Chase Claypool is a Late Bloomer Who Was Just "Drafted Into the Right Situation"

The Pittsburgh Steelers found a second-round wide receiver in Chase Claypool, and Claypool found his perfect NFL fit.
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PITTSBURGH -- Chase Claypool's journey to the NFL was, well, unique. After throwing his high school tape on Facebook for friends and family to see, he received offers to compete at college camps and the rest is history. 

The 6'4, 238-pound wide receiver from Abbotsford, Canada found his way to a Notre Dame high school recruiting camp and found himself there for four years, catching 150 passes for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns. 

When he left for the 2020 NFL Draft, Claypool caught the attention of scouts across the NFL for his big size and 4.42 40-yard speed. 

"I think that's something that a lot of teams talked about with me is just that combination or size and speed," Claypool said. "It allows offenses to do a lot of different things and a lot of coaches are excited about that. I'm excited to bring those two to the table and offer what I have." 

One of those teams were the Pittsburgh Steelers. With their first pick in the 2020 Draft, 49th overall, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert decided the Notre Dame wideout was too good to pass up on. 

"I had no clue that the Steelers were going to draft me," Claypool said. "I was with Coach Tomlin at the Senior Bowl but that was it. I also talked to their offensive scouts, but that would've been my last guess." 

When he got the phone call that he was headed to the Steelers, the next person to pick up the phone and dial his number was his new quarterback. 

Ben Roethlisberger already got one present this offseason when the team signed tight end Eric Ebron to a two-year deal. Now, he's got another bulky wideout to work with. 

Following Roethlisberger's call, JuJu Smith-Schuster shot Claypool a text to tell him he's excited to get to work. It may have been the first time to two have talked as teammates, but it's not the first time Claypool heard of his new running mate. 

"JuJu is one of those guys I'd watch on film in my senior year," Claypool said on players he model's himself after. "Naturally, it's usually DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen and Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones. I watch a whole bunch of receivers, so it really depends on what day you ask me."

Claypool didn't break into the NFL radar until his senior year at Notre Dame, adding 66 catches for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns to his career total. He acknowledges it took time to find his way, crediting hard-work and confidence for the success. Still, he knew his potential throughout his collegiate career. 

"You can say I'm a late bloomer in the sense that I've never really had my time to shine until my junior, senior year," he said. "I also thought I had the skill set, I just had to prove it year after year. I definitely broke out my senior year." 

Now that he's in Pittsburgh, he's looking to find even more success. Smith-Schuster has turned his short career into a Pro Bowl caliber one. Some say his play with Roethlisberger has been perfect. 

Claypool feels it can be the same with him. 

"A big thing is going into the right situation when you get drafted and obviously you can't control that but some guys are lucky enough to be put into that situation," Claypool said. "I think getting on a historic team with a proven background is a pretty cool opportunity, especially playing for a quarterback like Ben who's been in the league for a long time and knows exactly what it takes to succeed. 

"I was fortunate enough to be drafted into the right situation."