Trent Steelman: The Journey Part I
Trent Steelman's journey from high school in Bowling Green (KY.) to Army West Point to present day legitimate interest from several NFL teams is one of those improbable football success stories that defies logic in many ways.
GoBlackKnights.com will take a look at where he started from to where he is today in our 2-Part Series, Trent Steelman: The Journey
The 2008 Rivals recruiting database lists Steelman as an unranked and unrated Pro Style Quarterback, with a listed height of 6' 1" and a listed weight of 168 pounds. It shows that he committed to Army on July 30, 2009.
However, West Point was not Steelman's first choice of schools, and Army West Point was not even mentioned when a local reporter included him in a 2008 article discussing colleges who were showing interest in some of the Bowling Green High School players. The article noted that "Steelman visited Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Miami, Ohio and Louisville," and went on to state that "Several I-AA programs have expressed serious interest, including Western Kentucky, Appalachian State, Wofford, Gardner-Webb and Murray State." The Rivals database shows him with no offers other than Army.
That same year, Stan Brock, head coach at Army was told to convert his offense to the triple option style that had proven successful for Jim Young a decade before. Someone on Brock's staff apparently took notice of Steelman and he received an offer to demonstrate what he could do in a season at USMAPS that following fall. Brock's 2008 version of the triple option did not earn rave reviews from the Army fans, and at the end of the season, West Point replaced him with Rich Ellerson, who had run the triple option offense successfully at Cal Poly.
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Ellerson was looking around for a quarterback who could run the option and selected Steelman to start the 2009 season over the previous year's QB Chip Bowden as well as Max Jenkins who had been brought in as a Direct Report the previous year as Brock's leading candidate for the job. Although Steelman was not the first plebe to play quarterback at Army, he was the first plebe to start his freshman season at quarterback. Over the next four years, Steelman earned a lock on the starting job, and set the record for career rushing touchdowns, finished third all time in career rushing yards and second in 100 yard rushing games.
Army's offense is not built for a pro style quarterback, but that probably worked to Steelman's advantage, as he lacked the size and passing arm to succeed in that position at the next level. When he received an offer to play in the East-West Shrine Game after graduation, Steelman realized that "If I wanted to continue to pursue football, I knew it wasn't going to be as a six-foot option quarterback playing in the NFL, so I looked to the next best thing that fit my skill set and that was to transition to a little slot receiver."
He worked with the Army wide receivers coach that spring to sharpen his skills and performed well in the Shrine game, and even had a chance to take a snap in the wildcat formation which catered to his running ability.
Over the next couple of years, Steelman completed his active duty obligation, and then returned to Bowling Green to focus his attention on earning another shot at the NFL. His next big chance came when he was chosen to represent the USA in the in the 2015 International Federation of American Football world tournament in Canton, Ohio. Playing as a wide receiver for Team USA, Steelman finished with a team-best 18 catches for 258 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran four times for 56 yards and a score. He added a fourth touchdown recovering a fumble in the end zone and was named the MVP of the tournament. That performance got the attention of NFL scouts who started knocking at his door.
Next up from GoBlackKnights.com is Part II of our series on Steelman's Journey, as we bring you inside our exclusive interview with the former Army QB, so stay tuned.
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