David Upchurch, WVU/Steelers Defensive Lineman, 2003

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First, can you let readers know what you’ve been doing since you’ve retired from the NFL and how you got started in these new ventures?

I am currently an Engineer for the federal government and I also have a foundation based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Full Focus Foundation, Inc. . The foundation targets youth both male and female ages 12-18 and seeks to develop them holistically. The intent of Full Focus is to equip these young men and women with the passion of being an “other-centered” service based leader in their community while pursuing their own personal life goals.

I always loved math and majored in Engineering at WVU, as well has always had a passion to help develop youth.

How hard was it for you to adjust to life post professional football, and how did your time in the NFL help?

I credit my mom and my coaches for always establishing values in me that surpassed my love for football so my transition after football was not as hard. I had a great education and vision to continue my purpose here on earth. My time in the NFL was a platform in which now I can use to further my purpose. I met and learned from a lot of individuals about life.

You signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2003. Why did you choose Pittsburgh – especially when they had Hampton, Aaron Smith, Kimo and others there?

At the time, the Steelers did not draft any lineman that year so I felt it was my best fit to succeed. They also ran a system I was familiar with and felt it would have been the best opportunity to make team. They also have a A1 organization who knows how to treat their players.

How much pressure was there for you as a “local”, having played at WVU?

It was a little pressure being so close to where I played college but I had a lot of people routing for me. I remember my college coaches coming up to camp and showing me some support.

What are your thoughts on WVU’s program now?

I am really excited about what Coach Holgerson is doing at WVU. The program is one of the best in the nation and I am excited about the direction in which it is going.

What was your biggest adjustment to life in the NFL, and what did you learn from those guys that helped you make that adjustment?

The biggest adjustment would be missing the game and obviously the relationships in which you had with your teammates. I learned how to be a professional from my teammates and I also learned how to work hard for what you want. Being a free agent. you know you are really fighting an uphill battle but I had great support form veteran teammates to help me keep fighting.

Who helped you most to adjust to life in the NFL -and as a Steeler – and how did they do so? How did it differ from the AFL?

I had a lot of help from my defensive line teammates Clancy, Kemo, Aaron, and Casey, as well as Joey and Foote. They help me get accumulated and made me feel like I belonged and could play on that level. Clancy really took me under his wing and helped me learn a lot about football and life. The AFL was also great and had great relationships with my teammates. The style of game was different but the people was the same. We were all football players trying to play a game we love and take care of our families and along the way made great friendships and bonds.

 2003 was a tough season for the team, but 2004 saw them bounce back and get to the AFC Championship game. What happened to help the team bounce back and have such a good season, and how difficult was that final game loss for the team?

2003 was a tough year and we had a lot of injuries and transitions but that off season and camp you seen a bunch of guys really galvanize together which made the season a success.

How much did humor play a part on that Steelers team, and how so? Can you give a couple of examples of some funny things that occurred, on or off the field?

The locker room was a great place. We had a lot of funny people including myself that kept the atmosphere light. Randle-EL was hilarious along with Chad Scott. I remember conditioning tests and watching people just fall out like they were hit by a sniper.

What are your thoughts on the way the game has changed since you played? Would you rather play under these new rules – why/why not?

The game has definitely changed. They have taken away some of the physicality in which the game was known for. I definitely understand because of players safety but at times it can be hard to watch some of the calls. Players are bigger and faster so the rules have to change to protect players but I would rather play under old rules.

Any last thoughts for readers?

I would like to thank the loyal Steeler fans for their support and continue to support the team and the game!

Read more by former Steelers via the book Steelers Takeaways: Player Memories Through the Decades To order, just click on the book:

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