Former Pitt offensive lineman Connor Dintino didn’t get a great chance to showcase himself in his first four years with the Panthers.
Spending time mostly as a reserve, an extra fullback, a defensive tackle and a special teams player, there wasn’t a lot of film on him doing the things that he does best.
That changed in a big way in 2018, when Dintino earned a starting spot at left guard, and then also was trusted to play center when started Jimmy Morrissey went down with an injury.
In his redshirt senior season, Dintino played against a half-dozen defensive tackles that will be playing in the NFL next year, from the Clemson duo of Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence to Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery, Miami’s Gerald Willis, Penn State’s Kevin Givens. Virginia Tech, Syracuse and UCF also all featured players that could be selected in this year’s NFL Draft.
So it’s probably not that surprising that when Dintino was showcased in the Tropical Bowl in Daytona Beach earlier this month, he stood out.
One evaluator called Dintino the “most consistent lineman.” That’s the role that he thrived in for Pitt — being a steady, consistent contributor, regardless of the role or the situation.
Dintino said the recognition was validation of his experience at Pitt.
“It was good seeing other people around the country, playing against some of the best competition from some of the best teams in the country,” he said to Pittsburgh Sports Now. “There’s a lot of competition, but I know I can compete.”
“It’s definitely more of a challenge going down there, because you don’t have the chance to really scout them and really know what they’re doing or seeing their tendencies, but I think the ACC has produced a lot of good people this year.”
Dintino is not at the top of draft boards, but he’ll continue to have opportunities to show what he’s capable of doing when given an opportunity. Next, he will return to Pitt to continue to train with strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews in advance of Pitt’s pro day.
“I think he has the best strength staff in the country, hands down,” Dintino said. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. … I’m just really focused on my recovery and my training.”
Even if Dintino goes undrafted, the prospects for such players continuing in pro football has never been better, with the Alliance of American Football beginning its inaugural season this spring and the XFL scheduled to re-launch in 2020 in addition to the NFL, CFL and Arena League.
Dintino said he’s gotten some advice from a former Pitt player that has gone through the process that he’s taken to heart;
“Don’t go through the motions,” he said. “Put all your effort into in and enjoy it.”
That shouldn’t be hard for a player that’s never been short of effort in his career.