Rich Seubert, after a 10-year NFL career as an offensive lineman for the New York Giants, has a pretty good eye when it comes to identifying players who can rush the passer. Seubert thinks the Giants have found themselves one in Tuzar Skipper, whom the Giants were awarded earlier this week via waiver claim from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Seubert, now coaching high school football in New Jersey, also works at TEST Football Academy in New Jersey helping to train offensive linemen as they prepare for the NFL Combine. In that capacity, he saw Skipper, who went undrafted after playing three seasons at Toledo, work against his offensive linemen several days a week.
“I know that I can judge pretty good talent. The guy is a specimen. Just look at the guy … he’s chiseled and he can move. He was a physical freak,” Seubert said of Skipper, who checks in at 6-foot-3, 246 pounds.
“I knew he had a bunch of raw talent. That’s probably why he went undrafted. I think if you harness that energy in the right way he could help out the Giants quite a bit right now.”
The Giants, of course, are looking for pass rush help anyplace they can find it.
Skipper had 8.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and a pair of forced fumbles last season for Toledo, which plays in the MAC. He went undrafted, but hooked on with the Pittsburgh Steelers after a rookie mini-camp tryout and had a stellar preseason with 5 sacks, 16 tackles, 7 quarterback hits and 2 forced fumbles.
That success came as no surprise to Seubert.
“He’s a freak. He went hard [at TEST] and he honed in on his skills,” Seubert said.
“He improved from the day he walked in that door until the day he left.
“He’s a kid that had good times and he looks awesome, but he knows how to use his body the right way and he knows how to get off that football. He’s instinctively there. He goes hard.”
Seubert, taking a break from his duties as football coach at Watchung Hills Regional High School in New Jersey, kept coming back to Skipper’s work ethic during our phone conversation.
“He trained hard. I’ve seen enough kids that came in and they don’t train as hard as he did and you’re just like ‘that kid’s not gonna make it.’ I’ve been in that locker room, I’ve been in practice, I know what it takes,” he said.
“That’s the part that I can see. You see his work ethic. His work ethic’s gonna get him there.”
Skipper, 24, is a young man who had a difficult upbringing. He was taken from his parents home at the age of 3 and spent most of his childhood and teen-age years in and out of foster and group homes. His biological parents are now both deceased.
Seubert paid Skipper what a young player should consider a high compliment.
“He just had a great attitude every day. To me that goes a long way,” Seubert said. “He could have played in the locker room that I played in back in the day, where we worked hard, but we also busted balls and we got our work done but we enjoyed every aspect of it.
“I truly believe he enjoys playing football.”
Seubert became a starter and Super Bowl champion with the Giants after going undrafted out of Western Illinois.
“I’m happy with my path,” Seubert said. “He will someday hopefully look back on it and be happy with his path as well. It doesn’t matter how you get there, it matters what you do once you get there.”
Seubert’s advice to Skipper? Don’t worry about the draft.
“Don’t worry about being drafted or being undrafted … a free agent just has to work a little bit harder than the rest of them to make a point,” Seubert said.
“I knew that if he had an opportunity he would find a way onto a roster. I really did.”
Skipper did made the Steelers’ initial 53-man roster, but was waived when Pittsburgh had a roster need at another position.
When Seubert saw how well Skipper played in Pittsburgh he knew the young man would get a chance somewhere.
“There’s a demand for getting after the quarterback in this league,” Seubert said. “I knew he’d be fine, he would find a home. He would have a chance to prove himself.”
The Giants, badly in need of players who can pressure opposing quarterbacks, hope he makes the most of it.