As a youngster, Ryan Mundy played for a Pee Wee Football team called the West Pittsburgh Steelers.
And to hear him reflect on those carefree days, it's hard to tell what was more fun for him: playing in the games or donning his No. 34 jersey and football pants on autumn Sundays and collecting donations outside of Three Rivers Stadium before the, uh, other Steelers games.
"Those are very good memories I have of my childhood," Mundy said. More than a decade later, Mundy will try to complete the circle that started when he and his pint-sized teammates hit up tailgaters for extra change and collected one trophy after another.
The Steelers picked the Woodland Hills graduate in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on Sunday. He has a good chance of making the team given his size and smarts, not to mention the uncertainty the Steelers have at free safety.
"It definitely tells me how far I've come," Mundy said of becoming the first WPIAL product to get drafted by the Steelers since 1994. "Just looking back at all of the things I've been through and the long way I've came, it definitely makes me feel that much better about my situation."
Mundy's path to Pittsburgh -- or rather back to Pittsburgh -- was anything but a direct one.
His career started with promise at Michigan -- he started at free safety for the Wolverines as a sophomore -- but it stalled after he took a medical redshirt in 2005 because of a severely pinched nerve.
Needing a "fresh start," Mundy transferred to West Virginia in 2007, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allowed him to do so without having to sit out a year despite completing his degree in four years.
He made the most of his final college season, starting all 13 games for the Mountaineers and helping West Virginia make significant improvement on defense from the previous year.
"When you talk to the people at West Virginia, they really felt that Ryan was a huge part of pulling their defense together," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said.
Despite that and the 45 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries he made in 2007, Mundy wasn't among the more than 300 draft-eligible players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, however, made a good impression on the Steelers a couple of weeks later, when he worked out at West Virginia's Pro Day and met with Colbert and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers used its final draft pick on Mundy, and not long after it made him the 194th overall selection, he got a congratulatory text message from Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley, his close friend from when they played together at Michigan.
One thing that stands out about Mundy, who was an honors student in college, is his aptitude on the field. He picked up the system at West Virginia quickly enough to start right away, and he doesn't figure to get overwhelmed by what he'll be required to learn during the Steelers' minicamp and OTA practices.
"This is a very, very intelligent kid," Colbert said of Mundy, who also will be a candidate to play special teams, "a very mature kid that will have a nice chance to make this team."
The Steelers' situation at free safety is a murky, with Ryan Clark coming back from a serious illness and Anthony Smith trying to bounce back after regressing at the end of last season.
"I'll do," Mundy said, "whatever I can to get on the field."