UNITY TWP., Pa. — Jeremy McNichols has bounced around the NFL to this point. The 2017 5th-round pick out of Boise State has now been with nine NFL teams, with his longest tenure being with the Tennessee Titans in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Now, with the Steelers, McNichols is looking to use what he has learned thus far to get himself onto the 53-man roster.
It will be a competition between McNichols, Benny Snell. Anthony McFarland, and others to make the roster, and of course, win the backup running back job behind Najee Harris. So, once McNichols heard the Steelers call late last week, he knew this was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“The situation here looked good,” McNichols said. “I’m here now working hard just trying to earn the respect of all my teammates and my coaches.”
McNichols knows what it means to be a Steeler. In fact, he was one himself. In his first season of pop warner football when he was 10, McNichols played for the Culver City Steelers. While he is now a Pittsburgh Steeler for the first time, there is a certain gravitas that the Steelers organization and name carry. That is one of the biggest reasons that McNichols is so excited to join and play for the Steelers.
“This is the class of the league right here,” McNichols said. “The love from the fans coming out here, makes you want to come out here and work harder. I know this team has a huge tradition. I’ve been following the Steelers since I was 5 or 6 years old. I’ve been knowing about them for a while now. It’s just impressive, and a classy organization. My first year of Pop Warner I played for the Culver City Steelers. It’s been in my blood since I was 10 years old or so.
Jeremy McNichols Ready to Show Identity to Steelers
At Steelers training camp, McNichols has not received a ton of opportunities yet. Outside of the first day where he caught two passes, McNichols has been heavily featured. Still, through drills and individuals, he has an identity he is willing to show. If there is anything that McNichols wants to show the Steelers it is his brand, his toughness.
“They’ll know my toughness,” McNichols said. “I’m going to be out here working hard. I want to bring it every day. I’ve been around the league a little bit, I’ve got experience now. So, I’m playing fast and physically. I’m not scared of any situation that might come my way. That’s what this team has been built on for generations. That’s what they’ll get from me.”
McNichols came from Tennessee, where he put up 360 yards on 88 carries over two seasons. In addition, he caught 40 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown. There is a certain all-around skillset that McNichols brings to the table, and that is what he wants to showcase to the Steelers throughout the rest of the training camp practices into the preseason games.
“I think I can do everything,” McNichols said. “I can a two-down guy, three-down guy. You know, I played third-down a lot, I have experience with that. I’ll play special teams. Whatever they want me to do here, and however I can help this team win.”
Learning With New and Old Teammates
McNichols has played with good players at running back, and Pittsburgh will be no exception with Najee Harris in the backfield. Prior to that, however, McNichols learned under the tutelage of Derrick Henry. Perhaps the best running back in the NFL, McNichols witnessed Henry every week. As is often noted, Henry is a freak of nature, but his mellowness off the field has helped McNichols grow as a player.
“I just learned about being a pro from him, on and off the field,” McNichols said. “It was all about the littlest details. He could break for 50 yards and he still will come back to the room and the coaches about how he can do more. It was all about the little details and his professionalism day-to-day with his leadership, you were going to feel his presence.”
McNichols had the mentor, but now he is with a young back in Harris. While he only just met Harris, McNichols was incredibly impressed by what he saw and even went as far as to call Harris a freak.
“I met Naj,” McNichols said. “He’s a good dude, man. He works hard. That guy is a freak, He had a great rookie year, so I’m excited to see what he does this year.”
McNichols will be working with the rest of the running backs while he competes for the job, but he is clearly amped up and ready to go for whatever comes his way.