Bobby Engram has coached Pitt's two most productive players this season in receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd, and the second-year coach spoke with the media this week to talk about his star players and his approach as a coach.
Here's a transcript of his Q&A with the press.
As freshmen go, what can you say about Tyler, just how he has done through nine games?
I think it's everything that you think and you hope for in a freshman, but rarely does it happen. It's hard to do. But we told him when we were recruiting him that he'd have to come earn it, and he has done that. He has worked extremely hard, he has studied hard, he has paid attention to details and he just kind of made a seamless transition and fit in with the team, and it's been pretty cool to see.
Have you had to stay on him?
Always. He's still a freshman. I'm still on him. He does a lot of things well, but there's so much he can improve on. That's my main thrust with him: just keep working hard and every day you can get a little better. Pick one thing, whether it's your footwork, whether it's your releases, whether it's catching the ball; that's the thing that's exciting, that he does have a lot of room for improvement and he's willing to work at it.
You're still a pretty young coach, and he's a kid who played at a small school, didn't really play too much wide receiver; not to pat yourself on the back, but what was your approach to getting him to play at this level?
First of all, it wasn't just me; it was a lot of guys in this building. I probably talk to him more than anybody, but Coach Rudolph, Coach Chryst, Coach Bollinger, we had all hands on deck. And I think you tell him exactly what's going to be expected, you tell him what to expect, and just paint a picture, give him a vision. He believed what we were saying and what our vision is for Pitt and where we want to take this football program. If you like a challenge and you're a competitor, then you come on board and let's go get this thing right; he accepted that challenge.
He has been really coachable in that regard?
Absolutely. You know, he's pretty locked in, pretty sharp. I think he has a great memory, and he gets it, in terms of, you don't have to keep repeating things over and over. That's why you see the production on the field; he's able to pick up the playbook. Not only that, but the details I throw at him - and Coach Chryst, Coach Bollinger, Coach Rudolph, all the guys on the offensive side - there are a lot of details in the offense and he's been able to grasp those and go out and execute it, not just comprehend it in the classroom.
Has Devin taken the steps that you expect a fifth-year senior to take at this point in his career?
Absolutely. I think Devin has made tremendous strides since we've been here. I think back to the first winter and spring, he's a totally different player and a totally different person. He has really matured. And I stay on him: he has a lot of room for improvement as well. But the thing that you like about Devin is, he's stepping up in the moments when a senior should step up. Like the game against Notre Dame: huge play. Not only did he catch the ball, he broke a tackle and dove in the end zone; that's a desire. You want your upperclassmen to take the lead when the game's in the balance like that. And he's been great with the young guys; him and Tyler have really formed a genuine bond, and I think Devin's happy and genuinely so for his success and he wants to see Tyler do well. At the same time, he's a competitor and he wants to do well, and that's healthy for the room.
How do you think Devin's skill-set will carry over to the next level?
He's tall. He can run. He's got good hands. You know, it's hard to judge how guys make that transition from this level to the next. But I think he has all of the attributes. I think he has a desire to be good and go to the next level and do well. We'll see, but I think his skill-set will transfer fine if he just goes in there and stays the course and works and continues to study and do all of the things that made him successful at this level.
How much tape do you show of yourself to your receivers?
None. I mean, they may Google some stuff or some highlights; I think there's a couple ancient footages out there. But it's really about them at this point. I'll pull up some stuff here and there just to show them a route or show them a release. Mostly, I show them other guys from the NFL, try to really focus on the guys that I saw do it really well at a high level. Jerry Rice, or you look at the guys that are playing now like Andre Johnson or Greg Jennings, who just went over to Minnesota, and they can see. Our offense is a pro-style offense, so they can look at these guys and see them work the same releases, they can see them run the same routes, and it energizes the meeting. I know I get boring at times; I have to keep them on edge somehow.
You played well into your 30's; did you see yourself as being cerebral?
I had to be. Look at me: short and slow. I had to have something going for me. I mean, I loved that part of the game, and that's why, when you become older, you appreciate that. When you're young, you're really trying to get by on a lot of athletic ability. I had some good coaches that made me understand the importance of really trying to grasp the defense and how they were trying to defend you. So the older I got in my career, the more I appreciated that and what the coaches were able to help me do.
Did you always want to be a coach?
I thought I did for a long time, but I wasn't sure. You think one thing, you retire and then things change. But I took a year off and it was something I had a desire to do. I had a football camp for quite awhile when I was playing. That was one of the things I enjoyed: going out and coaching and working with the kids. So I'm blessed to be able to do it as a profession.
Click Here to view this Link.