Tue, 09 Aug 2022

No lack of confidence

The Steelers
30 Jun 2022, 06:30 GMT+10

Teresa Varley

Confidence.

It's something every athlete must have. Something that must be a part of their DNA.

And there might not be anyone on the Steelers roster that has confidence a part of them as much as rookie quarterback Chris Oladokun, a seventh-round draft pick out of South Dakota State.

Because he even has it tattooed on his body.

"I believe in myself," said Oladokun. "I have the ultimate belief in myself. I even have confidence tattooed on myself, on my left bicep. That's how much I believe in myself, and it's an ambigram. So, upside down it's strength. Without the confidence and strength, you can't fight through adversity.

"Hearing no multiple times, that is something that I sort of live my life by. Everyone's not going to believe in you. But if you don't believe in yourself, you're never going be able to get it done.

"Being a quarterback, you have to be tough. You're going to hear a lot, the highs, and the lows. You're going to get praised and people are going to beat you down when you don't do your job to the best, or what they think is the best. I've been through a lot of adversity. I think I'm built for any situation that's been thrown at me. I'm just ready to see where this journey takes me."

Oladokun hasn't had the easiest journey to the NFL, starting his college career at South Florida, before going to Samford and then South Dakota State. It was a challenge, but he isn't afraid of a challenge.

"It can be tough to go through all that, especially in the time we live in now where you hear people talking," said Oladokun. "People have said he is probably done playing football when I transferred, or he hasn't started here so he's a bust or, he's not good, or whatever the case may be. I heard those things. I just use it as fuel to keep on going."

And it's paid off. At South Dakota State he threw for 3,164 yards, 25 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 2021. He rushed for 166 yards and had two touchdown receptions.

That helped translate into him being one of the Steelers seventh round draft picks, and he is making the most of it.

While he knows there is competition at the position, with veterans Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, and No. 1 pick Kenny Pickett, he understands his role and is working to do whatever is asked of him.

"I think it's important for me to embrace my role in whatever capacity that is," said Oladokun. "Whether I'm thrown into a role this year where I'm starting on Sunday, whether it's a role where we're playing the Ravens and I have to act like Lamar Jackson for that week, or the Bengals and I am acting like Joe Burrow in practice. If I'm the guy on the sideline that Mitch, Kenny, or Mason comes to you and ask me for a certain look, I've got to know my stuff and give them those answers. Whatever my role is I have to do it to the best of my ability."

And that ability includes something that is a hot commodity these days, something the Steelers are looking for in a quarterback.

Mobility.

"I think I bring a lot of athleticism with my feet and how I can extend plays outside the pocket, the different arm angles and slots I can throw in," said Oladokun. "The quarterback position has definitely changed, and I don't think there's a better time to come into the National Football League. I bring that athletic component.

"All the guys in the quarterback room are mobile. I don't think we have any statues back there in the pocket. But with my mobility, we see a lot of good defensive ends and defensive tackles in the league nowadays. It's a challenge getting away from those guys and extending the plays. It's something that gives me a leg up because of how mobile I am and how I can create."

While waiting to report to training camp at Saint Vincent College, Oladokun isn't just working on that physical side of his game, but also the mental side. He utilized OTAs, minicamp and the offseason program to pick up every tidbit he can, but he knows hitting the playbook now is a key as well.

"I took every single day and was a sponge, talking to vets and coaches and will keep doing that," said Oladokun. "It's definitely a lot they threw at us right away, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm getting to know the coaching staff and they're also getting to know me and how I pick up things and how quickly I can learn.

"I am always studying film, studying the playbook. I love knowing exactly what everyone's doing. I want to make sure I know my responsibility, and the other 10 guys responsibility on the field as well. As a quarterback you are ultimately responsible for all those guys. I think that's the most important part.

"Anything I can do to help the team at the end of the year hoist that trophy, that's what I want to do."

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