JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Apr. 26, 2004) â€" East Tennessee State All-America defensive lineman Brandon Calton (Pennington Gap, Va.) agreed Monday to a free-agent contract with the National Football Leagueâ€™s Pittsburgh Steelers.
Calton posted career highs in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks this past season for ETSU. He finished fourth on the Bucs with 75 tackles and was second on the team with 15.5 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks. Calton tied for fourth in the Southern Conference in TFLâ€™s and tied for sixth in the SoCon in sacks. He also had two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked extra point on the season. Calton had a season-high 10 tackles on Nov. 1 against Georgia Southern and had nine in the season-opener at Eastern Michigan on Aug. 28. Following the season, Calton earned All-Southern Conference honors for a second time and All-America honors from Don Hansenâ€™s Football Gazette.
Calton also participated in the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic and the Las Vegas All-American Classic in the off-season.
â€śIt has always been my dream to play at the next level,â€ť said Calton Monday afternoon. â€śI would like to thank my friends, family and the man upstairs for helping me reach my goal. I would like to give special thanks to my coaching staff, especially strength and conditioning coach Lee Morrow for finding the time to work with me one-on-one throughout the whole process. With everything he does at the university, he has worked very hard to train me over the last couple of months."
Calton will report to Pittsburgh later this week and participate in a three-day mini-camp for all players May 7-9.
â€śEver since I was a kid, I have liked the Steelers,â€ť said Calton. â€śThey have a great history and I love their defensive schemes. They run a 3-4 defense like I have played for the last four seasons here at ETSU. Hopefully that will help me out coming in as a free agent.â€ť
Pittsburgh plays their first pre-season game at Detroit on Aug. 14 and opens the regular season at home against Oakland on Sept. 12.