Last December, Kevin Fogg was busy training to be a sales associate at a Massage Envy in central Virginia. "My phone had to stay in the back," he said. After the end of his long day, he noticed a few missed calls and realized he had a piece of life-changing news in a voicemail: The Steelers had invited him to come to Pittsburgh for a tryout.
Unable to find a flight out of Virginia that late in the evening, he quickly packed a suitcase, drove nearly seven hours up to Pittsburgh and checked into a hotel well after midnight. "Everything happened really fast," he said. In fact, a few short hours after his arrival, he reported to the facility. He tried out that morning, and shortly thereafter became a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Fogg's road to Latrobe started at Liberty University, where he truly fell in love with the game, and involved a very brief stop with the Miami Dolphins after college in 2014. His enthusiasm for the Steelers was palpable when we spoke by phone earlier this week. "It is great to be at camp," he said. "It is really cool to be at an organization like the Steelers and with so many great guys who are competitors, great men on and off the field."
When I asked him which Steelers have made the biggest impact on him so far at training camp, Fogg had an interesting answer: Pittsburgh Steelers chaplain Chad Johnson. He also cited Will Allen, a fellow defensive back and man of faith who keeps Fogg focused on the bigger picture. "He has been a really strong mentor, and has been the one that's helped me out the most because of his spiritual mindset. I can pick his mind on how to stay true to who God wants you to be," Fogg said.
According to Fogg, the foundation of the Steelers cohesion and integrity is Coach Mike Tomlin. "He is a spiritually-minded and a well-charactered guy," said Fogg, who also noted Tomlin spends time with each player individually at the end of the day when he personally conducts room checks. "He is a true players' coach. He brings so much to the team by being that way," he added. Fogg also clarified that Tomlin does the room checks to make sure the players are respecting the curfew, not to confiscate junk food.
Though Fogg has forged strong relationships and enjoys the interpersonal aspects of camp, the highlight for him has been practice time on the field. Fogg is a man who loves his sport. He explained, "I love to compete. I feel like that's something that no matter what I love." There's a hint of altruism in Fogg's brand of competitiveness, though. "I don't just compete for myself. I compete to make my teammates better as well. It keeps me motivated and keeps me going," he revealed.
Also pragmatic, Fogg is aware that he needs to be ready to step up at a moment's notice. "Injuries are part of the game," he told me when I asked about the spate of injuries plaguing the Steelers defense. "Not everybody is going to make it out healthy, so it's important for the next guy to be ready to step up."
Fogg has certainly done what he can to be ready. In the offseason, he trained intensely, knowing that all players would have a common goal. "Every man wants to make the 53-man roster," he shared. With that goal in mind, Fogg spent most of his offseason at Liberty University training under Aaron Wilkins and at Athletic Republic in Lynchburg, VA under Brian Gibson. His focus during those critical months was to become a more balanced athlete by concentrating on all aspects of his game from footwork to mobility and stability.
His efforts have paid off so far. Throughout OTAs and minicamp, Fogg made a positive impression on teammates, coaches, and the media. In June, recently-retired cornerback Ike Taylor said of Fogg, "Very productive. Right now, he's been the most consistent. He's been consistent and he's getting better, and that doesn't do anything but help the secondary when you can have depth."
Around that same time, Mark Kaboly tweeted:
CB Kevin Fogg has done enough in the spring to show he has the talent to stick. Reminds me of Antwon Blake last year at this time.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) June 17, 2015
Mike Prisuta joined in the praise via Steelers.com, opining that Fogg had made the best play of OTAs. Fogg described it at the time: "Pick-six. It was just one of those things where I was in the right place at the right time and I ended up getting my hands on a ball and actually catching it." He described his teammates reaction as well, "I saw on the film my teammates were just going crazy nuts. That made me feel good right there. At first I didn't know who it was (throwing the pass). But then after practice one of the reporters came up to me and said, 'How does it feel to pick-six Ben?'"
At training camp, Fogg has continued to work hard, enjoying both the competition and, paradoxically, the close brotherhood between the defensive backs. "Everyone is very cool and down to earth and very, very great to get along with, even though we are all in competition," he explained.
The competitions Fogg enjoys the most are one-on-one drills against the receivers. "I love going against CJ Goodwin," he shared. "AB, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton. I like all of our receivers. You can learn something different from all of them, but also play them in a very competitive way. If you cover great receivers you have no choice but to get better."
He's also appreciated the coaching of Carnell Lake, mentorship of Ike Taylor, and advice from Terry Cousins, who is responsible for player development. He's appreciative of the time Mike Tomlin spends with his unit as well. "It's a blessing to have them spreading their knowledge."
Fogg can't wait for the first preseason game on Sunday against the Vikings. "I think it will be good to change it up and actually have a game instead of going up against the same guys every single day." He's done everything he can do to prepare. "I'm giving it my all. Each and every time I step on the field. Each play I know I put my best effort in," he shared. He also knows the business of football is fickle. "I do all I can and God will take care of the rest. I'm prepared."