Our Ron Lippock spoke with outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper, a Toledo alum that signed a contract with the Steelers after joining the team on a tryout basis for rookie minicamp.
First, can you let us know how you got the tryout in Pittsburgh?
To be honest, I don’t know – it all went through my agent. I was at Kansas City’s rookie mini-camp and it was their last practice when I got calls on my phone. My agent said “Guess what? You’ve been invited to the Steelers’ rookie mini-camp!’” That was on Tuesday. I asked him when it was and he told me Thursday, so it was a quick turnaround.
Kevin Colbert also called me to confirm after that.
What do you think caught their attention enough for them to sign you?
I’m not sure. I guess they liked what I had to offer. Of course, Ola Adeniyi is like my brother. He told me to just be myself. I stayed with him – soaked up all the knowledge he had. He has established himself in Pittsburgh – they all like him – the coaches and trainers – everyone! So I’m learning from the best!
What’s the next step now for you now that you’ve been signed?
Next is just trying to make the 53. I need to learn the playbook and how to drop in coverage. I was a defensive lineman in college – I didn’t drop back. So now I have to show the coaches that I can be versatile. I need to work with the veterans to do so – and in my off time with Ola.
How specifically do you work on that part of your new position as an outside linebacker?
Dropping back is definitely different for me. It’s my first time having to cover running backs, tight ends – even slot receivers sometimes. I just have to get comfortable playing in the open field. I know I can handle the pass rushing part of the position – I excelled at that in college.
How hard was it coming from one camp directly to another – and what were the differences between the two?
The biggest difference was the culture of the two teams, ultimately. Pittsburgh has a history of winning. It’s just different than Kansas City. And Pittsburgh is much more physical – that was a big difference too.
Have you peeked at the roster at all to see where your opportunities may be?
I haven’t had a look yet no. I’m just taking it one day at a time and adjusting to it all.
I’ll get to know more about the organization soon and prove my worth. I want to stay with this team.
How about special teams? That’ll be a big part of making this team. What’s your experience there?
I covered kickoffs in college. I know I’ll need to expand that more, to have a role on all phases of special teams – punts, punt returns … just need to show them I can handle all of those different roles.
Tell me a bit about you off the field – what should we know about you?
I’m the biggest people-person. Most people are often scared to go out and just meet and talk to people. I’m never scared to talk to people. I have no problem being social – I’m a funny guy.
Well you’ll be able to use that when you have to do rookie skits! You got one ready?
Oh absolutely! I’m going to keep it under wraps though!
What else makes you tick?
I like to play games too – I’m a gamer as well. I like 2K basketball, Call of Duty. I’m not like some highly ranked guy or gamer like JuJu – I just do it for fun. I’m a little dangerous but not so much to brag about!
Tell us a bit about the origin of your name?
I’m not sure, to be honest. My mom and dad are both deceased. Both passed away when I was young. After my mom had me she kind of passed out and passed away after. My dad named me but he passed away when I was young too.
Lastly, how crazy is it to be on the same team with your close friend, Ola Adeniyi? Two Toledo linebackers together – what is it about Toledo linebackers?
Yeah – it is crazy! We dreamt about this day in college. It’s crazy to be on the same team. Coming from college most guys don’t even get an opportunity to play in the NFL at all – both of us being on the same team is crazy.
Toledo – it’s a good school. We’re not scared to work harder than anyone else. You’ve got to put in the work. Everyone’s talented at the college level – and now especially in the NFL. The coaches at Toledo drilled that into us – that you have to work harder than anyone else to be successful.