2018 SCU Awards: Steelers Comeback Player of the Year

Steel City Underground presents the 3rd annual SCU Awards. Our panel of contributors all voted on various awards for the Steelers based on their performances in 2018. 

Comment and let us know if you agree or disagree with our winners and nominees. 


This was one of the more lopsided award races this year. This is because one player on the roster managed to not only overcome the injuries that plagued them in 2017, but also greatly improve their performance.

Comeback Player of the Year: Vance McDonald

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I’ll be honest, I was very nervous about Vance McDonald coming into the 2018 season. I was getting some scary Ladarius Green flashbacks – a talented player who couldn’t stay healthy. However, McDonald proved all the doubters wrong and had a very productive season in Pittsburgh.

He may not have always lit up the stat sheet, but he proved to be a monster in many facets of the game. He was a tenacious blocker, fairly reliable receiver, and was a beast after the catch. An underrated aspect of his game also is his ability to make contested catches, which helped the Steelers overcome their redzone woes from 2017. And of course, nobody can forgot his stiff arm from the Tampa Bay game.

McDonald deserves the comeback player of the year award because he came back from a timid, injury-filled 2017 season in a big way. He stayed healthy, playing in 15 games, while also proving he’s capable of overcoming the frequent drops that plagued him through his career. Sure he dropped a ball or two, but he throughout the year he was reliable while also pulling in multiple contested catches.

McDonald is the dynamic tight end they have wanted for awhile and I’m exciting to see him play in 2019.

The votes: Vance McDonald (8), James Conner (2)

Stay tuned as we continue to roll out the remaining SCU awards!

4 responses to “2018 SCU Awards: Steelers Comeback Player of the Year”

  1. Imperial Destroyer says:

    Ok, panel. You’ve really got me shaking my head this time!

    McDonald was never seriously injured in 2017. He had a number of minor injuries, but was able to be a star in the playoffs game. His output increased from about 200 yards from scrimmage to 600 in 2018. Minor injuries. Minor improvement.

    Conner, on the other hand, came back from an injury that required season ending surgery, and increased his production from 150 to 1500 yards!

    I agree that it was a lopsided race, won convincingly by James Conner.

    • Christina "Tina" Rivers says:

      To clarify,
      When we all voted, we decided no one player could win more than one award.
      Trust me, it wasn’t easy because several times there was a player who might be in more than one category.
      I thought maybe that might explain why some of the choices many would think obvious were not.

    • Christina "Tina" Rivers says:

      Conner won another category, so he could not win this one. But your points are spot on.

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