Let me lead into this by saying that Devin Danielson is clearly a man of few words. Not that that is a bad thing. His answers were straight and to the point, which is what you’d expect from a hardworking, blue-collar Pittsburgh guy.
Devin played 238 snaps last season and graded out at 68.7, which is knocking on the door of “above average” as far as Pro Football Focus grades go. He’s supposedly got the inside track on the starting defensive tackle job for Pitt to replace Jaylen Twyman. Generally speaking Danielson’s run defense was better than his pass rush last season (as long as PFF grading is concerned), and that’s actually not a bad thing if Pitt has three other pass rushers on the line. I’m looking for Devin to take the next step this year if he breaks into the starting lineup. Here are the nuts and bolts of his interview:
On what he learned from Bill Cherpak (his high school coach: I learned a lot. How to work hard.
What are some examples of hard work: Running hills. Doing ladders. Just conditioning every day.
As a Pittsburgh guy, you’d expect Danielson to have a strong work ethic. I don’t think there are any surprises here. This is one of the reasons why I think we should expect him to improve.
On his thoughts when Jaylen Twyman opted out: I was a little confused at first, but I understand why he did it, and I wish him the best of luck and it just created an opportunity for me and all the D tackles.
On what it was like playing behind Jaylen: He really taught me how to watch film. How to truly watch film. Dive into the smallest details in a o linemen’s stance, the keys to a good get off and a whole bunch of things.
This is not be underrated, and is one of those intangibles that sets guys like Twyman and Aaron Donald apart from the rest.
Some things he needs to work on: Just mainly footwork and getting the fundamentals sound and consistent.
Spoken like a true student of the game.
How does it feel about knowing who the first opponent will be: Very excited.
Did I mention he was a man of few words? But really, what else are you going to say here?
What’s it like to have a bunch of experienced guys on the D Line: I learn something new every day.
What did you learn about yourself last year: I really learned how to prepare for a game. Last year really taught me how to prepare.
I wanted someone to follow up with “what kinds of things do you do this year that maybe you didn’t do your freshman year?”, but it either got edited out or nobody asked it. Oh well…
Hows the competition been: It’s a battle everyday.
What’s it like playing for coach Partridge: It’s amazing, you learn these small little details that you don’t think matters but then it all comes together. Little things like stance. People don’t think about that but i really makes a difference.
On what it’s like to go against Jimmy Morrissey: It’s amazing. He’s really fundamentally sound. His hands. His footwork.
On what stood out about Pitt: I really wanted to stay home. Loved being close to family and them being able to come to games, and I loved he coaches here.
If only all Pittsburgh players felt like Devin did. And he’s got a great point.
On hair change from Blond to not Blond: Every year before camp every single player on the team would dye their hair blond.
What if you didn’t want to: Most people wanted to.
Reporter: You aught to try it before the first game this year Jerry!
Jerry Di Paola: Maybe I will!
Well you’ve got to hand it to EJ and Pat, because just a week after I write a pretty scathing article about the performance of last year’s offensive tackles – with Warren being the focus – they trotted Carter Warren out for an interview. I have to say I was impressed. He’s clearly very intelligent and I believe he wants to succeed. He’s lost at least 10 lbs versus last year (he was listed at 325 and he said he’s down to 315) and says he added strength – which means muscle. We’ll have to see how he looks on the field, but he certainly said all the right things to help us believe that he’s developed into a better lineman than he was last year.
Also…even at 315, he’s a big dude.
What are of the things that the OL as a whole are trying to improve on: Obviously the run. Borbs has been stressing that we have to run the ball. we’ve got to be good at it if we want to win championships. It’s been a lot of emphasis on running the ball right now.
Oh please oh please let us be better at running the ball.
On Right Tackle: Been some great competition. [Mentions Gabe Houy] Bringing in Keldrick made it even better competition. We’re all battling for a spot right now.
Who’s his competition on the left side: Carson Van Lynn, and it’s everybody else. Borbs can put us all everywhere.
Note that if Warren has truly improved that Carson Van Lynn is probably not really competition. But as a position coach, Borbs can’t let these guys get complacent, so I get it.
Who’s impressed on defense: Pat Jones and Rashad Weaver: Two excellent guys. Two first rounders. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Damn Carter we were looking for some dirt on a young guy, but much respect for playing it safe.
On the scrimmage: We came out we fought and we gave it all we’ve got and it came out pretty good.
On the new guys on offense: He singled out Addison and Barden as playmakers. Now there is the dirt we are looking for.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Addison from a lot of different sources. We could be in for a pleasant surprise. Have heard Barden’s name come up a couple of times as well, but from what I understand, Addison might just be The Man. Time will tell.
Did Coach Borbs get angry Saturday, and what we he like when he’s angry (in reference to Pat saying the tackles played at a “C” level on Saturday): Of course he yells at us, and he just tells us the mistake we made and we just can’t make them again. As a group we just have to come back this next scrimmage and give it all we got.
I could see Borbs lighting those guys up but them coming around with the softer touch. Hopefully it works.
On Devin Danielson: He’s bringing along the young dudes. I feel like he’s been a true leader.
Interesting that he considers Devin to be a more senior guy now.
On going into his 2nd year: It’s been totally different. I know what to work on, I know what to pay attention too here and there. I feel like the corona virus helped me out just knowing the different defenses. I got stronger I’m playing at 315 now. I think I came a long way, so I’m excited. Ready to get it going.
On playing next to Brice for 2nd year: Been great communication since day one. I love playing next to him.
On the Zoom sessions during the off season. What takeaways does he have: One thing is looking down the field towards the safeties, just telling you where the blitz is coming from. I learned so much.
Interesting tidbit. Hopefully his newfound knowledge pays off.
On continuity: We’re a family, we’ve been battling together now. I’m excited for this year.
On Jimmy Morrisey as a leader: Overall I look at Jimmy as another coach. He tells you the right and wrong and do’s and don’ts. He’s changed a lot of people lives in this locker room. He’s the best. That’s all I can say. He’s the best.
I love this raw, unvarnished take on Jimmy. The tone of his voice says it all if you decide to watch / listen to the interview.
On Jimmy changing lives: Just knowing everybody the he building from the Janitors to the security. He knows everyone’s name. I just feel like he’s impacted a lot of lives from injuries to not getting a lot of playing time. I feel like he’s got the answer to a lot of things and I feel like that’s what makes him a great leader in my opinion.
Can he fill in for Jimmy after he laves?: I feel like that’s my spot next year. I have big shoes to fill. I pride myself every day on working hard and trying to be great.
Well he’s got a ways to go, but hey man shoot for the moon and you’ll end up among the stars. And to be clear, while I was critical about Warren’s performance last season, and while I’m skeptical about how much he’s going to improve, I would very much like for him to make a huge leap and have a great season, both for the team’s sake and for his own.
On Owen Drexel: Owen just come out and gives it everything he got every day. Hes’ a workhorse and that’s my dog. He’s been battling.
I have a feeling that he says that about a lot of people. Not that it’s a bad thing to say. Obviously they are friends (“that’s my dog”). Drexel may not be another Jimmy Morrissey but we are all pulling for him to develop into a good center.
Hail to Pitt
As an added bonus here is Randy Bates “Wired Up”. Still one of my favorite coaches.