It's a comments section tradition of the last three years, but the first time it's advanced all the way to tangible form.
The Isaac Redman Award is unofficially given each year to the unheralded Steelers player who came from the furthest reaches of obscurity to reach general heightened fame and appeal among Steelers fans.
The general criteria for nomination are as follows:
-Player must not be a draft pick higher than the sixth round
-Player can only have participated in two other training camps prior to this one
-Player demonstrated frequent references in comments regarding the likelihood of significant playing time in the coming year
-Weight of general fan sentiment is the player is a "diamond in the rough"
-Player does not have to make the team in the year of his nomination to qualify (this isn't meant to be included in 53-man roster discussion)
While we have not given this award formally in the past, looking back over the years (this will be part of our research project titled "Steelers Preseason Hall of Fame"), other winners would include the namessake, Isaac Redman, for his camp performance as an undrafted free agent in 2009, Gary Russell in 2007, Adrian Robinson in 2012 and, most recently, Alan Baxter last season - who defeated a hard-charging Brian Arnfelt for the award.
The crop of 2014 Isaac Redman Award nominees are quite outstanding, showing a much more narrow gap of the expectations for certain players as well as their actual contributory value to the team this season. It isn't a surprise defense dominates this list, considering the budding depth the team has on that side of the ball, and a general sense of established depth and veteran presence on offense.
DE Josh Mauro - Rookie undrafted free agent - Sound technique, noticeable improvement from college tape, Mauro's a riser and may be a very difficult cut.
S Jordan Dangerfield - Sealed his likely nomination with a crushing hit on Giants FB Jon Conner in Preseason Week 1.
WR Justin Brown - Seemingly unstoppable rise through the Steelers' depth chart, he's had little challenge from veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Martavis Bryant and seems well on-pace not just to make the team, but to have a helmet in Week 1.
OLB Howard Jones - The Division II product, raw as the day is long, is battling for a roster spot. If he can show his value on special teams, he may just be there in Week 1. Following the deep footprints set by Robinson and Baxter as Preseason Edge Rush Darlings.
DE Nick Williams - An outstanding game against the Giants and solid reports about him coming from camp bump the former seventh round pick's level of prestige up quite high. He has a bright future.
Honorable mentions: OLB Jordan Zumwalt, DL Dan McCullers, LB Terence Garvin
Weigh in on the nominees in your comments below. Reasonable arguments are accepted. Sensationalized hyperbole is definitely accepted.