Continuing with a flurry of successful recruiting, the Steelers sign Tino Ndongo for the 2018 season in the Maple League. Ndongo is known on the field for his speed and his physical and mental toughness. He collected 53 catches, 21 touchdowns, and covered 1,100 yards by the end of the 2017 season. He is also responsible for a thrilling 97 yard touchdown during the 2017 Spaghetti Bowl that no Steelers fan will be forgetting about any time soon! As evinced by his stats and his participation on the 2017 National Team, Ndongo is, overall, a high end Finnish football player who the Steelers are lucky to have locked into their roster.
In regard to signing Ndongo, Jussi Friman, the Steelers General Manager, said, “I am naturally very happy that the contract with Tino got done. Tino is truly an exceptional athlete, whose development in the last three years has been nothing short of amazing. This past season was the final breakthrough for Tino in a way, now all football people outside of Kuopio know him too. In Kuopio people have known all about this young man for a while now. The upcoming off season with Seth Peters and the coaches we have promises again good things for Tino’s development as a player.”
In addition to Ndongo being a naturally talented athlete and football player, he is highly motivated to train and practice to become even better, which—because he is currently only 20 years old—he has plenty of time to do. And he won’t be training alone. As Friman mentioned, Ndongo will have the opportunity to work with Steelers QB Seth Peters during the off season, meaning Ndongo will not only grow physically stronger, but will also further develop his connection with Peters. That is to say, Ndongo was already a threat on the field, but he’ll really be something to look out for next year. Yet, Ndongo’s talents are not limited to those of a receiver. He has also played running back and defensive back for the Steelers. Such versatility paired with such intense commitment will make Ndongo a real asset to the Steelers team in 2018.
Fortunately for Ndongo, the Steelers realize how valuable he is and plan to do everything they can to support him. As stated by Friman, “We as a team will always be about improving our players as individuals and helping them be the best players they can. I know Tino has his own personal goals as a player, and we will continue to support him in his efforts to reach those goals. Next summer Tino will be introduced to an even bigger audience in the Maple League, and we can’t wait to see the player he will become with yet another off season of hard work.”
After making the decision to sign with the Steelers, we had a few questions for Ndongo himself. Read on to see how he answered.
What do you think the reason for your success as a football player is?
I think it’s my work ethic and my mindset. Almost every Friday or Saturday night when others are drinking and partying or laying down watching movies or whatever, I’m at the gym putting some work in. I believe, when you work really hard, good things will happen to you. Believing in that sentence has gotten me this far.
What do you plan to do to improve as a football player and become even stronger?
I’m planning to practice even harder and smarter. I will improve my physical and mental weaknesses.
What are your personal goals for the future as a football player?
I want to keep my personal goals myself, but I will grind as hard as I ever can and see what happens.
Why did you decide to sign with the Steelers?
Coaches, they have never give up on me even when I have been a total fool. Especially because of Pekka. Three years ago, when it was my first season in Steelers, I weighed 50 kilos and I didn’t show up in practices and I wasn’t motivated at all. Pekka still saw something in me, and he gave me a chance to be a big part of this team. Pekka is the guy who will do whatever he can to get the best out of you, so he is a great coach to play for. The players in this team are awesome. Every single one of them. Team spirit in this team is really unique. Another big reason is that Seth will be our QB next season, and he’s staying here for the whole off-season. It’s something you just can’t resist especially if you are a receiver.
What are your goals for the Steelers?
To do whatever I can to help us win the Maple League, and to show to anyone who doubts us what we are capable of and how we play ball.
Ndongo’s passion for the sport and willingness to work hard make him an exemplary Steelers team member, and with Ndongo and all of his teammates putting in hard work during the off season, we can’t wait to see them come out strong next year. Ndongo’s signing has only made it clearer that the Steelers are already shaping up to be a team to watch for next year in the Maple Bowl.