Greenwood signs deal with Steelers

2011-07-26T10:11:00Z 2011-07-27T10:34:59Z Greenwood signs deal with SteelersCraig DeVrieze The Quad-City Times
July 26, 2011 10:11 am  • 

Brett Greenwood is trading his black and gold uniform for ... a black and gold uniform.

An Iowa Hawkeyes two-time All-Big Ten second-team free safety by way of Pleasant Valley High School, Greenwood signed a free-agent deal with the storied Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday morning.

He flew to Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon and will join the defending AFC champion Steelers when they open training camp Thursday morning in Latrobe, Pa.

Greenwood said the team contacted his agent, Jack Bechta, quickly following the end of the five-month NFL lockout Monday.

"I tried to find the right fit with the right team and they seemed very interested in me," said Greenwood, a four-year Iowa starter after walking on in Iowa City. "It's a great organization to go to. They have always had a great defense."

The Steelers defense includes veteran safeties Troy Polamalu, a five-time Pro Bowler, and Ryan Clark, a 10th-year pro who Greenwood will attempt to win a spot behind.

"You can't go wrong learning from safeties like Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu," he said. "It will be a great opportunity."

Greenwood, whose 12 career interceptions rank sixth in the Iowa record book, was one of 11 undrafted rookies the Steelers signed Tuesday morning as the first order of post-lockout business.

He said it was "a unique year" to be a first-year NFL hopeful, but said he continued to work out hard through the summer with Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle and a corps of 12 Hawkeyes rookies and pro football veterans.

"I sort of felt I'd get an opportunity somewhere," he said. "You had to wait around longer and just be patient. The flipside is it gave me more opportunity to train and improve on things I wanted to improve on."

Because of the lack of an NFL offseason, Greenwood will have to impress the Steelers in a hurry, but, having earned his way onto the field as a preferred walk-on at Iowa , the former Spartans star has a history of overcoming challenges.

"There will be plenty of opportunity to learn," he said. "It's a tough challenge. Hopefully, I'll go in there, prove what I can do, catch the eye of a few coaches and win a job on special teams."

Other Hawkeyes landing free-agent shots on Tuesday included linebackers Jeff Tarpinian (New England) and Jeremiha Hunter (New Orleans), punter Ryan Donahue (Detroit), receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (Philadelphia) and tight end Alan Reisner (Minnesota).

Undrafted Illinois free-agent signees were receiver Jarrod Fayson (New Orleans), cornerback Travon Bellamy, offensive lineman Randall Hunt (St. Louis), quarterback/wide receiver Eddie McGee (Oakland) and defensive end Clay Nurse (New England).

From Iowa State, tight end Collin Franklin (Oakland), center Ben Lamaak (New York Jets) and defensive back David Sims (New York Giants) were signed.

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