When the Steelers signed former Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky earlier this month, some people had to be thinking, "Hey, isn't that the guy who ... "
Yup, that's him.
The guy who beat Oklahoma on a behind-the-back handoff in the Fiesta Bowl two years ago.
The guy who started the impossible play that sent the game into overtime.
The guy who graces the cover of EA Sports' insanely popular video game "NCAA Football O8."
Let's start with the Fiesta Bowl, which produced one of the great finishes in sports history -- better than Cal's band-on-the-field victory over Stanford, because we're not talking about just one incredible play.
We're talking about three: the 50-yard hook-and-lateral on fourth-and-18 to tie the score with seven seconds left; the fourth-down option pass (from a receiver to a tight end) to pull Boise State within a point in overtime; and the fake-pass-with-the-right-hand, behind-the-back-handoff-with-the-left, Statue of Liberty play to win it.
Maybe fate decided that Zabransky, after a year as an undrafted free agent on the Houston Texans' practice squad, should join the franchise famous for the Immaculate Reception.
Incidentally, both those plays - Boise State's "Statue Left" and the Immaculate Reception - are among ESPN's final eight in its "Greatest Highlight" competition. "Statue Left" goes head-to-head with Cal's crazy kick return in the next round.
"If we make it past that, I think we have a pretty good shot," Zabransky said with a laugh during a phone interview Friday from Houston, where his fiancee lives.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a goat-turned-hero tale quite like Zabransky's against Oklahoma. With 62 seconds left in regulation, he threw a horrendous sideline interception that was returned 33 yards for a tie-breaking touchdown and a 35-28 Oklahoma lead.
Several heart-stopping plays later, Boise State had an unforgettable victory - but it didn't end there. Tailback Ian Johnson, who'd scored the winning points, dropped to his knees in the end zone and proposed to his girlfriend, and Zabransky wound up on the "NCAA 08" cover, beating out LSU's JaMarcus Russell.
Nobody has to tell Zabransky that if he didn't make up for his pick, EA Sports wouldn't have called.
"I would have been on the cover of something," he says, "and it probably wouldn't have been good."
Zabransky's agent, Monroeville native Eric Metz, remembers Zabransky's reaction when told how much the "NCAA 08" cover gig was worth (a little more than $40,000, according to Zabransky).
"He said, 'I'd pay that to be on the cover,' " Metz said.
The Steelers presented a good opportunity for Zabransky because coach Mike Tomlin likes to keep three quarterbacks, and last year's No. 3, Brian St. Pierre, was not re-signed.
"They showed a lot of interest, and I had a good workout," Zabransky said. "I can create a lot with my feet, which helps. They said they'd like to have a different kind of guy in the wings."
Spring camp begins May 17 on the South Side. Zabransky's marriage will go on as planned, May 31, but the honeymoon has been pushed to late June.
He didn't happen to propose to his fiancee on a football field, did he?
"Nope, no bended knee in the end zone," Zabransky said. "I leave that to the crazy running backs."