Stephon Tuitt to wear No. 91 for the Steelers

Nick Laham

Steelers second round pick Stephon Tuitt will wear the number of one of the franchise's great players. We should remember Smith for his greatness on and off the field, but let Tuitt become his own player.

Clearly, the quick comparison is to Steelers great Aaron Smith. The nostalic, emotional side of fans will want to make it out to be the team sending Tuitt a message of what's expected of him - as if it's remotely fair to ask him to have an Aaron Smith-like career.

Smith was one of the best 5-technique defensive ends, and he earned that praise in an era in which 5-technique defensive ends did not play the position in college routinely. I heard Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells say "pro teams are only good as the players the colleges give them." What he meant by that is if colleges are passing the ball a lot (like they are today), they're going to give them a ton of wide receivers (like they did over the 2014 NFL Draft).

When Aaron Smith, a defensive tackle at Division II Northern Colorado (now in the FCS), was drafted by the Steelers, he had to learn the 5-technique position, which is a hybrid between the 3-technique (tackle) and 7-technique (end) with more emphasis on gap control. Taking on either the tackle or guard play-to-play and occupying, in Smith's case, two gaps is a big responsibility.

I agree with the veteran O-R writer Dale Lolley. If Tuitt is half the player or person as Smith, the Steelers made a phenomenal selection in the second round. But if the Steelers, or more importantly, their fans, expect Tuitt to replicate either of those things, it's simply unfair.

Let's let Aaron Smith be remembered for who he was and what he brought (and continues to bring) to this organization, and let his play on the field and conduct off it be his legacy, not his number.

Let's let Tuitt become his own player, rooting for and hoping he has his own taste of greatness. Certainly, though, that No. 91 should remind him players with less achieved quite a bit, and his payback is full buy-in to what this team is trying to get him to accomplish.

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