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Former Duquesne WR DJ Powell Blessed for Steelers Camp Opportunity

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Former Duquesne wide receiver DJ Powell.

DJ Powell has been playing football for a long time. While it started as a game, he knows it’s not anymore. He can’t simply play the game he loves without a purpose. The purpose now is clear. It’s a job.

Powell — a 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver from Deerfield Beach, Fla. — finished his graduate season at Duquesne in November, wrapping up the best season of his collegiate career, and it’s his job now to earn an opportunity in professional football.

He isn’t guaranteed a spot in the NFL, but there’s a reason he earned an invite to the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie camp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex over the weekend.

“It’s a blessing,” Powell told Pittsburgh Sports Now over the weekend. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here and just play at the highest level.

“Three things that have stuck with me throughout this whole process, the whole two days, are alignment, assignment and being confident in what you’re doing and being exactly where you need to be. That’ll get you a long way.”

Powell arrived in Pittsburgh before the 2023-24 season with just one season of eligibility remaining. He spent his first four seasons at Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla. but wasn’t able to make the impact he wanted. So, he came to Pittsburgh with the goal of reaching the heights he expected for himself.

Powell hauled in 34 receptions for 713 yards (21 yards per reception) and nine touchdowns last season — nearly doubling his prior two seasons of production at Bethune-Cookman. In three seasons with the Wildcats, he recorded 49 receptions for 861 yards (17.6 yards per reception) and three touchdowns.

He wasn’t especially impressive at his Pro Day, measuring in at 6-foot-2 (and a half) and 192 pounds and putting up a 4.72 40-yard dash and 29-and-a-half vertical, but his All-NEC first-team campaign caught the eye of professional teams.

Over the weekend with the Steelers, Powell learned a lot about himself. But

“I’m gonna get you everything I got, I’m gonna go 110 miles every play,” Powell said. “I’m gonna give it my all because this is what I love. I’ve been playing football since I was five, so I take this job very seriously. This is a job to be able to play football all day, every day, all night, so you gotta study, live it, breathe it, everything.”

He worked hard at the Steelers minicamp, and while he wasn’t able to earn a contract, he will continue to chase his football dreams, whether that happens in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.

“The goal is to ultimately play at the highest level, the NFL, but if the NFL doesn’t work out, I’m open to proceed with my football career wherever it takes me,” Powell said. “I’m blessed to be here with the Pittsburgh Steelers and just taking it day by day.”

The NFL isn’t the end of the line for professional football players these days. The CFL is the top league outside the United States, but the UFL (which combined the XFL and the USFL) operates in the spring.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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