Trent Steelman traveled an unconventional, twisting path to the Ravens' practice field Saturday after the former Army standout quarterback was signed to a contract years after he first tried out for the AFC North franchise.
Steelman auditioned for the Ravens at a rookie minicamp two years ago and was offered a contract, but couldn't join the team because of his military service commitment.
Now, the 25-year-old Kentucky native is finally in the NFL after a successful tryout this week. A dual-threat quarterback at West Point where he was a four-year starter who rushed for a school-record 45 touchdowns while orchestrating an option-oriented offense, Steelman is playing wide receiver for the Ravens.
"Absolutely, it's been a humbling couple of days that's for sure," Steelman said. "I thank Baltimore for giving me that second chance and believing in me as a player. Right now, I'm just trying to get my feet wet and get out here and do what I can as a player."
Steelman was the starting quarterback for Army and set a record with 46 games and 32 consecutive starts, rushing for 3,320 yards. He set the single-season school record with 17 rushing touchdowns.
Steelman was invited to the East-West Shrine All-Star game after his final season of eligibility for Army, but quickly came to the realization that the NFL isn't looking to employ 5-foot-11, 200-pound option quarterbacks.
He has been training to be a slot wide receiver ever since graduation. Steelman played wide receiver for Team USA this year and was named the Most Valuable Player of the International Federation of American Football world tournament in Canton, Ohio.
He caught 18 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown. Besides the Ravens, the New England Patriots worked out Steelman this year.
"I haven't played a lot of wide receiver, but I just got done playing wide receiver for Team USA and I've learned a lot," said Steelman, who joined the team as the Ravens cut former Edmondson quarterback Jerry Lovelocke. "I've been working hard to learn as much as possible."
Steelman served in the Army at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., before military officials told him he was free to pursue the NFL. He's now serving on reserve duty.