Steelman shines in Shrine Game, NFL hype ramps up


Trent Williams runs past West team safety Duke Williams for a touchdown Saturday in the second half of the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was the East team’s only touchdown in a 28-13 loss. (AP photo by Chris O’Meara)

Receiver. Running back. Quarterback. Kick returner. Long snapper?

Trent Steelman was a dual threat for four seasons as Army’s starting quarterback, rushing his way to the most touchdowns in school history (45) while throwing for more than 2,700 career yards. He got a chance to show his rushing skills during the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla., scoring on a 7-yard dash in the third quarter to give the East team its only touchdown.

Then, he lined up at long snapper for the extra point. There’s versatility, and then there’s football’s version of a Swiss Army knife.

Army football guru Sal Interdonato covers how Steelman became the East team’s snapper, and some of the kind words said about the Black Knights quarterback by the NFL Network’s announce team.

To summarize: While Steelman caught no passes during Saturday’s game, he was impressive at wide receiver during practices, which are watched closely by NFL scouts. If he can show the ability to run routes and catch passes, and add those skills to his running and throwing resume, he could find his way onto an NFL roster.

There are, of course, service-commitment issues, and the fact that a few good days at wideout before a college all-star game won’t be enough to persuade NFL teams to reshuffle their draft boards. He’s also listed at 6 feet tall — short by NFL receiver and quarterback standards, and that’s assuming he’s the one college athlete in history who isn’t listed at least a shade taller on his team’s roster than he is in real life.

Still, Steelman’s variety of skills could make him an attractive free-agent pickup — he can run a wildcat offense from under center, serve as a reserve kick returner, be a ball-seeking missile on special teams, or become a trick-play threat as a fifth or sixth wide receiver. And it wouldn’t cost a team a roster spot to stash Steelman on a reserve/military list while his Army career is ongoing.

After all, what team doesn’t need a backup long snapper?


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