Long before Heath Miller became the unanimous choice among Pittsburgh Steelers fans as their favorite tight end in team history, it could have been argued that his predecessor Mark Bruener wore that crown with some members of Steeler Nation. Primarily more of a blocking tight end than a receiver, while the former first-round draft pick earned his fair share of admirers in the Steel City, it would appear that he also left a notable impression on those who watched him at college.
Bruener will be recognized for his efforts as a tight end for the University of Washington when he is inducted into the Pacific Northwest Hall of Fame on July 25. Set to be part of a class that includes former Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander and head coach Chuck Knox among others, Bruener will be enshrined during a ceremony held at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
In four season with the Huskies, Bruner would record 90 receptions for 1,012 yard, with one of his college highlights coming during his freshman year when he scored a touchdown in the Rose Bowl to help secure a share of the National Championship. He would leave Washington as the all-time leader in career receptions at tight end and was voted All-Pac 10 twice and was also honored as an All-American.
Selected by the Steelers with the 27th overall pick of the 1995 NFL Draft, Bruener would play nine seasons in Pittsburgh before finishing his career with the Houston Texans. In 14 years in the NFL, he recorded 152 receptions for 1,333 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Soon after his playing career was over, Bruener made a move into scouting thanks to in part to an internship with the Steelers. Still with them to this day, Bruener is predominantly responsible for scouting the northwest region of the country.