Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt has all the tools to be the next great Steelers defensive lineman. He has the size, speed and athleticism, but most importantly he has the drive. The internal motor you hear from experts and analysts. Plain and simple, Tuitt hustles his butt off.
Tuitt has talked openly about when the game at the NFL level began to "click" for him, and he points directly at the 2014 game at Heinz Field against the Kansas City Chiefs. Brett Keisel's triceps injury had Tuitt being named the starter opposite Cameron Heyward, and Tuitt started to finally get his legs underneath him.
It was in this game where Heyward didn't prove his technique, his strength or his intelligence. Rather it was this game he made a hustle play which turned the tide of the game. In the third quarter with the Steelers clinging to a 10-6 lead, the Chiefs were driving down the field and were nearing the red zone. Chiefs' running back Jamaal Charles caught a dump off pass from Alex Smith and was moving the ball down field and he made a critical mistake of side stepping a defender. What Charles didn't know is when he tried to maneuver around cornerback Antwon Blake, Tuitt would be chasing the play from behind and would deliver a hit which would cause a fumble and ultimately change the course of the game.
I'm not about to suggest NFL players don't hustle, but not every defensive lineman would have turned and run down the play as Tuitt did. Watch the play for yourself, and you see what Tuitt can bring to the table.
It also speaks volumes when I was searching Twitter Friday evening and came upon this tweet by Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
All you need to know about Stephon Tuitt is that he ran down Devin Gardner the other day ... 40 yards down the field.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) June 6, 2015
Go ahead and read that again. Tuitt ran down Gardner who ran a 4.65 40-yard dash time this offseason as a rookie, and it was OTAs.
To me, this speak volumes about Tuitt as a player. Not that he is fast, athletic and able to make plays, but how even in a voluntary practice he is hustling to the point of running down a much faster player, 40 yards down the field.
Tuitt has the all the tools. In terms of high school recruiting, Tuitt would be a five-star recruit. Tuitt will certainly make mistakes, the recently turned 22 year old is still young and learning his craft, but what he brings to the table is an immeasurable up-side. Steelers fans should be excited about watching Tuitt in his second season with a full year under his belt. Tuitt looks to be the next big thing for the Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive front, and he could be hustling his way to a Pro Bowl career.