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Jarrett impressing coaches with improved conditioning, play

By Jeremy Tepper / Staff Writer

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Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi usually refrains from heaping praise on particular players. 

But when it comes to junior nose tackle Tyrique Jarrett, Narduzzi doesn’t hold back the plaudits.

“He can be a special player for us,” Narduzzi said.

Throughout spring practice, Jarrett took most of the first team reps at nose tackle. He has clearly run with the opportunity, as Pitt’s staff presented him with the Ed Conway Award in April, which annually recognizes the most improved players on offense and defense.

It’s a substantial leap for Jarrett, who played minimally in his first two years at Pitt. He totaled nine tackles over his first two years, with eight of them coming last season.

Jarrett’s jump from scarcely used to highly touted has occurred because of an increased emphasis on conditioning. Narduzzi estimates Jarrett has lost 17 to 20 pounds this offseason, bringing him to 340 pounds at 6 foot 3 inches.

The weight loss has afforded Jarrett the ability to participate in more plays without getting tired. The staff, though, hopes to get Jarrett down to 330 or 335 pounds, which the staff predicts to be an optimal playing weight for the junior. 

“If he got down to 330 he’d be a machine,” Narduzzi said. “He could probably go five or six plays hard. Some of those nose tackles in the NFL, they play two plays and they get them off, they drag them off the field.”

Defensive coordinator Josh Conklin expressed similar sentiments.

“If he can go more than four or five reps on first and second down, we’ve got a chance to be really good because he’s such a force in there,” Conklin said. 

Jarrett said he’s been able to “find a will and something to push him,” which has helped him lose weight. The coaching staff will only push him as much as he wants to pushed, Jarrett said. Jarrett’s girlfriend has motivated him as well.

“I saw his girlfriend and she wants him to lose 10 more [pounds] or she’s breaking up with him,” Narduzzi said jokingly. 

In addition to weight loss, Jarrett cited his improved understanding of the playbook and football in general as reasons for his leap. 

“Just the knowledge of the game,” Jarrett said. “Knowing more about the game and knowing when I can do things and certain movements.”

Pitt’s defensive line coach Tom Sims has been instrumental in that improvement.

“He’s taught me a lot,” Jarrett said. “He’s taught me about being patient with a lot of things and basically knowing when to hit it.”

Sims, Conklin and Narduzzi have continually stressed the importance of a good defensive line, which is pivotal in stopping the run. It seems Jarrett has picked up on their message.

“If you get penetration in the middle, you cut half the field,” Jarrett said. “If you cut half the field, they only have one side to run to.”

With pressure up the middle comes freed lanes and less responsibility for the linebackers, who are then able to better attack the ball and make plays.

“If you’ve got two [tackles] in there that can really play, it commands four bodies for those two and that allows your linebackers to play a whole lot faster,” Conklin said. 

Though stopping the run is Jarrett’s main responsibility, he said he’ll be able to make plays and pressure the offensive line and quarterback.

“If they can’t block you in the middle then you’re a force to be reckoned with,” Jarrett said.

As Pitt moves on to summer conditioning this month, Jarrett will focus on improving all facets of his play, though conditioning will be a priority — Jarrett said he wants to “stay on the field as much as possible.”

Though Jarrett said he played “really well” in spring practices, he said he still has room for improvement. He summed up his desires for the upcoming season in six simple words.

“I just want to make it,” Jarrett said.

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Jarrett impressing coaches with improved conditioning, play