Redshirt freshman Shayne Hale and redshirt sophomore Brandon Lindsey are perfect examples for the Pittsburgh football team.
Some believed Hale would be the heir apparent at middle linebacker for the Panthers, while Lindsey played all three backer spots during his first two seasons. Now, both have moved to defensive end and made an impact during the annual Blue-Gold game Saturday.
"They've been grooming me for the move since the middle of last season and now all this spring, and I think I finally was able to make some plays as a defensive end,'' Hale said. "You definitely have to be a great pass-rusher and be able to read the lineman's hands, their eyes and footwork.
"And you have to be able to read the down blocks. You can't just rush the quarterback (without thinking). You have to be able to come down on runs and everything. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's not hard once you get going and can fly off the ball and get to the quarterback.''
Both Hale and Lindsey did that successfully in the scrimmage, even though Lindsey just switched midway through the spring workouts. Lindsey had four solo tackles with two sacks, while Hale had three solo stops, four overall, a sack and two total stops behind the line.
"I've played everywhere but cornerback and safety,'' Lindsey said. "I don't have the hips to play there, though. I'm not all that comfortable at defensive end yet. I don't know all the line moves yet. I wish they hadn't blown the whistle as quick on my second sack. I thought I could've really got him.
"I know Coach (Greg) Gattuso rotates his defensive linemen, and that gives me a better shot at playing. I'm not used to the guys coming at me being 300 pounds, but I was just out there trying to get better. I've still got a long way to go, but I think I did get better by the end of the spring.''
Hale has made quite a jump since the end of last season. It took him a while to get into the position switch, but he's entrenched now.
"When you have a lot of people behind you and pushing you, that makes everything a lot easier and makes you feel good about everything and makes you want to work harder to make everyone happy,'' Hale said. "You know, you want to do the right thing, and you want to make the best of it.''
Hale and Lindsey were commended for their improvement this spring by Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt.
"The defensive line is ahead of our offense at this point,'' Wannstedt said. "I was encouraged by Shayne Hale, Brandon Lindsey and Tyler Tkach. They really showed up for us. It was great to see improvement in our young players.''
For Hale, it's all been a tremendous learning experience.
"It's great for me, because there's a great group of guys who I can look up to and learn from like Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard,'' Hale said. "They're great guys, and they've helped me out a lot. If I stick with them, they'll help me be a better player than I am right now. And that's what I want to be.
"I know a lot of people expected a lot from me, and I did, too. But that doesn't put any more pressure on me than I put on myself. I'm happy for all the support, being a local guy, and I just want to go out and have as much fun as possible and learn as much as possible. So, that's what I'm doing.''
And the Panthers' defense will benefit in the future.
Hale, Lindsey Next Pitt Pass-Rushing Stars
Panther More Top Stories
Go premium and get SI free for a yearGo premium with PantherMore.com today and get Sports Illustrated for free.
Panther MoreYesterday at 8:53 AM
ONE YEAR LATER: Canada vs. ChaneyFormer Pitt offensive coordinator Jim Chaney bolted back to the SEC when he accepted the open offensive coordinator job at Georgia this past offseason, leaving Pitt coach Pat…
Panther MoreThursday at 1:36 PM
Pat Narduzzi listed as "hot commodity" coachScout.com gives you its mid-season list of coaches who could take head coaching positions elsewhere after 2016. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is listed among college football's hottest…
ScoutThursday at 10:00 AM
Four-star Thompson set to visit PittFour-star Pitt commit Aaron Thompson slated to check out Pitt's campus.
Panther MoreThursday at 8:40 AM