Jason Huntley, like the other running backs on the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be competing for the team’s third running back spot behind Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. Huntley was signed to the team’s practice squad last season and stayed on it for a majority of the season before being waived.
Huntley re-signed with the Steelers in January on a reserve/future contract and will look to compete for at least a spot on the team’s practice squad once again. Last season, Huntley was one of two running backs on the Steelers practice squad along with Anthony McFarland Jr.
Unfortunately for Huntley, the team opted for McFarland when both Harris and Warren went down with an injury midseason which left Huntely without a game appearance in 2022. While it is likely that the team will favor McFarland’s experience again in 2023, there is a path for the former New Mexico State Aggie to make the Steelers’ final 53-man roster.
Huntley excelled as a kickoff returner during his time in college as he totaled five career kickoff touchdowns including an FBS-best three in 2018. With last year’s starter, Steven Sims, gone in free agency and Gunner Olszewski struggling in 2022, the easiest path to cracking the final roster is to win the starting returner gig.
The problem with that for Huntley is that he only covered kickoffs and not punts at New Mexico State. Huntley will have to show that he can do both at the NFL level for the Steelers to even give him a fair look at the starting job in 2023. He has training camp and the preseason to prove his worth in that phase of the game.
Regardless, Huntley will compete for the final running back spot with a pair of rookies, Darius Hagans and Alfonzo Graham, and McFarland. He will also try to pressure Olszewski and wide receiver Jordan Byrd for the starting returner job.
Nonetheless, Huntley is a familiar face within the Steelers organization and will have the edge to make the practice squad over the rookies if all else fails.
38 • Jason Huntley, Running Back, New Mexico State
5-foot-9, 195 pounds, 25 years old, 4th Season
Acquired: The Steelers signed Huntley to the team’s practice squad on Sept. 2, 2022, after the Philadelphia Eagles cut him prior to the 2022 season. He signed a reserve/future contract with the Steelers on Jan. 10, 2023.
Last Year: Huntley was signed to the team’s practice squad in early September but was waived in favor of cornerback help prior to the team’s Week 6 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Huntley did rejoin the team on a reserve/future contract in January of 2023.
For the first time since joining the NFL in 2020, Huntley failed to play in at least one regular season game and ended the season with no official stats.
Career: The Detroit Lions drafted Huntley with the 172nd overall pick in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of New Mexico State. Huntley failed to make the Lions’ initial 53-man roster and was waived during the team’s final roster cuts in 2020.
Huntley was claimed off of waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles a day later and made the team’s final roster heading into the season. He made his NFL debut in Week 1 against the Washington Football Team as he recorded one carry for one yard. In total for his rookie season, Huntley played in five games and finished with five carries for 19 rushing yards. He also added one reception for zero yards.
Huntley spent the 2021 season on the Eagles practice squad until the team promoted him to the active roster for the final regular season game against the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, Huntley totaled 13 carries for 51 yards on 17 offensive snaps.
In his career so far, Huntley tallied six games played and 18 carries for 70 yards while not scoring a touchdown.
College: Coming out of Arlington High School in Texas, Huntley committed to New Mexico State prior to the 2016 season. Huntley appeared in 11 games as a true freshman and recorded one start. His lone start came against Kentucky as he recorded seven carries for 34 yards. Huntley finished his true freshman campaign with 40 carries for 167 yards and one rushing touchdown. He added eight receptions for 35 yards in 2016.
Huntley played in 12 games as a sophomore and made four starts at running back. He finished the year with 70 carries for 420 yards and one rushing touchdown. He also added 39 receptions for 363 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Huntley added two kickoff return touchdowns to finish the year with five total touchdowns and 1,316 all-purpose yards.
As a junior in 2018, Huntley set career highs in every statistical category. He played in 12 games and made 11 starts as he finished with 109 carries for 505 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. As a receiver, Huntley added 47 receptions for 529 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He also added three kickoff return touchdowns.
In 2019, Huntley recorded a career-high 154 carries for 1,090 yards and nine touchdowns. He hauled in 40 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the year averaging 7.1 yards per carry which ranked fourth in the entire nation.
During his entire collegiate career, Huntley totaled 373 rushing attempts for 2,181 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Through the air, Huntley hauled in 134 receptions for 1,119 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. He also returned five kickoffs for touchdowns as an Aggie.
|Year||GP||Carries||Rush Yards||Rush TDs||Receptions||Rec. Yards||Rec. TDs|
Salary cap and future: Huntley is signed through the end of the 2023 season when he will become a free agent. He will cost $870,000 against the Steelers’ 2023 cap space with all of it being base salary. If the Steelers were to waive Huntley, the team would not have to eat any dead money.
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