Med school can wait while new CB Ahkello Witherspoon pursues Doctor of Steelers defense apprenticeship


New Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon recently received his undergraduate degree in ecological and evolutionary biology from Colorado, and he wants to be a doctor.

These plans, however, are on the back burner. He has more immediate problems as a football player.

“I am suspending my degree until it is time to pursue medical studies,” Witherspoon, 26, said Monday, “which will happen when my time here or other businesses is over, and I will take a shot at this. ”

Witherspoon’s current goal is to try and help defend the Steelers. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, he’s lean and long in the outside corner who could compete for a starting role if the Steelers think Cam Sutton is better suited to the slots corner.

On Monday, Witherspoon trained for the first time with his new team, ending a vacation weekend in which he learned his trade from Seattle on Friday, took a cross-country flight on Saturday and undergone his physique on Sunday. .

Witherspoon still has six days to better understand the Steelers’ defense before playing against the Buffalo Bills in Game 1 of the season.

“The way we talk about it is simple to keep my brain free because a busy brain is going to slow you down on the pitch,” Witherspoon said. “I just take it day to day. I am very good at withholding information. Once I’m more comfortable we’ll add more.

Witherspoon said he was a good candidate for the Steelers’ defense because of his ability to play against men.

“It’s important for my game,” he said. “Change it up and give the quarters different looks so we’re not so predictable. ”

Second-year wide receiver Chase Claypool had the chance to test the new cornerback in practice on Monday.

“It was just a few reps,” said Claypool, who also provided advice on finding apartments, “but he did a good job. Having size and speed he is really good.

The Steelers gave up a fifth-round draft in 2023 to acquire Witherspoon, who signed a one-year, $ 4 million contract with the Seahawks in March after spending four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. A former third-round draft pick, Witherspoon made 33 starts for San Francisco. He had four interceptions on 24 defended passes.

Witherspoon was signed by Seattle with hopes he would start at the cornerback. When he failed to find a job during the preseason, he was sent to the Steelers, who were looking to upgrade their high school.

Witherspoon has resisted calling his brief tenure in Seattle and his hasty departure like a whirlwind.

“It’s the illusion of a whirlwind,” he said. “The work that I do and the type of grace and gratitude that I have for life and this game, this type of storytelling doesn’t quite match my truest story, so I’m going with the flow. I’m here now where someone wants me to compete and help them win a championship, and that’s what I plan to do.

Witherspoon said he has always maintained this philosophy.

“You go through so much, it gets easier,” he said. “I’m about to be pushed to the ground and I have to get up. It’s getting easier and easier. The first was the hardest. I’m immersed in this process of overcoming obstacles, so it’s like, “Come on, let’s go.” ”

It is only when the obstacle is too great to overcome in the NFL that Witherspoon will turn to a career in medicine. He doesn’t know what school he wants to attend or what he wants to study, although sports medicine is a possibility.

“I have always been fascinated by education and the challenge of everything in life,” he said. “The cornerback is my favorite now. When I’m done with this, I’ll move on to another.

Joe Rutter is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Joe by email at or via Twitter .

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