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New Steelers DT Javon Hargrave Explains History Behind ‘Gravedigger’ Nickname

The Pittsburgh Steelers are certainly excited about new defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and the South Carolina State product already has a nickname that he hopes will stick with him at the NFL level.

“When I first got to (South Carolina State), my friends called me Grave because of my last name,” Hargrave said via phone Monday, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “In my first year, on my first sack, I smacked the quarterback. I knocked him back a few yards. When I got back to the sideline, my defensive coordinator (Mike Adams) called me Gravedigger. It was pretty dope to me. It stuck.”

Hargrave certainly did his fair share of “burying” at the FCS level as not only did he record 37 sacks during his four years at South Carolina State, he also registered an amazing 63 tackles for loss during that same span.

After the Steelers selected Hargrave in the third-round of last weekend’s 2016 NFL Draft, defensive line coach John Mitchell spoke highly of the 6-1, 309-pound defensive tackle in addition to talking about how he went about scouting him during the pre-draft process.

“I’ll tell you how we came about this guy,” started Mitchell. “I was watching tape. I watched him. We went to the Combine. He had a good workout at the Combine. I came back and told Mike Tomlin, I would like to go to South Carolina State to work this guy out myself and sit down and visit with him. He had a great workout on campus. I liked what I heard from him. I talked to the people at South Carolina State. He is a high quality man.”

Mitchell went on to say that he thinks Hargrave can become a three-down player in the Steelers defense which means he should be able to help in the team’s sub packages which in turn will help lessen the amount of snaps that starting defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt have to play in a game.

“This guy is a first-, second- and third-down player,” said Mitchell of Hargrave. “Where we put him, he can help us with the things that we do. When we put him in our base defense, when we put him in the three technique, we can control that. He’s not going to be over the big 6-8 tackle. He’s going to be over the 6-4, 6-5 guard. The speed that he has and the quickness he has getting off the ball, he’s going to be a big addition for us.”

As far as his nickname being able to stick with the Steelers goes, Hargrave will certainly have to earn that from his new teammates and while he’s a different kind of player than former nose tackle Casey Hampton was during his long career in Pittsburgh, he can be just as effective as “Big Snack” was in addition to being able more productive on the stat sheet.

If you’re like me, you look forward to watching “The Gravedigger” bury quite a few quarterbacks and running backs over the course of what we and the Steelers hope is a very long career in Pittsburgh.

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