Alex Highsmith

American football player (born 1997)
American football player
Alex Highsmith
refer to caption
Highsmith with the Steelers in 2021
No. 56 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1997-08-07) August 7, 1997 (age 26)
Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S.
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:242 lb (110 kg)
Career information
High school:Eugene Ashley
(Wilmington, North Carolina)
College:Charlotte (2016–2019)
NFL draft:2020 / Round: 3 / Pick: 102
Career history
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (2020–present)
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2023
Total tackles:242
Sacks:29.5
Forced fumbles:8
Pass deflections:5
Interceptions:3
Defensive touchdowns:1
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Alex Highsmith (born August 7, 1997) is an American football linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Charlotte.

Early years

Highsmith grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina and attended Eugene Ashley High School, where he played baseball, basketball and football.[1] He played middle linebacker and fullback and was named second-team All-Area and first-team All-Mideastern Conference as a senior. He was also named All-Area in baseball. Highsmith was lightly recruited by college programs and only received interest from Davidson and Furman before being offered a spot on UNC Charlotte's team as a walk on.[2]

College career

Highsmith joined the Charlotte 49ers as a walk-on and redshirted his true freshman season.[3] As a redshirt freshman, he played in all 12 of the 49ers games and finished the season with 17 tackles and a sack. Highsmith was a key member of Charlotte's defensive line rotation during his redshirt sophomore season and finished the year with 33 tackles with 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and one fumble recovery.[4] He was named a starter at defensive end as a redshirt junior and was named first-team All-Conference USA after setting a school record with 17.5 tackles for loss along with 60 total tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.[5][6][7] He was again named first-team All-Conference USA and was also a third-team All-American selection by the Associated Press as a senior after setting new school records with 14 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.[8][9][10]

College statistics

Year Team GP Defense
Tackles TFL Sacks FF
2016 Charlotte 12 17 2.0 1.0 0
2017 Charlotte 11 33 5.0 2.0 0
2018 Charlotte 12 60 18.5 3.0 2
2019 Charlotte 13 75 21.5 15.0 2
Career 45 185 47.0 21.0 4

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Wonderlic
6 ft 3+18 in
(1.91 m)
248 lb
(112 kg)
33+18 in
(0.84 m)
9+18 in
(0.23 m)
4.70 s 1.68 s 2.75 s 4.31 s 7.32 s 33.0 in
(0.84 m)
10 ft 5 in
(3.18 m)
26
All values from NFL Combine[11][12]

2020

Highsmith was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round, 102nd overall, of the 2020 NFL Draft.[13]

In week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens, Highsmith recorded his first career interception off a pass thrown by Lamar Jackson during the 28–24 win.[14] In week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys, Highsmith recorded his first career sack on Garrett Gilbert during the 24–19 win. [15] In week 13 against the Washington Football Team, Highsmith made his starting debut. In it, he recorded five tackles in the Steelers first loss of the season. Highsmith finished the remaining four games as the Steelers' starter, recording 23 more tackles as well as one sack that he recorded during their season finale against the Cleveland Browns.[16][17]

2021

In week 17, against the Browns, Highsmith had two sacks in the 26–14 victory.[18] In the 2021 season, he had six sacks, 74 total tackles (46 solo), and one forced fumble in 16 games and starts.[19]

2022

In the regular season opener, Highsmith had three sacks and a forced fumble in the 23–20 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.[20] In week 10, Highsmith had five tackles, two sacks, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble in a 20–10 win over the New Orleans Saints, earning American Football Conference (AFC) Defensive Player of the Week.[21] He closed out the 2022 regular season with 2.5 sacks in a 28–14 win over the Browns.[22]

He finished the 2022 season with 63 tackles, a team high 14.5 sacks, and league-leading five forced fumbles.[23][24][25]

2023

On July 19, 2023, Highsmith signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension with the Steelers. The contract includes $27.74 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $16 million.[26] During week 2 of the 2023 season against the Browns, Highsmith intercepted the first pass from Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and returned it 30 yards for his first NFL touchdown. He also recorded seven tackles and a forced fumble on Watson, which was recovered by Steelers teammate T. J. Watt for what eventually became the game-winning touchdown as the Steelers held on to win, 26–22. For his performance, Highsmith was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.[27]

