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Steelers LaMarr Woodley Has Right Ingredients For Success

There's been some discussion about getting rookie LB LaMarr Woodley on the field more as the season progresses. Problem for Woodley is Clark Haggans is playing some of the best football in his life. But when he's been given the chance to play, be it in the preseason or in the Steelers' first five regular season games, Woodley has looked intriguing: he's not been caught out of position, he hasn't missed tackles, and he's made a few athletic plays in pass coverage. I think we all agree he's going to be a special player down the road for us.

Here's a list of some of the awards he won in college:

2005 Co-MVP of Rose Bowl (split with Vince Young)
2006 Lombardi Award winner
2006 Ted Hendricks Award winner
2006 Chuck Bednarik Award finalist
2006 Lott Trophy quarterfinalist
2006 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watchlist[3]
2006 Outland Trophy watchlist
2006 First Team All-American
2006 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
2006 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year

Bottom line is this guy isn't a 'project' or a diamond in the rough. He has some adjustments to make moving from linemen to LB, but I think the transition will be a smooth one for him. Why? Well, he's around veteran players and outstanding coaches for one. But he's also got a good attitude, as I discovered when stumbling upon a 'Rookie Diary' he wrote earlier this year.

Here's a few excerpts from the first entry that I enjoyed:

As for minicamp, I was one of the first ones here, along with some of the offensive linemen. I was excited to get going. When I got out there, I was trying to remember everything in my head. I realized how tough it was going to be to move to linebacker. I remembered some of the plays, but I was pretty much just out there running around and doing what I could. I was rusty in the linebacker drills. I even fell down at one point....What I know for sure is I'm staying in Pittsburgh right up through training camp. That's the only way I'm going to get better. There is no time for a rookie to take a vacation. I have the rest of my career to think about things like that. Right now, it's time to focus and work my way to the top of the position. I know I have the heart. Now I just have to work to catch up with everything else.
As for his initial impressions of Coach Tomlin and the rest of the staff?
I can see that I'm going to really like my coaches and being here. Coach Mike Tomlin is really laid back. You can really talk to him. Some other coaches, it can take time to get comfortable with them. But I think he's going to be really cool. I'm just trying to get to know all of them and let them know me.

Although unrelated to football, Woodley also shared this gem of a story about his struggles with toll booths and the lay of the land in the 'Burgh:

Last week, I drove to Pittsburgh in what turned out to an interesting trip. It was a long drive, like 4½ to five hours, but the more confounding aspect of the trip was the toll booths, which I did not anticipate. I got to the first one, and I didn't really have any money on me. I asked if they took a debit card and they said they could only take cash or check. The toll was $7.50, but I only had like four dollars in my pocket. The next thing you know, I'm trying to scrape together another $3.50 in change. Thankfully, I had a thing filled with some coins. Then I came to another toll booth, and the lady told me it was another $3. I couldn't believe it. I asked again if they would take debit. I thought maybe she would feel sorry for me and let me go through. She was like, "Nope, cash or a check." So I went back to the coins and counted out $3. This went on for three more toll booths.

After that, I headed for my financial advisor Marty Blaze's house when I got to Pittsburgh. I knew his street and address, so I entered it into the navigation system in my car. The problem was he actually lives in another little city near Pittsburgh. So I ended up on the right street but in the wrong city, outside of some stranger's house. So I call Marty and I was like "Man, I'm outside your house." And Marty was like, "I don't see you." He's telling me to pull around the corner and park. When we figured it out, I realized I was like 20 miles away from where I needed to be.

Woodley has other installments in the series, but the first one is ample evidence that this is a good, level-headed kid who's going to do what it takes to be successful in this league.

Natural ability + great coaching + desire to be great = probable Pro-Bowler within 3-4 years.