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Don't count out Chris Elkins, warns his high school coach

Youngstown State center Chris Elkins has the fight in him to remain with this team, Beaver Falls head coach Ryan Matsook told the Post Gazette Tuesday.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Beaver Falls High School football coach Ryan Matsook delivered a warning via Ray Fittipaldo of the Post Gazette Tuesday.

Don't bet against Steelers undrafted free agent center Chris Elkins being a part of this team.

It's certainly not rare for a player's high school coach to speak volumes about a kid, especially in Elkins' case. He was the third of three linemen recruited at a high level from that Beaver Falls team. Matsook said he remembers having to actively pitch his player to Pitt.

I remember having a full-blown disagreement with coach [Greg] Gattuso at Pitt. I kept telling them they had to take him. He said we can’t take everybody."

It's not as if Elkins was ignored. Youngstown State offered him a scholarship, one he accepted immediately.

"Chris ended up in the best place possible. The coaches at Youngstown State did a great job with him."

A FCS All America selection in 2013, the Steelers visited his Pro Day and Elkins accepted their UDFA contract offer immediately, like he did with YSU.

Elkins comes in at a good time. Center Maurkice Pouncey is scheduled to hit free agency after this season, and with rival center Alex Mack scoring a five-year, $42 million deal this offseason, and Carolina signing Ryan Kalil to a six-year, $49 million deal in 2011, Pouncey should be expected to ask for a contract in that ballpark.

The Steelers' 2015 cap situation does not project to be capable of taking on that kind of deal, and may be forced to either apply the transition or franchise tag to him or let him walk. The Steelers signed 31-year-old Cody Wallace to a three-year deal this offseason.

The Steelers will have a highly competitive training camp battle for their utility linemen, and Elkins' odds of making this team can't be considered great, even if his high school coach vouches for his determination. The practice squad is a more realistic goal this year for Elkins.

His future involvement, though, shouldn't be ignored.