In the past few years, if I were describing a Steelers receiver and told you they were fast, agile, capable of making impactful plays over the middle and as a return specialist, you’d probably think I was describing Antonio Brown. And if I left the description at just those characteristics, I probably would be.
But now what if I keep all those characteristics and add humble, friendly, a man of family and faith and a great locker room presence? Who would I be talking about? Quite simply, Ryan Switzer.
The Steelers stole Switzer from the Raiders last season right before the regular season when they traded away a 6th round pick. The former UNC product had just been drafted out of Dallas in the fourth round a year prior.
Switzer was a standout at UNC, logging 243 catches for over 2,900 yards and 19 touchdowns in his four-year career. He also logged another 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns as a return man in that same time frame.
The guy has talent, but more than that, he has a big heart and despite his smaller stature, he may very well be the toughest man on the field every single Sunday.
Switzer isn’t about his own stats, he’s about winning and helping out his football team.
I want to have a big year, I want to build on what I did last year, I think the opportunity is there for me to do that. It will be interesting to see how that plays out and to see how much I can help JuJu and to see how much I can be on the same page as Ben. - R. Switzer
Nothing in there about how he should be the Slot receiver (which he should be). Nothing in there about how he can catch 50 balls (which he will do this year). He just wants to help this team win, however, he can.
I firmly believe Switzer is the best option for this team to be the Slot receiver; and even though the Slot is defined as the “Y” receiver, Switzer is the “X” factor for the Steelers this season.
What he can bring to the offense is a burst of speed, toughness, and a positive, drama-free energy; something that’s been missing the last few seasons.
In addition to that, he’s going to be a playmaker in the return game. He’s fearless, he goes after balls where he knows he’s going to get creamed, all to save this team a few yards and he wants to be the best he can be, for his team, not for himself. That’s admirable and that’s what this locker room needs.
The ultimate goal is to be ready when my number is called and that’s what I’m focusing on. - R. Switzer
Last year when Switzer’s number was called, he pledged donations for every catch he made to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. That’s a cause I believe in (as you all know by now) and I was happy to pledge an offer for every catch Switzer made as well.
I don’t know if 'Switz' plans to do that this year but I plan on pledging $10 per Switzer catch this season; that will go to the hospital. I have a feeling he’s going to put up the stats that will make me pay.
I’m not going to be the only one paying. He’s going to make opposing teams pay this year too. He’s too fast for a lot of defenders to cover. He’s too tough to be afraid to go over the middle, he’s got good hands and more than anything else, he’s not going to sabotage the offense if he isn’t getting his numbers.
Look for Switzer to be a major player for this 2019 version of the Steelers. He is, after all, their “X” factor.