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Steelers All 90: James Nyamwaya Sought Steelers Coaching



Steelers James Nyamwaya

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed James Nyamwaya out of Merrimack College as an undrafted free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft. While the team knows that Nyamwaya finding significant playing time is a long shot, he was signed as a depth piece after a stellar final three seasons in college.

In his final two seasons at Division III Curry College, Nyamwaya totaled 121 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Following his junior season at Curry, Nyamwaya realized that he had the potential to end up in the NFL someday and decided to transfer to a higher level of college football to help prepare for that next jump.

“After my junior year, I kind of felt like at that level I was bigger than everyone, stronger than everyone, faster than everyone,” said Nyamwaya. “I just felt I definitely much more that could play with better competition so I decided to make that jump and play at a higher level.”

Merrimack is two levels higher than Curry College but that did not stop Nyamwaya from having another breakout season. In 2022, he posted career-highs with 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Nyamwaya stated that playing at the Division III level and FCS level taught him a valuable lesson in regard to effort.

“What I learned is just to work hard no matter what’s going on,” Nyamwaya said. “If you’re having a good day, a bad day, just keep working either way and something good will come out of it.”

After his lone season at Merrimack, Nyamwaya felt that he showed enough to earn a chance in the NFL. Multiple teams called Nyamwaya following the draft but he ended up signing with the Steelers. A main attraction for Nyamwaya was Steelers’ defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.

“I was pretty confident that I was gonna get an opportunity [in the NFL,]” Nyamwaya stated. “I was talking to a couple of teams near the end of the draft… but I just really like Coach Dunbar and the [defensive] lineman that come out of the Steelers and obviously they are usually pretty dominant. So, I decided to come here and learn as much as I could and I think that will help me and my career in the NFL.”

In the NFL, Nyamwaya projects as an interior defensive lineman that could play a multitude of positions. With his size and quick feet, he could line up as a three-technique, a 4i, or just as a base defensive tackle. With guys like Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi on the roster, Nyamwaya is trying to soak in all that he can from the veterans to help further his own career.

“I’m just excited to learn from [those guys,]” said Nyamwaya. “Obviously, they have been doing it for a long time so they have a lot of information that I don’t and obviously it’s just gonna help me get better as a player.”

While it is a long shot that Nyamwaya makes the final roster, he is in competition with guys such as Jonathan Marshall, Manny Jones, and Isaiahh Loudermilk for a roster spot and a practice squad spot. With training camp underway and the preseason games upcoming, Nyamwaya will have many chances to impress the coaches prior to the regular season.

Regardless, Nyamwaya was a highly sought-after undrafted free agent and if he fails to make the Steelers practice squad, he is likely to find another opportunity elsewhere.

66 • James Nyamwaya, Defensive Lineman, Merrimack
6-foot-5, 305 pounds, 24 years old, 1st Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Nyamwaya as an undrafted free agent on April 30, 2023, following the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Steelers James Nyamwaya

Steelers defensive linemen James Nyamwaya and Isaiahh Loudermilk practice a drill at the team’s OTAs in May 2023.

Last seasonPrior to the 2022 season, Nyamwaya decided to transfer to Merrimack College, two levels higher than Division III,  for his final collegiate season. At Merrimack, Nyamwaya appeared in 10 games for the Warriors and had a breakout season. He posted 27 combined tackles, one forced fumble, and career highs in tackles for loss and sacks. He finished the 2022 season with 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

In total between Curry and Merrimack, Nyamwaya appeared in 36 collegiate games while recording 163 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Steelers James Nyamwaya

Steelers defensive lineman James Nyamwaya practices a drill at the team’s OTAs in June of 2023.

CollegeNyamwaya started his collegiate career at Curry College, a Division III school, before transferring to Merrimack for his final season. In 2018, Nyamwaya appeared in seven games for the Colonials and posted 15 total tackles, one tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery.

As a sophomore in 2019, Nyamwaya appeared in all 10 games for Curry College and his production exploded. He finished the season with 60 total tackles, four tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. He finished second on the team with his four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

The entirety of Division III decided to cancel their football seasons in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In 2021, Nyamwaya stayed consistent and totaled 61 combined tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble in nine games. Following the season, the league’s coaches named Nyamwaya first-team All-CCC.

In his Curry career, Nyamwaya appeared in 26 games and totaled 136 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and one forced fumble.

Year School GP Tackles TFLs Sacks FFs
2018 Curry College 7 15 1.0 0.0 0
2019 Curry College 10 60 4.0 2.5 0
2020 Curry College 0 0 0.0 0.0 0
2021 Curry College 9 61 4.0 1.0 1
2022 Merrimack 10 27 6.5 5.5 1

Salary cap and future: Nyamwaya signed with the Steelers as a priority free agent so his contract is for three years and $2.7 million in total. If he makes the team in 2023, Nyamwaya will cost $754,666 against the Steelers’ 2023 cap space. He is signed with the Steelers through the end of the 2025 season when he will become a restricted free agent.

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