UNITY TWP., Pa. — Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith reported to training camp at St. Vincent College $68 million richer than he was the week before.
Highsmith’s new contract with the Steelers, which runs through 2027, will provide the 25-year-old North Carolina native with a life-changing amount of money. But Highsmith vows that it won’t change him.
On that note, he’s off to a strong start.
Highsmith and the rest of the Steelers reported to training camp on Wednesday. He was among the first to arrive, driving a stock black pickup truck. He carried his second load of belongings into Rooney Hall in a garbage bag, mattress roll in hand, looking every bit like a freshman that might be doing the same thing next month.
$70 million man Alex Highsmith. Uncertain if the bag is stuffed with Benjamins or merely twenties. pic.twitter.com/p9eqWRTosJ
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) July 26, 2023
Except that Highsmith is 6-foot-4, 242 pounds, and now worth the GDP of a small country.
Highsmith’s story isn’t typical, even for an NFL player. An unrated recruit out of high school, he walked on to a Group of Five school at Charlotte. That’s not where most NFL players come from.
His path required hard work, faith and dedication to move up from walk-on, to scholarship player, to college star, to a third-round draft pick, NFL regular, and the budding NFL star he showed he can be in 2022.
His work to continue that growth on the field starts when the Steelers have their first practice on Thursday. For now, Highsmith, his old TV, and his video games will be living the simple life.
“It never will (change who I am),” he said. “Football is what I do, it’s not who I am. I’m a follower of Christ. That’s where my identity is. No dollar amount, achievements aside, I know who I am, so that’s always who I’m going to be. … For me, it’s never been about the money, it’s just about the love of the game. I’m just thankful and blessed to be here for for year and get to work.”
The Steelers took a bit of a risk in locking up Highsmith for four more years after just one season of outstanding production. But his poise and maturity as a young player make him an easy choice to bet on going forward.