Scott Orndoff is a football player that feels deeply rooted in Western Pennsylvania. The former Seton-LaSalle High School product was considered one of the nation’s top 20 tight end prospects and a two-time All-State Class AA selection by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers. When it came time to select a college, he ultimately decided to become a hometown hero and commit to the University of Pittsburgh.
Orndoff, the son of a former USFL player, started five of nine games in his freshman season for the Panthers catching 6 passes for two touchdowns. The end of his freshman season and his entire sophomore season were disrupted due to a knee injury but he began to flourish during his junior and senior seasons.
The 6-foot-5 inch, 255 pound tight end caught 35 passes for 579 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. As a junior, he caught 13 passes for 244 yards and five touchdowns.
Five Pitt players heard their names announced this weekend after being selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Orndoff waited patiently throughout the weekend but he never heard his name called. But his disappointment was very short lived. The ‘kid from Western Pennsylvania’ once again decided to stay home and sign a contract as an unrestricted free agent with the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It was weird, because going through the whole day, I kind of knew the teams that had interest in me. My agent was talking. He was the one who probably at round five or six, he kind of told me, ‘The Steelers they’ve been calling all day.’ He told me straight up, they’re not going to draft a tight end. They know they’re going to go in other directions. But he said, I talked to them. They want you for a free agent,” said Orndoff.
“(My agent) told me the situation, the situation with their depth chart, and I talked to a couple of other teams. A couple of teams called me about free agency towards the latter end of the draft, but it just came down to what I thought was best. The crazy thing is I think what winded up being the best opportunity for me is what’s just right next door to where I was at.”
“For me and my family, it was a stressful day. Obviously, you want to hear your name called, but it was a stressful day for me and my family. But when I told them I was a Pittsburgh Steeler, everyone was really happy and we had a great time. So it hasn’t really sunk in for me yet. But I know this is only the beginning. I know there’s still so much more work I got to do to even make a team, so, but for right now, it’s the opportunity that I’ve been given by them, and to be able to continue my playing career, it’s just awesome.”
Orndoff was asked if he had the opportunity to speak with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and he stated, “Not today, but it’s funny I met with them back in March. I didn’t know if it was a real meeting or them just meeting all the Pitt guys.”
“I thought, when I was coming out of that meeting, there was Coach Tomlin, Coach (Todd) Haley, and (Steelers General Manager) Kevin Colbert. I felt really good coming out of the meeting and I thought it went well. They were easy to talk to. I’m glad they always kept me in mind the entire time and showed confidence in me. I now have the opportunity to play for them and I can’t wait to get over there and get started to work.”
Orndoff won’t be the only Panther signed by the Steelers. Running back James Conner was drafted in the 3rd round and safety Terrish Webb was signed as an unrestricted free agent. Orndoff, Conner and Webb are in a unique position. Although playing professionally, they will remain omnipresent at the South Side facilities. They remain local ambassadors for Pitt football.
Orndoff was asked his thoughts on the subject and he quickly interjected, “Yes, absolutely I have thought about that. As soon as James was drafted in the third round I said he’s going to be great for Pittsburgh, but at the same time, on and off the field, he’s going to be able to be a huge asset for Pitt.”
“I think for the City of Pittsburgh, it’d be awesome to say ‘I’ve been a Steelers fan my entire life, I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, I played high school football in Pittsburgh, I went to Pitt and played football and to be able to say I made the team with the Steelers and hopefully make an impact there.’ It would amazing and impactful.”
“I definitely think, especially for a kid from around here, it shows that you can play for Pitt and achieve all your dreams. You can still do it all right in your backyard. So I definitely think that barring something getting in my way, I definitely think that’s something that is realistic in the future.”
Orndoff knows that nothing will be handed to him in the NFL. His quote on his Instagram page says it all, “Now the real work begins and nothing is guaranteed, but I’m excited for the opportunity to play for the team I’ve cheered for since I was born! Proud to be a Steeler! #HereWeGo”
Pittsburgh Sports Now wishes Scott nothing but success in the future.
Harry G. Psaros can be found on twitter at @PittGuru