A shoulder injury caused a quick end to Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth’s 2020 season, but the second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers says that he’s fully healthy and ready to go for the 2021 season.
Freiermuth suffered the shoulder injury in Penn State’s second game of the season against Ohio State, played through it for two more weeks before shutting down his season after four games.
The injury required surgery, and while Freiermuth was not a full participating in Penn State’s pro day activities in late March, he says he is now ready to go full bore with the Steelers.
“My shoulder’s fully healthy,” he said after being drafted on Friday night. “I got cleared a few weeks ago to do everything. Full contact, everything like that. I think I got the surgery at the right time which allowed me to be fully healthy before my NFL career and rookie minicamp so I can go through that whole process and get my whole routine. I’m fully healthy. I’m ready to go and I’m excited to get into that offense and make some plays.”
The Steelers will likely want to use Freiermuth right away, with him expected to slot behind or alongside Eric Ebron as the team’s No. 2 tight end this fall.
A worse injury or one that happened later in the 2020 season could have derailed Freiermuth’s draft prospects, but he said he had no second thoughts about returning to Penn State for a third season. Freiermuth had initially declared for the draft after the Big Ten canceled its 2020 season, but then returned to State College when the league reversed that decision.
“First of all, I wanted to play this season because I love Penn State,” Freiermuth said. “I love that whole community. I love everything that they’ve done for me. I’ve said this multiple times that I owe that university more than it owes me. So, every chance that I can go out there and put a Penn State jersey on, I was going to do it. I never thought of opting out. When the season got canceled, I was like, what’s my next step? But I was waiting for them to put it back on. So, when they did, I was excited about that. I have no regrets about going out there and playing the season and getting hurt.”
Freiermuth also added that he feels like he gained an experience from going through the rehab process and will be better able to handle it when injuries eventually come as a pro.
“You never want to get hurt, but that’s the first major injury I’ve ever had, hopefully the last one, and I learned a lot from that adversity-wise,” he said. “So, I’ll take those lessons and I cherish them. I have no regrets.”