On Tuesday, new Steelers Quarterback and 2022 7th Round pick Chris Oladokun joined the Steelers Draft Fix for an exclusive interview. BTSC’s Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar sat down virtually with Chris and got his thoughts on the NFL Draft process and what he’s looking to accomplish as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
The full audio of this interview is available in the Megaphone link at the bottom of this page, or wherever you get your podcasts. Here we go!
What was it like being interviewed by the Steelers during the pre-draft process?
During the pre-draft process — it’s obviously a long process, you know, a three or four month process — and when I took my visit with the Steelers I just really felt the energy there and felt like everyone was real cool and down to earth; straight forward.
That’s always somewhere I wanted to be, starting back in little league. Knowing other guys who played for the Steelers, guys like Ray-Ray (McCloud) who I grew up with, and I’ve been pretty close with Diontae (Johnson) the past couple years doing workouts and things like that; getting to work out with Cam Sutton this offseason. They just can't say enough good things about the organization, so when I got the call this past Saturday I was speechless and I was just super grateful.
What was your initial reaction to being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers?
It was unreal. At first they're like, “Here were going to give the phone to coach Mike Tomlin,” and when he got on the phone he started asking how my day was going. It was in the seventh round and I was like, “We’re gonna see what happens here in the next thirty minutes with these last picks.” He said, “Well, I plan to make your day a whole lot better and make you a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
I didn't know what to say at first. I was in shock and obviously we got Kenny (Pickett) in the first round and I'm excited to get to work with him as well. I just didn't know what they were going to do in the seventh round so when I got the call I was just speechless and my family started to break down crying and I was trying to keep from crying.
It was a moment I will never forget.
You’ve spent time at three different schools. What were the main factors in your decision to transfer not once, but twice?
Starting out at South Florida, that was my hometown school, so playing quarterback for my hometown was always a dream of mine. I loved USF and my time there and the relationships I built. It just came time for me to move on. Something I didn't necessarily want to do, but was looking for better opportunities to be the guy and that was essentially why I left USF.
Then I get to Samford and had a good 2019 season and I was looking forward to the future at Samford, and after spring season it just came time for me to look for another opportunity. A lot of times you see people transfer multiple times, they may think a guy has character issues or something of that nature, but that was never the deal with me.
Being a captain at all three schools is something I always take a lot of pride in and feel like that’s something hard to do and almost unheard of. After leaving Samford, I got the call from South Dakota State a couple days after they lost the national championship game and their quarterback, Mark Gronowski, went down. They needed someone to take them back (to the championship) and they gave me that validation and confidence that someone believed in me as much as I believed in myself. Going to South Dakota State was probably the greatest decision in my college career.
While at Samford, you played behind and then replaced former Steelers QB Devlin “Duck” Hodges. Tell us a little bit about that.
Yeah I got to know him (Hodges) pretty well. It’s sort of crazy when I was at Samford he got cut from the team and he came back to Birmingham and we would throw and what not and hang out on the weekends. Then, one Friday, I call him and say, “Hey, what are we doing this weekend?” and he said, “I'm actually on my way to Pittsburgh. The Steelers called me. I'm going to Pittsburgh!” Two weeks later, he was starting and became the most loved Pittsburgh Steeler ever. So, I sort of talked to him the other day about it, and I called him a Pittsburgh legend. That’s my guy.
Did you find that your experiences at each school helped shape you as a player?
100 percent! I played in three different schools in three totally different places in the country. Florida is a lot different from Alabama, and Alabama is a lot different that South Dakota. It was a lot different, not just on the field, but culturally. A lot of different moving parts and building a lot of different relationships with people that I didn't grow up around the same area as.
It was neat learning people and learning the way they grew up, and also on the field playing for some of the coaches and offensive coordinators and learning different schemes and how they manage the clock differently, how we practice differently. It all made me a better player and shaped me. It’s gonna build on my NFL career because the unknowns are always there, and I'm just gonna embrace them and be ready for the challenge.
Do you compare your game to any former or current NFL quarterbacks?
Definitely. Cam Newton because he was one of my favorite players growing up. I even knew about him when he went to Florida and watching him at Auburn. Guys I compare my game to are guys like Tyler Huntley. You saw last year played pretty well when he got in and he could extend the play with his legs and throw the ball pretty well and push the ball down the field.
Obviously Patrick Mahomes I've watched a lot the last couple years. He can extend the play with his legs, but he's not looking to run first. He’s always looking to push the ball down he field and that’s sort of how I play my game when it comes to extending those plays, because that’s where those explosive plays come. Outside the pocket when you get guys breaking open down the field and then you end up hitting forty and fifty yard gains.
Who was the best college football player you played with or against? Does anybody stand out?
Playing at three schools, there's a lot of guys for me. Going back to freshman year, playing with Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers. Those two in the backfield were one of the most electric backfields in the country while they were together and obviously Marquez Valdez-Scantling was on that team as well. Then, playing this past year at South Dakota State, Pierre Strong — he ended up going to the Patriots — he's one of the best I’ve played with. He's very comparable to a guy like Marlon Mack, having played with both. I always said that the best player I played against this past year was the linebacker from Montana State. He was really really good. Troy Anderson. He flew around the field. What he ran his 40 (yard dash) in was pretty accurate to his game speed.
What is your mentality heading into the summer as you try to earn a spot on the Steelers’ roster?
I think its just get in there and soaking up as much information as possible. To just become a sponge and learn from guys like Mitchell (Trubisky) who’s done a really good job, and Mason Rudolph has done a really good job and started in some games for us. I'm just really excited to get in there and learn and meet my new teammates and build relationships with them and hopefully win a lot of games this upcoming year.
For myself, it’s really just competing. I've never shied away from competition. I'm going to push those guys like they're going to push me and hopefully we cam come together as one quarterback room and become one of the best in the league. That’s what I'm looking for.
What or Who are some of your inspirations as both a player and a person?
I think being a player and a person go hand in hand [in regards to] my inspirations. I have a little brother who plays cornerback at Bowling Green. Even though he's my little brother he's definitely one of my inspirations. He keeps me going. We work out together and we've been throwing together since we were in diapers and just always pushing each other, so he's definitely one of my inspirations to keep going.
Also, my family; my mom, my dad, my sister, my grandparents; they're all inspirations in my life because they've sacrificed a whole bunch in their lives, running me around to practice and games and supporting me in the highs and supporting me in the lows. And trust me, there's a lot of high and lows throughout my college career, so without them I wouldn't be in this position at all.
To hear even more from the Chris Oladokun interview, check out the full segment in the player below: