Tuzar Skipper had a whirlwind couple of weeks before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After going undrafted and unsigned during the initial undrafted rookie free agent period, Skipper the 6-3, 248 pound former defensive end who played his college ball for the Toledo Rockets, now has a new home. He had spent the previous weekend with the Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp, but walked away from the tryout unsigned. Skipper will transition to outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is yet another player the Steelers signed from participants at this year’s three-day rookie minicamp.
Skipper made enough of an impression on Steelers coaches to latch onto the 90-man roster. He looks to build upon that impression during OTAs, training camp and preseason.
Skipper attended Monroe College for two years and tallied 46 tackles, 20.5 for loss, and 6.5 sacks over 13 games. He was awarded all-Northeast Football Conference second-team honors in each of the two seasons.
Building on that success led him to Toledo and Division I football. In his first season he racked up 22 total tackles and one for loss, His next season was cut short because of a torn ACL after just two games. Coming back for his final season at Toledo, Skipper amassed 60 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown in 13 games.
Pro day numbers. (He was not invited to the combine.)
9 1/2-inch hands
30 bench press reps
40-yard dash in 4.89-seconds
short shuttle in 4.42-seconds.
Skipper had one solo tackle and 7 assists in the above game against Miami. This is an instance where stats are misleading. He struggled against the Hurricanes in both rushing the passer and stopping the run. His reaction time to the ball carrier was lacking to go along with zero pass rush. When he brought down the ball carrier, it was for gains from three to five yards.
Whatever it was the Steelers coaches saw in Skipper he will have to build on that during OTAs, camp and the preseason if he has any hopes of making the 53-man roster or the practice squad. Will the Steelers carry three or four outside linebackers on their roster to open the season? Pittsburgh carried only three to open the season but added Ola Adeniyi later in the season. Veteran Anthony Chickillo has the inside track for the first hat off the bench at outside linebacker but if the team keeps four who will it be? Adeniyi, Skipper, Robert Spillane, or JT Jones? The answer to that question will not be answered until the team makes their final cuts just before the start of the season.