Feb. 11, 2014
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Colorado State Hall of Fame member and former all-pro NFL linebacker Joey Porter has been hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a defensive assistant coach, the NFL club announced Tuesday. Porter joins the Steelers’ coaching staff after receiving his first coaching experience with the Rams during the 2013 season, serving as an undergraduate student assistant while taking classes to complete his undergraduate degree.
“I’m fortunate to come back and work for an organization that drafted me out of college,” Porter said Tuesday morning. “It’s a place I couldn’t be happier to be. There are two places I wanted to coach, CSU and Pittsburgh, and in two years I’ve been able to accomplish both. I’m truly blessed. CSU did everything for me to give me an opportunity to be where I am.”
Porter was appreciative of the seven months he spent with the Colorado State football program, assisting head coach Jim McElwain’s staff, and in the community where he attended college in the late 1990s.
“I thank Coach Mac and Jack Graham for giving me the chance to come back to Fort Collins and help the football team, work on my degree and have an opportunity to get to this point,” Porter said. “If Coach Mac hadn’t given me that opportunity I really don’t think I’m here in this situation as quickly as I am. I appreciate everything that he did for me in Fort Collins, for myself and for my family. I’ll always have ties to CSU. Jack Graham and Coach Mac know they can call me for anything, and anything I can give back to my school I will I appreciate that opportunity.”
McElwain, who has frequently expressed his philosophy of reaching into Colorado State’s great past to build its future, appreciates what Porter brought to the Rams in 2013, and has brought to the program for many years.
"I'm very happy for Joey to have this opportunity,” McElwain said. “I can't say enough about the job he did with our team last season, and the way he poured his knowledge, experience and passion into our players. He is a true Ram who proudly carries Colorado State with him wherever he goes. We wish him well in his new job with the Pittsburgh Steelers and thank him for what he brought to our program, that will stay with us as we go forward."
Porter’s tutelage, assisting the defensive coaches with the team’s outside pass rushers, produced significant results for the 2013 Rams, who posted their best record since 2002, at 8-6, and earned a victory in the New Mexico Bowl over Washington State. Senior outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett posted 12.0 sacks and set a Mountain West record with 20.5 tackles for loss en route to winning MW Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“The program is definitely headed in the right direction, just in the two years that Mac has been there. He’s definitely got the program turned around. After four wins his first year, coming back this year and winning eight games and a bowl game, the program is definitely in good hands. Mac is going to take the school back to places that Sonny Lubick did. They’re going to start getting the players. With Jack Graham getting that stadium built, the program is on the rise again, and I’m going to sit back and enjoy watching my school be on top again.”
Porter’s time back in Fort Collins also included his induction into the CSU Athletics Hall of Fame in November 2013, but his greatest joy came from coaching at his alma mater.
“That is exactly why I got into coaching, being hands-on with the outside ‘backers—Shaq (Barrett), Cory (James), Steve-O (Michel), Danny (Nwosu), Bryan (Ohene)—all the guys I worked with, just having an effect on their lives and helping them get better is why you coach,” Porter explained. “Just the little things were the biggest enjoyment I got out of it. In addition to the team success and the bowl game, honestly the moments I had to work with Shaq and watching him play, that goes a long way for me. I know it was a short time I was there, but I think I got more out of it than they did. What they did for me solidified for me that it was the right choice to get into coaching.”
Porter, who won a Super Bowl as a player with the Steelers in 2005, returns to the NFL team that made him a third-round draft choice out of Colorado State in 1999, No. 73 overall. Porter played 13 years in the NFL with Pittsburgh, Miami (2007-09) and Arizona (2010-11), started 171 of 188 career games and registering 98 sacks, 721 tackles (552 solo), 25 forced fumbles, 12 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries, three touchdowns and one safety. His 60 sacks as a Steeler rank fifth in franchise history.
Porter was named to the Pro Bowl four times and also earned four AP All-Pro honors, including first-team in 2002 and second team in 2004, ’05 and ’08. His Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL to cap a memorable 2005 season.
“We are excited about having Joey back with the Steelers’ family,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin said in a press release issued by the team. “Joey spent a number of years with Pittsburgh as a player, and now he’s back to assist the coaching staff. We look forward to his efforts and contributions.”
The presence of Joey Porter with the CSU football program has been strong even in his years away from Fort Collins. In April 2005 the former CSU star donated $200,000 to renovate the Rams' football locker room inside the Moby Arena complex.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native helped lead his Colorado State teams to some of the greatest seasons in school history. Still fifth on CSU's all-time sacks list, Porter finished his career with 20. He tallied 14 of those 20 in 1998, the second-best single-season total in school history. Porter notched three sacks in a game against UNLV, as the Rams finished with an 8-4 record and their fifth consecutive winning season.
The product of Foothills High School in Bakersfield, Calif., capped the 1998 season with first-team all-WAC honors. Porter went on to play in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl all-star game in 1998 at the conclusion of his CSU career.
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