Steelers Notebook: Super Sonic draft pick hails from Texas, too

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Forty years after the Steelers introduced another big defensive lineman as their top draft pick, Ziggy Hood said hello to Pittsburgh yesterday.

Like Joe Greene in 1969, their first-round draft choice is from Texas -- Amarillo, to be precise.

He will wear No. 96, the eighth player, according to the Steelers, to hold that number. Most recognizable of their previous 96s were Mike Vrabel, Brentson Buckner and Kendrick Clancy.

Hood graduated in 3Â 1/2 years from Missouri and came across at his introductory Pittsburgh news conference yesterday as polished as any of their first-round draft choices since Greene.

He, in fact, said he took more pride in making all-Big 12 academics than all-conference football.

"It is something that my family has value in because my mother and brother did that when they went to college," Hood said.

There are many things about Hood that Steelers fans will discover as his career progresses, on and off the field. One, he's the fourth defensive lineman drafted in the first round by the Steelers from Texas since Mean Joe. The others are Gabe Rivera in 1983 and Casey Hampton in 2001.

Another is that he worked at an Amarillo Sonic drive-in restaurant while in high school. And, yes, he wore the roller skates to serve the food to the customers in the parked cars.

"I could pretty much do everything, from flipping patties to car hopping, riding around on roller skates," Hood said.

Missouri coaches, in fact, paid recruiting visits to Hood at Sonic, and after the Steelers drafted him in the first round Saturday, coach Mike Tomlin called him and tried to order a hamburger.

Hood, like Tomlin, showed a sense of humor as well yesterday. Asked who was the most famous athlete to come out of Amarillo, he included himself.

Politically correct, too. Asked to describe his thoughts on seeing Pittsburgh for the first time, Hood said, "Beautiful, very beautiful."

And this former Denver Broncos fan said he rooted for the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

"I saw little James Harrison scoop up the ball before halftime and took it right down to the end zone."

Little James Harrison might not enjoy that description.

"I wouldn't call him little," Hood corrected himself without prompting. "But he took it to the end zone and scored."

Free-agent QBs sign deals

Two rookie quarterbacks, undrafted over the weekend, have agreed to free-agent contracts with the Steelers, including one from the WPIAL.

Kevin McCabe, who played at Pine-Richland High School and California University of Pa., and Mike Reilly of Central Washington will join the three veterans on the Steelers' roster.

Two other undrafted rookies also are known to have come to contract agreements -- Portland State linebacker Andy Schantz, according to the Oregonian, and Pitt long snapper Mark Estermyer.

According to, other rookie free agents who came to agreements with the Steelers are Tennessee offensive tackle Ramon Foster, Hillsdale inside linebacker Tom Korte, Clemson wide receiver Tyler Grisham, and New Mexico State safety Derrick Richardson.

The Steelers expect to sign up to a dozen rookie free agents this week to fill out their roster but the team has not yet revealed any of them.

Minicamp Friday

All the rookies and veterans will report for a three-day minicamp at the Steelers' training facility Friday through Sunday. No rookies will be restricted from training with the team this spring because of college semesters or trimesters that extend into June.


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