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Old 04-28-2009, 12:26 AM   #1
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Default Hard work awaits Steelers top pick Hood

Hard work awaits Steelers top pick Hood
By Scott Brown
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First-round draft pick Evander "Ziggy" Hood made his first public appearance Monday as a Steeler and revealed, among other things, that he will wear No. 96 with his new team and that his roller-skating days are over.

The Missouri defensive end proved to be funny, engaging and humble during a news conference that followed the awarding of a ceremonial No. 1 Steelers jersey by team president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin.

Hood also was realistic.

"It is going to take me awhile," the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder said of making the transition to the NFL. "It is just another learning curve I will have to do all over again, but every day I am going to take it step by step and get more (in) the playbook."

Fortunately for the Steelers, they have the luxury of not rushing Hood into action.

Starting defensive ends Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel return this season, and they will allow the Steelers to bring Hood along slowly as well as help him learn the finer points of playing end in a 3-4 defense.

Hood played tackle in a 4-3 defense at Missouri.

"Ziggy is light years from playing right now," Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell said. "This is my 16th year, and (nose tackle) Casey (Hampton) is the only one that came in here as a draft choice that played consistently for us his first year. It's a learning curve for a guy to come in here and play our scheme."

What bodes well for the Steelers is that Mitchell is one of the best defensive line coaches in the game and that Hood has things that can't be taught such as smarts and the drive to play every snap as if it might be his last.

"A lot of times when scouts go out and look at a guy, you say, 'Well, this guy plays high and he doesn't use his hands,'" Mitchell said. "I am not worried about that. That's what you pay me to do."

Hood, though, will have to do his part as well.

"It is not going to be easy," Mitchell said. "Here is a guy who is going to have to work really hard."

Hood, who earned All-Big 12 honors as a football player and a student at Missouri, knows a thing about hard work.

His news conference yesterday took an entertaining turn when Hood talked about working at a Sonic Drive-In as a high school student in Amarillo, Texas.

"I could pretty much do everything," he said, "from flipping patties to car hopping, riding around on roller skates."

Hood, who worked while playing football and going to school so he could earn extra money for his family, said he sometimes punched the clock on Saturdays after playing in a game.

He put in enough time on the job that when a Missouri coach offered him a scholarship during a visit, he did so at Sonic instead of at Hood's home.

That explains why Tomlin good-naturedly told Hood he wanted to place an order for a hamburger when they first talked after the Steelers had drafted Hood.

Of the two-plus years he worked at Sonic, Hood said, "It taught me how to work, and the more you work the better chance at life you are going to get."

Hood has plenty of work ahead of him.

But of the many things the Steelers will ask of Hood, putting on a pair of roller skates is not among them.

"I think I am too clumsy now," Hood said when asked about roller skating. "Back when I was 240 or 230, I think I could move around a whole lot better."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 04-28-2009, 02:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hard work awaits Steelers top pick Hood

i like him! tonss of potential and he sounds like he has a genuine, steeler-like, personality that will fit in well with the team
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: Hard work awaits Steelers top pick Hood

I like the sound of Hood he sounds like he will work hard and try to do his best in the system. Hopefully he will break into the lineup soon.
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hard work awaits Steelers top pick Hood

He sounds like he'll fit in well in the locker room and has a good sense of humor. He'll need it!
"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 04-28-2009, 07:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: Hard work awaits Steelers top pick Hood

I'm glad he's here. He's got alot to prove and alot to learn to fit in with this defense, and I hope he proves it to everyone. Like many 1st round draft rookies he'll come in with alot of raw potential. It's up to him and our coaching staff to make him great.
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