Kent State Coach Calls New Steelers RB/WR Dri Archer A ‘Natural Punt Catcher’

During his career at Kent State, new Pittsburgh Steelers running back/wide receiver Dri Archer showed how dangerous he was a kick returner. So why did the 5-8, speed burner only return six punts during his four years there and zero in 2013? On Wednesday, Kent State’s offensive coordinator Brian Rock finally set the record straight about Archer and his punt returning abilities during an interview on The David Todd Show.

“We had him all geared up to be our punt returner and in the very first series of the first game he got a high ankle sprain,” said Rock. “So he dealt with that for a long, long time over the course of the season and in the meantime, while he was out, we developed another guy that we said, ‘Ok, we’re just going to field the ball and make sure that we do that and not try to put him in jeopardy’ and so he stuck pretty much with returning kickoffs. But he’s a natural punt catcher. He doesn’t have any problems fielding the ball and I think in the NFL that’ll be a huge piece of his puzzle.”

Rock’s explanation certainly helps clear things up as far as Archer’s punt return abilities go. It’s good to hear that he really has a legitimate chance to handle both duties this season and that will result in less wear and tear on wide receiver Antonio Brown as well.

In addition to making a name for himself as a kick returner at Kent State, Archer also carried the football 325 times for 2,342 yards and 24 touchdowns over a four-year span. Rock believes that even though his former star player will be considered very undersized at the NFL level as a running back, that his skills as a ball career are very underrated.

“He’s really fast and that’s what everybody talks about, but I’m not convinced that’s his greatest quality,” said Rock. “He has unbelievable vision. He can really see things and he has a great change of direction, so he rarely takes a direct hit and I think that’s one of the things that really helped him over the long run. And I’ve always said, he’s not a fast guy that plays football, he’s a football player that plays fast.”

So how’s Archer in pass protection?

“He’ll come in and cut them down with the best of them,” said Rock. “He’ll take them on up top. He’s not a coward, that’s for dang sure.”

Finally, despite being so successful at the college level, Rock doesn’t believe that his former player has let any of that go to his head. In fact, he expects him to fit right in with the Steelers both on and off the field.

“He’s an outstanding young man. Pittsburgh will love what he brings to the table off the field as far as character and work ethic and those kinds of things. He’s just a pleasure to be around. He’s not a real flamboyant personality-wise, but he’s a real charismatic guy that attracts other people to follow.”

Hopefully most of Archer’s followers will be defenders chasing him from behind.

  • Caesar

    I still think this was a bad pick. But since I had better get used to having him around, does anyone know for sure how his first name is supposed to be pronounced? I have heard it as both “Dree” and “Dry”. Anyone know which it is?

  • Its pernounced “Dray”

  • Caesar

    OK then. I was 0 for 2. Thanks.

  • Kurt Williams

    First name is pronounced DREE …

  • shawn

    The Coach points out exactly what i believe as well … he’s not just a fast kid & is very underrated as a pure runner and his nasty vision is very evident on tape as well !

  • Paddy

    yes above all he is a RB, glad we got that out of the way

  • joed32

    7.2 yards per carry at RB.

  • shawn

    Its good to hear about his punt catching abilities from the coach … but I’m still a little skeptical … i see the reasoning for not doing it in 2013 (ankle injury) … but then why didnt he do it in 2012 when he was all over the field … hope it was because they wanted to give him a breather


    His older brothers are named “eins” and “zwei.”


    Caesar, in a league of such parity, many games are decided by 3 or less points. Therefore, I think having a game changer in Archer will lead to better field position, hence more points. So I support the decision, although I do wish we would of drafted a more polished CB.

  • cencalsteeler

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict Archer will be the biggest impact rookie player on the Steelers roster this year. He’s going to be a game changer fellas!!

  • Eric MacLaurin

    As many legit questions as there are about his size there hasn’t been much discussion of the possibility that he could end up being an elite player. I’m not calling it, but like a pitcher with a 100 mph fastball and questions about secondary pitches, he has tools that could make him a game changer if everything comes together.

    BTW – I would be happy with 2 touches a game if they were both touchdowns. I don’t care about touches if he is very productive with the touches and also drags 2 defenders from the play when he isn’t involved.

  • shawn

    Im kinda on that thought as well … he will make a HUGE impact day 1 !

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s actually pronounced “Dree”, not “Dray”.

  • Dan

    Hope so. With games being so close these days, just a few special teams TDs can make the difference between a 10-6 season and a 7-9 season.

  • cencalsteeler


  • Matt Manzo

    Ankle sprains don’t linger, right? Shouldn’t that heal up?