CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Alex Highsmith knows how difficult it can be to prove your worth on the football field.
The Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker spent his college career with the Charlotte 49ers, grinding it out to become a third-round draft pick. But he was far from a guarantee after starting his collegiate career as a walk-on.
That's why Highsmith, who just happened to be in town with the Steelers for their preseason game against the Panthers, stopped by 49ers practice Friday morning. He and Coach Will Healy had a special announcement for one of their players.
Offensive lineman Dejan Rasuo, a redshirt junior, was the first man off the bench for the 49ers' offensive line. Described by the team as a Swiss Army knife, Rasuo has the skills necessary to cut it at the FBS level.
But there's one thing he didn't have: A scholarship. During practice Friday, Rasuo was called to talk to his team about the sacrifices he'd made as a walk-on and what it took to persevere.
"I am beyond excited to announce, that you, Dejan, are on full scholarship!" Highsmith said as the team erupted into cheers for Rasuo.
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