Blue and gold leads to Lions blue

Closeup of a football game

There’s only one thing about his football career that bugs former Mt. Lebanon High School offensive lineman Colby Sorsdal—he won’t get a chance to play against the Steelers in his rookie NFL season.

Pretty much everything else? Groovy beyond belief.

Sorsdal, a consensus All-American at William & Mary, was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the NFL draft in April and attended that team’s minicamp in May. The Lions don’t play the Steelers in 2023, but Sorsdal is expected to get playing time as a first-year pro.

“It’s been a crazy process, but it’s definitely exciting,” he said.

“This process is different. It’s transforming from being a student-athlete to being a professional athlete. That comes with a lot of challenges. You’ve got to take care of your body 24/7 because that’s your moneymaker. And the playbook’s complex.”

Sorsdal might have a little bit of an edge in terms of taking care of himself physically. While all players have access to top-level athletic trainers and medical staff at the NFL level, Sorsdal also has a degree from William & Mary in kinesiology and health sciences.

“I know what’s sore when it’s sore,” he said with a laugh.

He also knows blocking and everything that goes with playing on the offensive line.

“He has all the requisites of being a good offensive lineman,” William & Mary coach Mike London said in an interview on the school’s athletics website. “He’s flexible, and he has a great punch when it comes to pass protection.”

Sorsdal played almost exclusively at right tackle in college, and he started from his first game as a freshman in 2018–an impressive note on a lineman’s resume. He set a school record for an offensive lineman by making 46 career starts.

His future in the NFL is widely considered to be at an interior spot on the line, probably at guard but perhaps a little at center. He played guard during the East-West Shrine Game, a postseason all-star event for players who just finished their college career. And he snapped balls during W&M’s pro day in front of NFL scouts.

At the Lions’ minicamp, he worked at guard.

“Moving inside was definitely an adjustment, but it was something that came naturally to me. I feel like I’m naturally gifted in picking up things quickly,” he said, adding that while minicamp “went really well,” he found that the step up to the NFL was everything he thought it would be, including highly challenging.

“We’re all professionals. Everybody’s strong. Everybody’s fast,” Sorsdal said. “It’s just really cool to be in that mindset of, like, OK, everybody’s good now and you’re at the elite level. You’re with the top 1 percent of football players.”

Detroit won eight of its last 10 games in the 2022 season and has a strong offensive line. The plan, according to various interviews and reports, is for Sorsdal to get playing time as a backup this fall and grow from there.

Time will be tight, but Sorsdal hopes to get back to Mt. Lebanon for visits. His family moved to Dallas a couple years ago, but he still has some fond memories of the area.

He grew up on Mayfair Drive, close enough to the high school to hang out on the fields there quite often, even before he played football for coach Mike Melnyk.

“Even in middle school, we’d be up there until late at night playing soccer or Frisbee or whatever,” Sorsdal said.

“I have great friends, lifelong friends, who are in Lebo. I love Lebo Subs in Uptown. I love Pizza Badamo. Rollier’s just gives me good vibes. I’m not one to go in there and just roam around, but that’s just a comfort spot for me. They always have something you need.

“I love Mt. Lebanon. It was a great place for me to grow up. Hopefully, in some years when I’m still here (in Detroit) we’ll play the Steelers eventually.”