by: Mark Kaboly, TribLIVE Updated:PITTSBURGH —
Ty Ezell's first love always has been wrestling.
No, not the kind that could eventually land him in the Olympics.
The mammoth former Pitt defensive tackle -- a Steel Valley graduate -- wants to be just like WWE's The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Goldberg, and he's serious.
Ezell did walk around Ford Field after Pitt won the Little Caesars Bowl in December with a replica WWE championship belt over his head.
“I am really thinking about getting into it,” Ezell said.
Well, only if this professional football thing doesn't work out.
Ezell participated at Pitt's pro day Monday with the hopes that his speed, size and agility can attract the interest of a team in May's NFL Draft.
Ezell wasn't invited to last week's NFL Combine, making Monday's pro day the only time NFL scouts will be able to see him up close.
“Without being invited to the combine, today was very important,” Ezell said. “If you had the combine, today would've been another day to make up with what they didn't feel went well. I just had this one chance and had to take it serious and give it everything I got because you don't get opportunities like this.”
He measured in at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds and benched 225 pounds 22 times, but likely will have to rely on the last two years being Pitt's starting defensive tackle on getting an opportunity with an NFL team.
Ezell, a captain, played in all 13 games as a senior and started 12 at nose tackle. He had 34 tackles and two sacks. In the bowl game, Ezell helped clinch the victory with a sack in the waning moments. In two years, Ezell started 24 games.
Ezell, a two-way three-year starter at Steel Valley from 2006-2008, never saw himself as a potential pro football player until his junior year.
“When I first got here, it was more of being focused on being in college and just trying to be the best player in college at the time,” Ezell said. “It started to get more important to me when I started to play more and became a starter my junior year.”
He said he was listed as a defensive end by some who attended his pro day, but he sees himself as a typical gap-plugging 3-4 nose tackle. He said he spoke with scouts from Kansas City, Indianapolis and Cleveland.
“Over the years, I talked with (Steelers coach Mike) Tomlin and just chit-chatted, and he would give me pointers with my game and what he would like to see me work on and everything,” Ezell said. “I need to work on my pass rush more and get a little stronger than I am.
Ezell, 24, is being projected as a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent, but if football doesn't work out, there always is wrestling.
The WWE does have a handful of wrestlers on its roster that played college football: Titus O'Neil (Florida), Bray Wyatt (Troy), and Roman Reigns (Georgia Tech).
“It is a possibility,” Ezell said. “I was thinking about getting into that if it doesn't work out. That was my first love and still is my first love, to be honest with you.”
(Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.)