NFL career statistics

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high
Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Total Solo Ast Sack TFL QBHits Int Yards Avg TD PD FF FR Yds TD
2020 PIT 16 5 48 30 18 2.0 5 6 1 2 2.0 0 1 0 0 0 0
2021 PIT 16 16 74 46 28 6.0 15 15 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 0 0 0
2022 PIT 17 17 63 38 25 14.5 12 20 0 0 0.0 0 1 5 0 0 0
2023 PIT 17 17 57 34 23 7.0 8 18 2 30 15.0 1 3 2 0 0 0
Career 66 55 242 148 94 29.5 40 59 3 32 10.7 1 5 8 0 0 0

Personal life

Highsmith is a Christian.[28] Highsmith is married to Alyssa Ungrady.[29]

References

  1. ^ Barth, Tanner (April 24, 2020). "Pittsburgh Steelers draft Ashley High School standout Alex Highsmith 102nd overall". WWAY TV. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  2. ^ DiCecco, Andrew (February 26, 2020). "Charlotte edge rusher Alex Highsmith still proving people wrong". ProFootballNetwork.com. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Fuller, Jackson (December 5, 2016). "Highsmith keeps making strides at Charlotte". Star-News. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  4. ^ Scott, David (August 13, 2019). "Alex Highsmith walked on to the Charlotte 49ers. Now he's a star. Is the NFL next?". The News & Observer. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  5. ^ "Former Ashley football standout goes from walk on to starter for the Charlotte 49ers". WECT.com. December 17, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  6. ^ Mahoney, Ashley (August 3, 2019). "Charlotte DE Alex Highsmith thinking big for senior campaign". The Charlotte Post. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  7. ^ Brugler, Dane (September 25, 2019). "Meet the Prospect: Pass rusher Alex Highsmith continues to make Charlotte a must stop for NFL scouts". The Athletic. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  8. ^ Lamorandier, Logan (January 27, 2020). "Late-Round Sleeper Who Can Bolster Lions' Defensive Line". SI.com. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  9. ^ "Charlotte 49ers Defensive End Highsmith Becomes First All-American In Program History With Third Team Selection". WCCBCharlotte.com. Associated Press. December 16, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  10. ^ Barth, Tanner (December 12, 2019). "ALEX HIGHSMITH NAMED TO CONFERENCE USA FIRST-TEAM". WWAYTV3.com. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  11. ^ "Alex Highsmith Draft and Combine Prospect Profile". NFL.com. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  12. ^ "2020 NFL Draft Scout Alex Highsmith College Football Profile". DraftScout.com. Retrieved January 2, 2024.
  13. ^ Varley, Teresa (April 25, 2020). "Steelers select Highsmith in the third round". Steelers.com. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  14. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens - November 1st, 2020". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  15. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys - November 8th, 2020". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  16. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns - January 3rd, 2021". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  17. ^ "Alex Highsmith 2020 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  18. ^ "Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers - January 3rd, 2022". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  19. ^ "Alex Highsmith 2021 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  20. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals - September 11th, 2022". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  21. ^ Gordon, Grant (November 16, 2022). "Vikings WR Justin Jefferson, Colts RB Jonathan Taylor lead Players of the Week". NFL.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  22. ^ "Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers - January 8th, 2023". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  23. ^ "Alex Highsmith 2022 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  24. ^ "2022 Pittsburgh Steelers Rosters, Stats, Schedule, Team Draftees, Injury Reports". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  25. ^ "2022 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  26. ^ Baca, Michael (July 19, 2023). "Alex Highsmith, Steelers agree to terms on four-year, $68 million extension". NFL.com. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  27. ^ Alper, Josh (September 20, 2023). "Alex Highsmith named the AFC defensive player of the week". NBCSports.com. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  28. ^ "Walk-On Charlotte LB Selected In The 3rd Round of NFL Draft – Credits His Christian Faith". Charlotte Stories. April 25, 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  29. ^ Mercer, Kevin (September 28, 2022). "Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith leads NFL in sacks with 'foundation in Christ'". Sports Spectrum. Retrieved September 29, 2022.

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