Penn State's A.Q. Shipley had a frustrating afternoon waiting to hear his name called.
Then the phone rang. It was the Pittsburgh Steelers, his hometown team, and suddenly Shipley's disappointment turned into elation.
"I couldn't be happier," the former Nittany Lion standout told the Mirror. "This is a dream come true, obviously, growing up a Steelers fan."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
A.Q. Shipley, a Coraopolis native, won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center for Penn State in 2008.
Shipley, an All-American center for the Lions in 2008, had hoped to be selected in the middle rounds of the NFL draft. He slipped all the way to seventh and final round, but he ended up in what he calls "as good of an opportunity as I could walk into."
Center was a need for the Steelers - veteran Justin Hartwig was the only experienced player at the position last season - and Shipley's name had been mentioned as a possibility in pre-draft speculation. He was the 17th pick of the seventh round and 226th overall.
"I obviously thought I was going to go higher," Shipley said. "I was waiting around all day for the call, and when I finally get the call and it's the Pittsburgh Steelers, I was like a little kid in a candy store."
Shipley is from Coraopolis, just outside of Pittsburgh, and attended Moon Area High School. He stayed close to home for college in Happy Valley and will be even closer to home playing on Sundays at Heinz Field.
"From my dad in the '70s all the way until now, my family has been as big of Steelers fans as there is," Shipley said.
Shipley waited longer than expected to be drafted, while Penn State receiver Deon Butler went much earlier than many people projected.
Butler, the Lions' career receptions leader, was selected in the third round by the Seattle Seahawks.
"That's a great fit," Butler said. "I'm a wide receiver, and any time a team throws the ball like [they do], you like that."
Butler's draft stock soared after he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had Butler rated higher on his draft board than Penn State teammate Derrick Williams, who also went in the third round to the Detroit Lions.
"I felt comfortable that it was going to be the third or fourth round, but there was cautious optimism because you never know how it plays out," Butler said.
"I felt real good when there was a little run on receivers in the third round early on."
Williams was selected with the 18th pick of the third round, and Butler was taken nine spots later at 27th.
"Seattle wanted me to fit their system, and I think it's a great system for me," Butler said. "I'm real excited and just ready to go out there and make some plays."
Butler got a call from Seahawks coach Jim Mora two minutes before he was selected.
"Coach Mora said, 'You ready to be a Seahawk?' and I was ready," Butler said.
Williams had hoped to go in the second round but instead wound up with a Lions team that went 0-16 last season.
Penn State guard Rich Ohrnberger went much higher than most expected as he was selected by the New England Patriots with the 23rd pick of the fourth round.
Another surprise was that PSU left tackle Gerald Cadogan, projected as high as a third-round pick by some, did not get drafted.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.