Of all of the tryouts at Steelers rookie minicamp, Duquesne wide receiver Dwayne Menders Jr. might have had the shortest commute. From the practice field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side, you can see across the Monongahela River to parts of Duquesne’s campus.
With the close proximity to Duquesne, Menders felt like he was at home on the South Side during the Steelers’ two-day rookie minicamp.
“It was good. Being just across the river. I only played one season (at Duquesne), but it definitely feels like home,” Menders told Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh.
Menders, who stands at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, believes his speed is his best attribute.
“I feel like the past two days, you know, I’m from Miami. I tried to show them that Miami speed and whatnot,” Menders said. “Getting in and out of my breaks, ball security, no dropped balls. That’s pretty much it.”
Menders thinks he can play in the slot and on the outside in the NFL.
“I can definitely play both,” Menders said. “They’ve been putting me at both. It feels like back at college but a little more upbeat to it. Everything is faster, everything is smoother. You just got to be on point with what you do out here.”
Menders came to Duquesne in 2022 as a graduate transfer after playing for Marist from 2018-21. He played 11 games in his one season on The Bluff, and he caught 55 passes for 917 yards and six touchdowns, leading the Dukes in catches, receiving yards and yards per game.
Menders had five 100-yard receiving games in 2022. He also contributed 74 rushing yards on 14 carries and was a punt and kick returner. He averaged 18.4 yards per kickoff return and 3.5 yards per punt return. In total, he paced the Dukes with 1,185 all-purpose yards.
Maybe it was the close-by locale, but Menders said he didn’t feel overwhelmed by the environment of an NFL minicamp. He felt like it was more of a family-type of atmosphere.
“It’s not really anxious. It feels more like family,” Menders said. “Everybody has the one goal. Everybody is trying to be great here every time we step on the field.”
The Steelers did not draft a wide receiver and did not sign one as an undrafted free agent, so there possibly could be a spot for Menders on their 90-man offseason roster. If Menders doesn’t sign with the Steelers or another NFL team, there should be an opportunity for him in the XFL, USFL or CFL.