PITTSBURGH, Pa. (KDKA) -- If Tampa, Florida seems like it's a long way from Pittsburgh, that's because it is. But it doesn't seem that way for Beaver County native Jordan Whitehead.
Whitehead is the Buccaneers' starting strong safety, and he's one of about 10 Tampa Bay players and coaches who have ties to western Pennsylvania.
"It's like home here. There are a lot of Pittsburgh connections here," Whitehead said. "Just growing up watching Coach [Larry] Foote and Coach [Antwaan] Randle El and guys like them. It's like that's who I used to watch and look up to and now they are out there coaching me. It feels like home."
After a stellar high school career at Central Valley, Whitehead chose to stay home and play college football for the Pitt Panthers. During his time in Oakland, he became friends with Steelers running back James Conner. The two remain close to this day.
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"Talking with James a couple of days ago, he is just excited for me. We talked about moments like this all the time. For me, just thinking back to what he went through with the fight. He really pushed me to be great and he is the happiest for me right now. So I just want to thank him and I hope he is doing good."
Conner isn't the only motivator Whitehead credits for getting him to where he is today. He's grateful for his western Pennsylvania backing and says win or lose this weekend, he'll never forget where he came from.
"It's an honor and a blessing to be putting on for the home town, for Pittsburgh, for Pitt and my high school Central Valley back home. A lot of people support me from Aliquippa, Monaca, Center (Township). It feels good to know that somebody back home is putting on for the community and it definitely makes me want to give back even more. All the hard work, all the work people put into me when I was younger helping me get to this position. I'm very blessed."
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