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Dravon Askew-Henry hopes to live up to his hometown pedigree

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As a kid, the Aliquippa native watched future NFL players while dreaming of joining their ranks

NCAA Football: Youngstown State at West Virginia Photo: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Ditka. Tony Dorsett, Ty Law. Darrelle Revis.

These are some of the ten players who have reached the NFL from the city which lies only 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. Aliquippa, Pennsylvania has produced an unusual amount of NFL players for a city with a population less than 10,000 people. Professional football is not the only claim to fame to the borough-turned-city, as basketball start “Pistol” Pete Maravich and Moon River composer Henry Mancini both were raised in Aliquippa. But for Steelers’ rookie Dravon Askew-Henry, being from “The Quip” just gives him more determination to make the most of his opportunity to land a job in the National Football League.

In an interview with The Tribune Review’s Kevin Gorman, Askew-Henry talked about the NFL players from Aliquippa and what they meant to him growing up.

“I look up to them guys. They set the bar high for a kid like me from Aliquippa,” Askew-Henry told Gorman. “I was in the stands watching them play high school football. I always wanted to grow up and be like that. Ty Law going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is all the motivation that I need.”

Askew-Henry then expanded his thoughts on how his hometown has shaped him as a player.

“Coming from ‘Quip, I feel like we just breed differently there. I’ve definitely still got a chip on my shoulder and just about all the odds and where this road is going to take me, I don’t look forward. I live for today, for this moment.”

An undrafted rookie free agent signed by the Steelers in 2019, Askew-Henry played collegiately at West Virginia University in Morgantown. A full-time starter his first two season at defensive back, Askew-Henry suffered a severe knee injury before the beginning of his junior year. Initially under the belief he was on the fast track to the NFL as a high draft pick, Askew-Henry had to fight back to earn his playing time the remainder of his college career.

“I came in and started as a freshman and expected to be three-and-out but, unfortunately, it didn’t go that way,” Askew-Henry explained to Gorman.

After not getting his name called during the NFL draft, Askew-Henry took little time to sign with the Steelers. With safety being ruled a position of need by the Steelers in the 2019 offseason and the team failing to add to the position via free agency of the draft, Askew-Henry was one of two safeties signed by the Steelers in the days following the NFL draft.

It still would be considered somewhat of a long shot if Askew-Henery were to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster come September. But earning a spot on the Steelers practice squad is definitely a path Askew-Henry could find himself on for the 2019 season. If given the opportunity, Askew-Henry already has experienced what it is like to fight for playing time and is prepared for the challenge of being an Aliquippa product.

“I’m just trying to get the tradition going and I’m proud to be playing here in my hometown. … I’m hungry. I’m going to continue to do what I’ve got to do every day to prove that I belong here and I deserve to be here.”

Askew-Henry is scheduled to get his first chance to carve out a name for himself this Friday at 7:30 P.M. when the Steelers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 of the NFL preseason.