‘Crazy’ draft day over, new Steelers DB Terrell Edmunds ready to work
Few life events beat the thrill of getting chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft.
But you would think the Steelers’ Terrell Edmunds would have remembered to buckle his pants.
The call of a lifetime arrived from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Friday night just as Edmunds, a safety from Virginia Tech, was drying his hands in a restroom at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
“I was washing my hands,” he said. “Had my phone sitting on the sink. Coach called me. I just grabbed a paper towel real quick, dried off my hands, threw it away, my pants unbuckled still, just running out there talking to my parents.”
Embarrassed? Maybe a little but he said, “I ended up getting myself together.”
Which is just what Steelers will expect him to do when more adversity strikes during the season.
Then, another shock: There was Ryan Shazier, taking his first public steps after suffering a spinal cord injury last season, standing on stage calling his name and holding his Steelers jersey.
“That made it more crazy for me,” Edmunds said. “A so unreal moment.”
How fast did it take him to get to the stage from the restroom? “If you would have clocked me, probably a 4.2,” he said.
That would be much faster than the 4.47 time he clocked at the NFL Combine two months ago. Fast enough for the Steelers to make him the first safety they took in the first round since Troy Polamalu in 2003.
Tomlin and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Edmunds can play many positions, even nickel linebacker at 6-foot-1, 227 pounds.
His status as a No. 1 draft choice is nice.
“When I was at the airport (in Pittsburgh on Friday), everyone came up and shook my hand,” he said. “All the smiles and hugs and love I had was amazing.”
An even greater moment was getting drafted in the first round along with his younger brother, Tremaine (No. 16 to the Buffalo Bills). They became the first brothers drafted in the first round in the same season in NFL history, but Terrell is expecting to be just another piece of meat at training camp.
He learned that from his dad, Ferrell Edmunds, who played tight end for seven years with the Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. More important than that, he was his coach at Dan River High School in Danville, Va.
“Now, it’s time to start everything over because now we have to make a statement for ourselves,” Edmunds said after Steelers president and owner Art Rooney II introduced him to reporters. “My dad always told me that nothing comes easy. We always had to work for whatever we had. We are coming in with the mindset that nothing is given regardless of what round you go.
“Once you get here, you are starting from scratch pretty much. My dad always told us that just because he went to the NFL doesn’t mean it was the plan for us.”
The Steelers’ decision to draft Edmunds was based partially on a dinner meeting Tomlin and Colbert had with the family the night before Virginia Tech’s pro day. Ferrell, Tremaine and mom Felecia were there.
“To watch that family interact,” Colbert said, “it was truly encouraging to see two great players coming from such a great family. It was a neat moment.”
Usually such dinners are set up by a team for its top people to ask questions of draft prospects. Felecia turned it into her own personal inquisition.
“What kind of questions did she not ask?” Edmunds said. “She probably asked every question in the book.
“From, if she could come here anytime she wanted just to make sure everything was OK and then just being that mom asking the coach, ‘Are you going to watch out for her baby?’
“She’s not trying to baby me. She is just trying to make sure everything goes OK. I love her. I’m thankful for her support.”
The Steelers’ most important question was how Edmunds’ shoulder surgery turned out. He missed the final three games at Virginia Tech last season but played the first 10 after suffering the injury in training camp. With one healthy shoulder, Edmunds recorded 59 tackles and two interceptions and was named third-team All-ACC.
Asked about his shoulder Friday, Edmunds said he was medically cleared a month ago and doesn’t expect to be limited when the Steelers gather for OTAs this spring.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.