Snapshot: Arnold Harrison

Snapshot: Arnold Harrison

So many Arnold Harrison stories, but which one does he want to discuss?

A.) The youngster who avoided private school by signing a contract about schoolwork with his mother.

B.) The recruit who followed Kendrell Bell from inner-city Augusta to Athens and eventually to Pittsburgh.

C.) The angry freshman linebacker who was almost moved to defensive end to better suit his temper.

D.) The mature upperclassman who's never tasted alcohol or tobacco but has tasted his own red velvet cake.

E.) None of the above.

The answer's easy. It's E as in Every rookie in an NFL camp wants to tell the story that hasn't been written.

But Harrison, the Steelers' undrafted rookie linebacker from Georgia, has two dreams in athletics. After all, he's a high-school golfer from Augusta.

"No, I never had the opportunity to play Augusta National," he said. "I visited a couple of times during the (Masters) tournament, but never had the opportunity to play. A lot of people live in Augusta who'll never get to step foot inside the premises."

Things would be different if Harrison were a celebrity, or a Steeler.

"If I make this team, that will be a good boost in my favor. You know, make the team, be a Steeler, go home. 'Yeah, he plays for the Steelers.' Yeah, they'll probably let me in," he said. "I hope you write an article and somebody hears me say I want to play it and they'll take pity on me or something."

Done. And Harrison does have a chance. The Steelers are looking for young linebackers.

Going into camp, the Steelers have an outside spot up for grabs between unproductive veteran Alonzo Jackson, practice-squadder Dedrick Roper and another undrafted free agent. Inside, a roster spot's being contested by a fifth-round draft pick and a third undrafted free agent. Just on numbers alone, Harrison is in the thick of the mix. And being from the farm team, Georgia, certainly doesn't hurt his chances.

"Oh, man, everybody there loves Pittsburgh for some reason, probably because they run the ball and play good defense," Harrison said. "Everybody loves Pittsburgh. I've always been a pretty good Pittsburgh fan. Everybody at Georgia loves Hines. Everybody loves The Bus. And I was even a fan of Tim Lester, the Bus driver."

So Harrison does know his Steelers history.

"Yeah, man. Bam Morris and all the other guys. It hurt my heart when they lost the Super Bowl to Dallas that year. Neil O'Donnell threw a couple interceptions. But, yeah, I've been a Pittsburgh fan for a long time."

Harrison has a reputation as a hard-working linebacker. Coming out of college, the 6-3, 236-pounder was considered a better strong-side 4-3 backer, but he could develop either inside or outside with the Steelers.

Scouts like his knee-bend, leverage and tackling ability. He's quick enough to cover backs but has questionable instincts.

Harrison played special teams as a freshman at Georgia before backing up the middle linebacker as a sophomore. Harrison started on the strong side as a junior and had his most productive season.

As a senior, Harrison was bothered by a pinched nerve in his shoulder and started only six games. It could be the reason the Steelers were able to sign this big, strong, smart and quick linebacker after the draft.

If that's the case, look out golf world.

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