After a long battle for the right tackle position throughout Steelers training camp, Zach Banner has officially been named the starter. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had previously listed both Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor as co-starters in Pittsburgh’s first depth chart of the 2020 season.
Zach Banner vs. Chukwuma Okorafor
For months, offensive tackles Banner and Okorafor have been competing for the starting right tackle position.
After graduating from the University of Southern California in 2017, Banner was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. He also spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers prior to joining the Steelers during 2018 training camp.
Banner is now heading into his third season with the Steelers.
Everyday I’m proving a hater wrong. Keep the fuel coming though. Don’t stop now… pic.twitter.com/tsMTMc62KY
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) September 8, 2020
Prior to joining the Steelers, Okorafor played college football at Western Michigan University. There, he was selected by FWAA and Phil Steele as a first-team All-American, and a second-team All-American. He was also one of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy, an award given to the nation’s best offensive lineman.
The Steelers selected Okorafor with the 92nd overall pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-6 offensive lineman is also entering his third season with Pittsburgh.
Battle for Right Tackle Position
In Tomlin’s eyes, both Banner and Okorafor are capable of starting, making it difficult to choose between the two.
“I’m comfortable with the right tackle prospects,” Tomlin said during his weekly press conference. “It’s been a tough decision because I feel like we have two guys who are starter-capable. That’s a good issue to have. We’ll quickly sort through that as we get through the week and formulate what is best for us in terms of winning this football game.”
The battle for right tackle was the longest of training camp. It also posed possibly the toughest decision that Tomlin and the rest of the Pittsburgh coaching staff had to make during camp.
The competition between Banner and Okorafor came as a result of Matt Feiler moving to left guard, replacing newly retired Ramon Foster.
Banner will be tested during the Steelers’ Monday night matchup against the New York Giants. His former USC teammate, Leonard Williams, is listed as a starting defensive tackle for week one.
Banner Comes Out on Top
The news of Banner’s starting position was first announced by ESPN Pittsburgh’s Adam Crowley.
SOURCES: Zach Banner has been named the #Steelers starting RT.
— Adam Crowley (@_adamcrowley) September 8, 2020
Last season, Banner became a popular player throughout Steelers Nation. Each time No. 72 was announced as an eligible receiver during the 2019 season, the crowd went wild.
Banner also has a strong presence on Twitter, usually joking around with teammates like Devlin Hodges and, more recently, Eric Ebron.
Aside from being a fan favorite on social media, Banner is looking to please fans by becoming a stronger, more productive player on the field.
“I’m extremely grateful that I am not a bubble roster guy anymore. I am going to be on the 53,” Banner said last week. “I’m not saying that is what I’m settling at. I want to be great, I want to play, I do want to be a starter. I am extremely competitive.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.
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