By Jeremy Hritz
Roland Rivers. Quarterback. Slippery Rock University.
Add him to the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback room, at least for the time being, as Rivers accepted an invite to rookie minicamp with the Steelers to showcase his talents to see if there is, in fact, a place for him, among the signal callers on the roster. While simple math says the QB room is overcrowded and that Rivers visit with the team will end at the conclusion of rookie minicamp, he possesses several intriguing qualities that deserve an extended look from Steelers brass. If he can impress and get a ticket to training camp, then the game is wide open for Rivers to assert himself and compete with Josh Dobbs and Dwayne Haskins as QB3.
Rivers started his collegiate football career at Division II Valdosta State before transferring to Slippery Rock, where injuries cleared a pathway for him to start and to begin an assault on the stat sheet and the PSAC Conference. Over two seasons at SRU, he threw for over 7100 yards and 81 touchdowns, in addition to rushing for almost 1300 yards and 16 touchdowns, leading the Rock deep into DII playoffs. No matter what level of competition, that type of production is undeniable, and Rivers has something worth exploring.
At 6’3, 230, Rivers has the size and the NFL arm to make the desired throws in an NFL offense; however, whether or not he has the zip necessary to squeeze the ball into compact compartments at the NFL level has yet to seen. Couple that with concerns about his ability to read/process defenses quickly, and his battles he to earn a spot with the Steelers are clear.
Something worth noting is that at Penn State’s Pro Day, Rivers was the one firing passes to Pat Freiermuth, the Steelers second round selection, so it makes you wonder if the team observed something they believed to be valuable enough to give him a shot.
Regardless of how this plays out for Rivers, there is something here to keep an eye on, and as a small school guy, he is an underdog to root for in his pursuit of a spot among the quarterbacks with the Steelers. Rivers first test will begin May 14 in rookie minicamp, and I’ll be rooting for him to move onto the next stage of the competition.
Everybody’s path to the league is different, and while there is a traditional path, it doesn’t mean it has to be the one always followed. Rivers is competitive and on a mission to prove he belongs.
Will he make it? We won’t know for some time yet. But his college game gives a lot to be excited about.
And a quick fun side note… in HS in the state playoffs in Georgia, Rivers battled against a current proven NFL quarterback, but can up short, 28-14. That QB? Deshaun Watson.