The Pittsburgh Steelers we know today got their start in 1933 as the Pirates. Art Rooney founded the team that year, and the franchise joined the National Football League. The squad would play for seven years under the Pirates moniker, despite being somewhat unsuccessful during these early years (they never fielded a winning season).
In 1940, Rooney changed the team name to the Steelers to reflect the heritage of the city of Pittsburgh. The team finally enjoyed their first winning season in 1942. As with many football teams during this time, many Steelers players went off to fight in WWII.
Success in Steeltown
The Steelers currently hold the record for most Super Bowl wins – six. They experienced most of their victories in the mid- to late-’70s (1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979) under the leadership of legendary head coach Chuck Noll and future Hall-of-Famer Terry Bradshaw. Their other two championships came in 2005 under Bill Cowher’s coaching and again in 2008 under head coach Mike Tomlin. Both were captained by current quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Big Ben and Co.
Big Ben, as he’s affectionately known, played college football at Miami University. He was a prolific passer during his college days, going over 3,000 yards his first two years and over 4,000 his third. He was drafted in 2004 as the 11th overall player in the NFL Draft, and while he wasn’t the first quarterback selected (2004 was Eli Manning’s and Philip Rivers’ draft class as well), he has certainly performed just as well in the NFL as he did in college.
Antonio Brown is another standout Steeler. He topped the 1,000 receiving yard mark four times in his career. He played college football at Central Michigan, where he had similar stats. Although he wasn’t drafted until the sixth round in 2010, he’s flourished as a Steeler and has earned a starting spot.
Running back DeAngelo Williams is another Steeler to note. He attended and played football at the University of Memphis, where he pounded the rock for nearly 2,000 yards (not once but twice). He was drafted in 2006 by the Carolina Panthers, but he made his way to Pittsburgh in time for the 2015 season.
Le’Veon Bell also went to college in Michigan, but he attended Michigan State for his academic career. He had a standout year in 2012. Bell ran for over 1,700 yards and was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Steelers.
Finding the right mix of players and backgrounds is a critical part of building a successful franchise. Let’s take a look at where the current Steelers squad suited up during their college playing days.
Ohio River Valley Represent
The standout state in the graphic above is certainly Ohio, where eight current Steelers went to college. Pennsylvania is up there as well; it produced five Steelers players. Other notable states include Florida with six players; Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky with four players each; and California, Maryland, and North Carolina with three Steelers each.
An Even Distribution
The top producing schools for the Pittsburgh Steelers tend to be distributed pretty evenly across a handful of universities. The following have contributed two players each: Central Michigan, Florida State, Florida, Kent State, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, and Tennessee.
The Sounds of the SEC
The SEC has a strong showing on the Steelers roster; it’s produced 12 players. The ACC is a close second with 11. The Big Ten conference sent eight players to Pittsburgh, while the Mid-American Conference sent seven. Breaking down between offense and defense, of the SEC’s contributions to the Steelers lineup, eight players fall to the offensive side of the ball, while four fall to the defensive side. The ACC players tend to favor the defensive side, while the Big Ten contributed more offensive players. Overall, the offense seems to have a greater diversity of conference roots.
With many different colleges represented, the Steelers have been able to find repeated success using their diverse base of players.
Whether you’re a Pittsburgh fan or you want just to follow your favorite college player’s career through the NFL, Fanatics.com has all the gear your heart desires.