WACO, Texas — Baylor defensive end James Lockhart will continue to chase his dream as an un-drafted free agent with his favorite team, growing up, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Lockhart a native of Ennis always admired the way the Steelers played defense and modeled his game after one of the best linebackers to ever wear black and gold, James Harrison.
“Coming out of high school — obviously I’m not that [James Harrison] but coming out of high school, I was getting kind of compared to James Harrison a little bit,” he said. “Because my height and my stature and I think we played similar, at the time so I really would just study him.”
While he’s excited to be with the Steelers he knows there is a lot of work to be done to try and crack the roster.
“We celebrated it [Signing] with a small group of family and friends — 10 or under — here at my mother’s house in Ennis,” he said. “Then after that, the minute Sunday came it was straight back to business. I’ve really been getting after it this past week, I’ll tell you that.”
With Covid-19 keeping team facilities closed it’s more difficult for rookies to get their work in, so they are forced to stay in shape on their own. Lockhart doing just that to be ready when it’s time to roll.
“I’m just trying to be in the best shape possible because at the end of the day the NFL is a business, he said. “Whenever, everything is back to normal and the coaches — I know how they think — they’re gonna expect guys to be in shape, especially at this level, and I’m going to have to be in the best shape of my life.”
When that call does come and teams begin working out together, no matter where the Steelers ask James to play, he feels prepared by his time with the coaching staff at Baylor.
“We had so many different defenses and packages and blitzes,” he said. “I think the coaches they did a good job of preparing us.”
Lockhart knows it will be an uphill climb, but he is ready and excited to make the most of this opportunity for himself and his teammates but also those Ennis Lions back in his home town.
“It’s an honor just to have a chance,” he said. “Coming from a small town, I have a chance to play, not only for my teammates but also show young kids here in the Ennis community that can say, ‘Hey here’s a guy who just worked hard and he ultimately made it at the highest level.”
Lockhart finished his Baylor career with 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks, with six of those coming in a breakout campaign in 2019.