The Steelers shocked everyone when they traded up into the fifth-round, mortgaging their 2022 fourth-round pick while doing it, to draft Isaiahh Loudermilk. The name was as much of a surprise as the pick and the position itself. However, the Steelers thought Loudermilk might get a redshirt year, at the very least. Instead, the young defensive lineman was thrown right into the lineup with a bevy of injuries.
From the jump, Loudermilk was compared to his elder Cam Heyward. There are similarities between the two. The scheme they ran in college, their wide, beefy build, and the natural hot motor they play with. Seeing so much of himself in him, Heyward was tasked with mentoring the younger Loudermilk. That experience helped Loudermilk grow as much as possible in his first season.
“I mean, he pretty much showed me anything he could,” Loudermilk said. “Any time we were doing drills, we would work together, he would give me little pointers, hand placement and stuff like that so just being able to come in and kind of have a mentor like that helped me a ton. I think that’s one of the big reasons why I felt like I made a pretty big jump from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, just kind of weeks on weeks of taking little things and pretty much watching how he does things and kind of feeding off him, but I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Cam.”
Heyward was the player that helped Loudermilk see those fine details. It is those details that Loudermilk feels he learned this year. When he was young, Heyward himself was a ball of potential that flashed often, but never put things together until later in his career. Still, Loudermilk hopes those lessons will help him as he moves forward in his career.
“There were a bunch,” Loudermilk said. “I don’t think really there’s just one thing I can really point out just because been a lot of small details in the game that I knew about but never really dove into – hand placement, things like that, footwork, where kind of throughout the season just kind of learning all the little things definitely taught me a lot but I wouldn’t say there was one thing I learned that really stuck out.”
Loudermilk will look to take the next step as he enters into his sophomore season. That may mean he is anchored by Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu already on top of the talented Heyward. It could be a seriously impressive deep defensive line for the Steelers if that is the case.