Can Beanie Bishop be an impact player for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season?

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Former WVU cornerback Beanie Bishop is no stranger to adversity. After a three-year stint at Group of Five program Western Kentucky landed him an opportunity at Minnesota, he was only able to parlay it into a role player position that saw him play a decent chunk of snaps without much in the way of an impressive statline or national attention. With one year remaining, he decided to reset one more time in Morgantown, and became an All-American.

He’s no stranger to adapting quickly to a new role, either. Take last winter, when he was thrust into the starting returner job for WVU’s Duke Mayo Bowl matchup with North Carolina -- on his first-ever collegiate punt return, Bishop took it to the house to help pace the Mountaineers to a postseason victory.

Now, Bishop is with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL on an undrafted free agent contract, and is facing both adversity and the need to adapt quickly. As an undrafted free agent, every day on the roster could be your last day as an NFL athlete -- nothing is guaranteed. In addition, he is transitioning from the role of an outside corner at WVU to a slot corner in the NFL, where he is viewed as a bit undersized.

However, during rookie minicamp this summer, Bishop has been making a good impression on the right folks.

“Beanie in the slot has been good. He is learning, just like most young guys, and so there's a curve in there,” Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “There’s going to be some things he's good at and some things he's not so good at. But his mentality is good, his work ethic is good, he's a sharp kid and so he's taken to that. I’ll be interested and really excited to see what happens when we get to Latrobe and we can really kind of [see], hey, is he going to be able to cover these bigger receivers? Can he get down the big backs? All the things like that.”

Despite his small stature, Bishop is gritty on the field -- he tallied 67 tackles, 20 pass deflections, and four interceptions for WVU last season, which are impressive numbers to begin with. But even more impressive considering he’s just 5’9 and 180 pounds.

Bishop has spent the summer working to learn the speed of the NFL game compared to the collegiate version, and has reportedly been soaking up advice from veteran talent on the roster. In an attempt to define himself as a talented blitzer in nickel packages, he has spent time studying a name Steeler fans will be familiar with to hone that skill.

“I like watching film of Mike Hilton and seeing how he played his last year here,” Bishop said. “Just so I can see, ‘OK, this is what I need to do to be able to be successful. This is how I can make the team.’ Watching his film gives me a better understanding of what they expect out of the nickels here.”

Austin has made it clear that he waits until he’s a little closer to the season and pads are on to get excited, as he claims some players “disappear” at that stage. But that isn’t really Bishop’s style, as WVU fans can attest to. Bishop said he plans to get acquainted with whatever role he can fill and give it every ounce of effort he has to make it work.

"For sure. Whether that's special teams or defense. Last year, they really didn't have a slot and I knew that was a need when I signed after the draft, so the opportunity is most definitely there,” Bishop said. “I feel once I learn the playbook, I just go out there and play fast and play hard. Just put it on tape. That's the name of the game. You don't really have to explain yourself to people, all you have to do is put it on tape."

Whether or not Bishop can make the impact he hopes remains to be seen, but many Mountaineer faithful will be quick to tell you he has as good a chance as anyone in his position. They’ve seen the work he puts in, and the magic he works on the field. Many would say he helped anchor the WVU defense last year, and if he can overcome his size disadvantage and adapt quickly to the next level, he could soon be doing so in Pittsburgh.