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Isaac Redman Award update: Last call for candidates

Can a great backstory propel a new entrant into the thick of the race?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve reached the homestretch of the 2023 Isaac Redman Award season. As is tradition we will have a BTSC poll to crown our king of the training camp formerly unknowns. It’s almost too late to get on board the hype train for these Steeler wannabees, but let’s dig deep and do our job as responsible Black and Gold internet opinionators with full effort!

Redman Award recap

We welcome all newcomers to this endeavor and, so you don’t feel like the only ones in the room that aren’t in the loop, here are the criteria for the award as laid out in a 2014 BTSC article.

  • Player must not be a draft pick higher than the sixth round
  • Player can only have participated in two other training camps prior to this one
  • Player demonstrated frequent references in comments regarding the likelihood of significant playing time in the coming year
  • Weight of general fan sentiment is the player is a “diamond in the rough”
  • Player does not have to make the team in the year of his nomination to qualify (this isn’t meant to be included in the 53-man roster discussion)

Those rules sound as if they are etched in stone. After reading them you may say to yourself, or out loud, “Pish-posh. Criteria schmiteria!” Well, as we the community that is BTSC created this award, I suppose we are also entrusted to amend the rules provided there is a parliamentary quorum present on the internet on the day of such amending.

How are the candidates doing?

Why did I just put that overly pompous baloney in this article? It’s been a very troubling year for those across all departments at the global headquarters of the I.R.A. Finding qualifying Redman Award candidates and sustaining their campaigns has not been easy. As laid out by Toronto Steeler Fan in a Fanpost article, we lost the first three candidates just about the time most of us had figured out how to spell their names. In what seemed like 10 minutes 7th-round pick CB Cory Trice’s knee and UDFA RB Alfonzo Graham’s shoulder gave out under the weight of the crushing Redman Award pressure. Fellow UDFA FB Monte Pottebaum retired shortly after, getting out before he too was consumed by the stress.

Toronto gave us four names to watch. 7th-round pick OL Spencer Anderson and UDFAs WR/KR Jordan Byrd, QB Tanner Morgan, and OLB David Perales. Anderson has emerged as arguably the front-runner for the award while the other three may have peaked early as their buzz has fizzled out.

I threw in two new names in the previous Redman article: TE Rodney Williams and S Trenton Thompson. Williams has continued to be very non-descript through his preseason performances after getting a bit of buzz from training camp sideline reporters. Thompson, on the other hand, has gotten some run from the BTSC commenters with one of those tagging him as Trenton “T2” Thompson. A nickname can do a great deal for a hype-based award and Thompson would seem to be Anderson’s main competition.

Is anybody else making a push?

Now that we have three preseason games behind us is there anyone we should’ve been paying closer attention to? I’ll toss in a name that meets about as many criteria as the others. OLB Quincy Roche was a 6th-round pick of the Steelers in 2021. He didn’t win the Redman that year, nor did he make the final 53, and was signed by the New York Giants the day after being cut. At the time many BTSC commenters were extremely upset with GM Kevin Colbert for not realizing Roche would get snapped up by another team and probably lead the NFL in sacks. Roche spent two seasons with the Giants and was active for only three games last year logging just six defensive snaps to go with 28 on special teams. The Steelers welcomed him back in January as OLB depth was a major shortcoming on the roster. Roche has shown up this preseason with a pair of sacks and plenty of time harassing opposing QBs. Had the Steelers not signed OLB Markus Golden and drafted OLB Nick Herbig, I’d be willing to wager that the name Quincy Roche might be quite active in the Redman discussion.

If you don’t like the reunion story of Roche, how about a 6’6 QB who switched to play OL? Dylan Cook was a QB in high school who broke his collarbone his senior year and would wind up at NAIA Montana State Northern before giving up on football due to a lack of playing time on a terrible team. He was then coaxed to walk on at FCS Montana as an OL. After a redshirt year, he would play two seasons at LT gaining All-Big Sky honors his senior year. He signed as an UDFA with Tampa Bay and spent last season on their practice squad. Much like Anderson, Cook has been a mainstay of the OL in the second halves of preseason games. Also similar to Anderson, Cook has displayed versatility at several positions including LT, RT, and LG. Cook’s performance and versatility may have been a factor in Omar Khan trading LG Kevin Dotson to the Rams which certainly helps unclog the pathway to a roster spot.

Who should make the final ballot? At this point, I think we have Spencer Anderson, Trenton Thompson, Quincy Roche, and Dylan Cook. Do Roche and Cook belong? Have I dismissed someone in error? Is there someone else we should consider? As this is a BTSC community award, I am simply an aggregator of the comments. Speak now as it is Last Call!