There is a chance you don't know the back story of Roosevelt Nix, and that would be okay. After all, it isn't every day the fullback on the team's rise from substitute teacher after college to getting a futures contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers is front page news. Nonetheless, that is exactly what happened with Nix after he left college as an undersized defensive lineman at Kent State.
He graduates, doesn't get drafted and is forced to face the reality of not having a job. He took the police academy exam and substitute taught to make ends meet, but never stopped working to get back to the game of football.
"More than anything it taught me that there is life after football," Nix told Lance Lysowski of DKPittsburghSports.com. "I got cut so I had to spend the whole year at the house. It was a real humbling situation to have it all snatched from me. You have to work to never have that feeling again."
The work paid off as the Steelers gave him an invitation to their offseason workouts, eventually earning a spot on the 2015 roster, as a fullback. His work ethic stood out as he had a "whatever it takes" attitude every time he stepped on the football field.
"Rosie is a self-made man, and we're very fortunate to have him," running backs coach James Saxon said. "That's the kind of guy you like to have around."
The Steelers enjoy having Nix around, and plan on expanding his role this season. With the retirement of Heath Miller combined with the injury to Ladarius Green, the team has been deploying Nix a more of an H-back than just a natural fullback. Something which has Nix excited for the opportunity.
"Anytime you get to touch the field you get excited," Nix said. "They're just putting me in different spots, seeing if we can expand my role a little bit. Coach T has been talking about that, so that's what we've been trying to do."
For being a former defensive lineman, Nix has surprisingly good receiving skills out of the backfield, and as a tight end. Those hands were on full display in training camp when he took a swing pass over 70-yards for a touchdown. With Nix being a possible blocker and receiver, he oozes of versatility, something Mike Tomlin craves from all of his players on the roster.
Nix's story is certainly impressive. Not everyone can change positions and succeed. Most high school and college players can't succeed with such a task, let alone to do it at the professional level. Nonetheless, Nix is doing just that, and doing it well. His attitude is right, his energy is infectious and he hopes to parlay a great 2016 season into a new contract with the Steelers, but first, it is all about the details.
"I just do what I'm told to do," Nix added. "I work on the little things, so it becomes a habit. I just do everything I can to put myself in the right position to be successful."
Nix has been nothing short of successful in his brief time with Pittsburgh, and hopefully that trend continues in 2016.