Roosevelt Nix considers himself to be a student of football.

That's been put under a microscope more than ever the last three years, but he's continued to pass every test.

After not being selected in the 2014 NFL draft, the former standout defensive lineman for Reynoldsburg High School and Kent State moved to fullback in his pursuit of a professional career.

Switching positions has worked out well for Nix, who is set to enter his third season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's been (a) smooth (transition), but it's definitely been a learning process," Nix said. "I learn something new every day and my coaches have helped me progress. It's a good fit. They take the time with me, and I'm learning a lot right now."

Nix saw time as a blocking back for Reynoldsburg but was tough to contain on defense throughout his prep career. As a senior in 2009, he had 67 tackles, including 21 for loss, and was named second-team all-state in Division I.

At Kent State, he led the Mid-American Conference in tackles for loss with 20 in 2010 to become the first freshman in program history to be named MAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Nix again made first-team all-MAC in 2011 when he had 17 tackles for loss. In 2012, he was voted a team captain and had 15 tackles for loss and six sacks and was named first-team all-MAC as the Golden Flashes finished 11-3.

Nix had 13 tackles for loss and made first-team all-MAC as a senior in 2013 to become the first Kent State player and fifth player in MAC history to be named first-team all-conference for four seasons.

He concluded his college career as Kent State's all-time leader in tackles for loss with 65 and ranks second in program history in sacks with 24. He also had 182 career tackles and 12 career forced fumbles.

"I guess I can take credit or the blame for him being a down lineman," Reynoldsburg coach Buddy White said, jokingly. "He started off at linebacker but he was just one of the most explosive players I've ever coached. He had that thing that you can't coach. I know we put him in the backfield in his senior year, but it was mainly as a blocker. As a lead blocker, he would blow people up."

After not being invited to work out at the NFL combine in February 2014 and going undrafted, the 5-foot-11, 248-pound Nix first considered moving to linebacker and dropped 19 pounds before settling on becoming a fullback.

He signed a three-year, $1.54 million contract in May 2014 with the Atlanta Falcons but was released Aug. 3 of that year.

Nix had a short stint with the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League in October 2014 but was signed by the Steelers on Jan. 9, 2015, to a one-year, $435,000 reserve/futures contract.

He caught the eye of the Steelers' coaching staff with his special teams play during the 2015 preseason and made the team.

For much of his two seasons with the Steelers, Nix has served as the blocking back for another Reynoldsburg native, running back Le'Veon Bell.

Bell, a Groveport graduate who played for Michigan State, rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns last season and has 4,045 career yards and 26 career touchdowns heading into his fifth NFL season.

"Le'Veon has been a great dude," Nix said. "Seeing two people from Columbus in the same backfield is rare."

Nix made his first career NFL start in the Steelers' 25-14 win over Arizona on Oct. 18, 2015. He appeared in 15 games, making four starts, that season, recording two catches for 11 yards and seven tackles on special teams.

The Steelers made it to the divisional round of the 2015 AFC playoffs, but Nix missed both of their playoff games with a foot injury.

Nix, who signed a one-year, $525,000 contract extension with the Steelers on Jan. 19, 2016, missed the first five games last season with a back injury and made his first start of the season in a 24-9 win over Cleveland on Nov. 20.

The Steelers finished the regular season 11-5 to win the AFC North Division and reached the AFC championship game before losing to eventual Super Bowl champion New England 36-17.

"It's such a winning culture," Nix said. "Pittsburgh has a tradition of being great. Last year we made it to the AFC championship game. Every year I get a little more of a taste of winning and I want to get it done."

Nix signed a one-year, $615,000 contract extension with the Steelers on Jan. 27 and will report to the team's training camp July 27 at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. But before doing so, he plans to return to his high school alma mater on Saturday, July 15, for a football camp that will be free and open to youth of all ages.

According to White, Nix previously has given back to the community in other ways, such as providing free shoes to young athletes in need.

"I'll never forget Reynoldsburg and the support they gave me," Nix said. "Some of those guys are my best buddies now and some are my mentors and role models. There will be other NFL players (at the Reynoldsburg youth football camp), too. It'll be fun."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek