Steelers UDFA Making Noise as QB - And Punt Returner

The Pittsburgh Steelers passer is making a name for himself at another position.
Dec 22, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; UCF Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) warms up prior to the Gasparilla Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 22, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; UCF Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) warms up prior to the Gasparilla Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers added former UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to their roster right after the 2024 NFL Draft, including him in their list of undrafted free agent signings, and at the time, adding a fourth quarterback to their roster.

In five years at UCF, Plumlee threw for 5,838 yards and 34 touchdowns while running for 2,556 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Plumlee continues to work with the quarterbacks in Pittsburgh, learning from Russell Wilson and Justin Fields in an offense that seems to be designed for mobile quarterbacks

" I think it would be, you know, I'm not, the fact of the matter, I'm not 6'6", right? I'm not 6'5". I'm not that guy that, you know, 10 years ago everybody wanted in the NFL, right? To stand in there and throw it around, but to be able to be in a system where it's kind of tailored for Russ, right? Like they're going to, that's what, you know, good offenses do," Plumlee told Steelers on Sports Illustrated.

"They tailor for the quarterback that they got playing, and really everybody in this quarterback room is pretty athletic, right? And so, it's tailored for an athletic quarterback, I would say, right? And so, to be able to utilize that in me being an athlete is really good."

But he's not just growing his game as a quarterback. Plumlee has found himself taking full advantage of a roster that is looking for talent - no matter the position. During Organized Team Activities and minicamp, he's worked as a punt returner, showing off his athleticism on special teams as well as offense.

"For me, I'm trying to maximize those opportunities by getting involved with special teams, whatever that looks like, whether it's returning kicks, returning punts, you know, whatever they would have me do," Plumlee said. "And then off to the side of the ball, ready at a moment's notice to go, and they're quarterbacks. So, it's been really fun. And you said it, man, I'm having a blast doing it."

The UDFA is making a name for himself in Pittsburgh. While fans will have to wait until training camp to get a view of his play themselves, the coaching staff has noticed - and are having fun with it.

Plumlee is viewed as a roster bubble candidate who could earn a place on the 53-man by the end of the summer. But even if the team feels confident in their three veteran quarterbacks of Wilson, Fields and Kyle Allen, they may look at their duel-threat passer as a player they can plug-and-play almost anywhere.

"I'm having a blast, man," Plumlee said. "Ultimately, super blessed to be here, you know, and have the opportunity that I have. And so, super excited for the opportunities moving forward."

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Noah Strackbein

NOAH STRACKBEIN

Noah is the Publisher for All Steelers, Inside the Panthers (InsideThePanthers.com) and Inside the Penguins (InsidethePenguins.com), and is the host of All Steelers Talk (YouTube.com/AllSteelersTalk). A Scranton native, Noah made his way to the Pittsburgh sports scene in 2017. Now, he's pretty much full-yinzer.