A year ago, Scott Orndoff was preparing for his senior season with the Panthers and, for the first time, was listed as the starting tight end on the depth chart. Fast forward a year and the Waynesburg native will begin at the bottom of chart for the team that he has trained beside since arriving at Pitt in 2013.
Orndoff signed a free agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers after going undrafted in this year’s NFL Draft. Unlike most undrafted players, the transition is a bit smoother for someone who spent the last four years practicing in the same building as his NFL team.
“I’m in the same environment, I’m not in an unusual place,” Orndoff said. “If I need something I know where to go get it. It definitely helps.”
Still, Orndoff faces what all players must endure when they move on to the NFL: the learning curve.
“Everyone says it’s a lot (learning curve) and it is,” Orndoff said. “Definitely the hardest thing is learning the playbook and getting everything down. But I think it is going pretty well, I’m learning more and more everyday getting more comfortable with the offense.”
Though undrafted players rarely make the 53 man roster, the current conundrum the Steelers face at tight end may open the door for Orndoff. Former South Allegheny standout Jesse James remains the only viable receiving option at the position after the release of Ladarius Green. Though he caught only 23 balls in his first 3 seasons at Pitt, Orndoff exploded in Matt Canada’s offense his senior year, catching 35 passes, second on the team, for 579 yards and 5 touchdowns. Adding his experience on special teams, there is a real chance the former Panther could steal a roster spot with the Steelers out of Training Camp.
It is definitely a motivating factor for Orndoff, but he still needs to go out and perform at a high level.
“I just gotta keep my head down and keep working,” Orndoff said. “But with there being one more spot open it gives me a little extra motivation to really try to come in and secure that spot.”
Orndoff was one of the many volunteers at the 7th annual Joe Moore O Line Camp, which honors the former Pitt offensive Line coach who sent 52 players to the NFL in his career. Steelers coaches Mike Munchak, James Daniel and Jerry Olsavsky were on hand to give hands on instruction to the players while Orndoff and fellow rookie Ethan Cooper were among those who assisted in the drills.
The former Pitt star was not only thrilled to be apart of such a prestigious camp, but to rub elbows with some of the best offensive lineman in college and NFL history.
“I am honored to be even asked to help out at the camp,” Ordonff said. “It is just cool to be out here with all these guys. There is so many legendary people out here too just getting to know and talk with them is pretty cool.”