Isaiahh Loudermilk

Wisconsin defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk pressures Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell during the second quarter of Badgers' 45-24 win over the Boilermakers Nov. 23, 2019, at Camp Randall Stadium. 

TownNews.com Content Exchange

A collection of the most interesting quotes and thoughts from Badgers players and coaches during spring practices.

Isaiahh Loudermilk had a plan for how he wanted his NFL draft moment to happen.

He’d have his family and a few friends gathered at Poplar Pizza in his hometown of Howard, Kansas. He’d get his call, learn his new football home and the party would start.

The former University of Wisconsin defensive end didn’t get that Hallmark moment, but the reason it fell through actually was positive. Loudermilk and his group were planning to get together at the restaurant around 3 p.m. Saturday, lining up it with the latter portion of the sixth round, which is where he was projected for much of the pre-draft process.

Isaiahh Loudermilk mug 5-2

Loudermilk

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called just before 1:30 p.m. to inform Loudermilk the Steelers had traded up in the fifth round.

“I wasn't really expecting to get a call that early, so we were all spread out. My mom was outside working on a car. I was sitting down watching TV, but everyone was kind of spread out,” Loudermilk said, laughing as he recounted the story.

“I don’t even think anything was going through my mind, I just picked (the phone) up. I figured it was the call, but I wasn't 100% sure just because it was so early. Picked it up, it was coach Tomlin on the line, so I knew that they were about to pick me. I was pretty much in awe. Just shocked that it came so fast. Because it's been such a dream of mine, for it to kind of sneak up on me like that, it was awesome.”

Pittsburgh sent the Miami Dolphins a fourth-round pick in 2022 for the 156th pick this year to take Loudermilk.

Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar said it was Loudermilk’s versatility that ultimately made him the team’s pick.

"He is a defensive lineman,” Dunbar told Steelers.com. "When I say defensive lineman, he is going to play everything from a five-technique to a zero-nose.

"He fits the mold for what we want to do here in Pittsburgh. He is a strapping young man. To get a kid with this kind of size and height in the fifth round is a really great gift for the Steelers.”

Moving along the line isn’t new for the 6-foot-7 Loudermilk. He finished with 63 total tackles, 11½ for loss and 7½ sacks in his 40 college games. He also had nine passes defended and two forced fumbles. He was able to amass those statistics while playing in a number of spots, and he rarely came off the field over the past two seasons.

The schemes run in Pittsburgh are very similar to the ones defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has installed at UW, Loudermilk said.

“I feel like they felt extremely comfortable with me,” Loudermilk said about the Steelers. “Having that versatility and you know, really knowing that scheme extremely well, I think gave them confidence in me. I’m extremely happy with what happened. It's a perfect scheme fit for me, so I'm ready to get into it.”

Loudermilk is set to report to Pittsburgh on May 13, so he plans to continue training and spending time with family over the next week-plus before starting his pro career.

After the pizza celebration, Loudermilk and his family returned home and watched a movie. He wasn’t sure what it would feel like to achieve his goal of an NFL opportunity, or to be drafted by a franchise with a history of success like Pittsburgh. In fact, he’s still waiting for his "I made it" feeling.

“I've been waiting for that moment — I don't think it's hit yet. I'm still excited,” Loudermilk said. “It all still feels kind of the same as it was before I was a draft pick. I’m still doing the same stuff, just a Steeler now.”


 

This article originally ran on madison.com.