Olsavsky Likes What He Sees

Former Pitt and Steelers linebacker Jerry Olsavsky, an assistant football coach at Youngstown State University the past six seasons, was back on campus recently to evaluate the talent at the Panthers Prospects Camp.

Olsavsky also took some time to talk to Panther Digest to evaluate the progress of the Pittsburgh football program now that some of his good friends are back in the fold and the team is on the rise again.

"There are a lot more people that I know here, like Matt Cavanaugh and Coach Wannstedt, Buddy Morris,'' Olsavsky said. "So, there's just a lot of good people here, but that's how it's always been for me with the University of Pittsburgh.

"And that's why we come back all the time. I was down here a couple months ago to watch the spring game, and they looked good. Dave's done a real nice job in three years. And they're getting real good on defense, which is something that I'm really happy to see. That means a lot in my mind.

"Some people might feel differently, like the previous coaching staff,'' Olsavsky added. "(But) usually, defense wins championships. That's the bottom line. Getting in the weight room with Buddy and playing hard-nosed defense, that's what it's all about. And then let the offense go score some points.''

Olsavsky always was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, with the Panthers as well as the Steelers. And the Pitt football program probably would welcome Olsavsky back with open arms if the situation came about, not just because he's a die-hard Panthers fan, but since the change in the coaching staff a lot of his old friends are in the program.

"When I see some of the guys, it reminds me of when I was in school,'' Olsavsky said. "But there are a lot of guys who are bigger than me. I played with guys like Tony Siragusa and Mark Stepnoski, some big guys, but it's starting to get back to that with the guys they have now. And it all starts with the head coach.

"Dave has a plan, and he has a staff of good people to work for him. They're bringing in some good recruits, year after year, and eventually it'll pay off with wins on the football field. I'm loyal to Buddy, of course, because I worked with him, and I know that his players are getting bigger. But it all starts with Dave.

"Dave knows what Pitt football is all about,'' Olsavsky added. "Matt Cavanaugh, Bob Junko, guys like that. They know what it takes to get the job done, and they have the best interests of the program in mind. They're making progress, but haven't had a lot of on-field success. I think that'll change this year.''

And Olsavsky will be watching from afar, but not that far away. He made the trip from Youngstown to play for the Panthers in the past, and he'd do it again if he got a chance. Olsavsky looks like he could still play, although he's slimmed down and not as bulked up from lifting as he was during his playing days.

But Olsavsky is quite busy these days with his regular job.

"It's been a great experience for me, coaching in my hometown,'' Olsavsky said. "We didn't do as well as we usually do last year and missed the playoffs, but we have some good young kids who play a lot of good football.

"I really enjoy coaching there. I can spend time with my kids, and it's great that my mom knows I'm just down the street. It's where I grew up. My oldest son's in school now and has friends there, so that's great. We still love Pittsburgh and think about coming back, but we're doing great in Youngstown.''

And until then, Olsavsky will always be a Pitt fan at heart.

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