On Jan. 16, Tyler Grisham gave up a chance to compete for a wide-open spot on the Steelers’ roster by signing with the Denver Broncos.
On Jan. 20, the Steelers replaced him with Tyler Beiler, who claims he’s NOT the same guy with a different last name.
“Everybody says I look familiar,” Beiler said after the first two weeks of spring workouts.
And he does look familiar to Grisham – in just about every way.
“I know,” Beiler said. “Same locker, same number, same name.”
Same sticky fingers and just about the same size. But Beiler, at 6 feet, is an inch taller than Grisham, 10 pounds heavier, and is a Pennsylvania native.
Beiler grew up in Ronks outside of Lancaster and helped the Conestoga Valley Buckskins to a 9-3 record and the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship in 2006 with 33 catches for 486 yards and 8 touchdowns.
“I had a good senior year but I guess it wasn’t good enough (to be recruited),” he said. “I was kind of a late bloomer. We had another receiver beside me who was all-state two years. He got a lot of attention.”
Ty Bynum got the Division One scholarship to Rhode Island while Beiler went to Division Three Bridgewater College in Virginia. His two uncles played football there and his mother ran track at nearby James Madison University. Tyler played in both sports at Bridgewater, and played them well.
Beiler moved into the starting lineup in football by the end of his freshman season, and by the end of his senior season ended up as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yardage (3,022), catches (152) and receiving touchdowns (30). He also led the nation in all-purpose yardage and receiving yards per game in 2010 and was named to the AP Little All-America (Divisions II, III and NAIA) second team, among other honors.
In track, Beiler was the Old Dominion Athletic Conference outdoor champ in the 100 meters. He ran a 10.85 after only two days of practice.
That was during the spring of his junior season. He skipped track the following spring to train for the NFL draft and ran a 4.38 40 at the James Madison pro day for a handful of scouts. He also recorded a vertical jump of 40½ inches and benched 225 pounds 18 times.
That workout got him a training-camp invite from the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, and Beiler made it to the end of camp before being cut. He was signed immediately by the Jacksonville Jaguars and spent a month on their practice squad before sitting out the rest of the season.
Beiler was signed early this year to replace Grisham by the Steelers, who have an opening for a No. 5 receiver and a return man, and Beiler is receiving a long look this spring. His quickness is obvious and he’s been in the thick of the action. He even caused the first eruption of the infamous Todd Haley temper late last week when Beiler didn’t look for a pass over the middle during a red-zone drill that in its entirety was agonizing for the new offensive coordinator to watch. Beiler responded two plays later with a diving catch in the corner of the end zone.
Was Beiler upset about Haley’s tirade?
“No,” he said. “It just made me mad.”
That might be the kind of response for which Haley is looking in his search for roster surprises.
“I try not to look at the big picture and just focus on what I have to do,” Beiler said. “And what I have to do right now is work on the playbook and work on some techniques and fundamentals. It’s going to put me in position to hopefully impress down the road.”