PITTSBURGH — Through his first three years of college football, Rashad Weaver has transformed from a lightly heralded prospect into an outstanding defensive player and is ready to lead the Pitt football program into the 2019 season.
Weaver, a redshirt junior from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is looking to build off last season where he had his best year as a Panther, tallying 47 total tackles and 6.5 sacks. He comes into the 2019 season poised to take the next step and become not only the leader of the defense, but a leader that the entire team can look up to.
“Its year four, redshirt junior, senior in the classroom,” Weaver said after practice on Friday. “I’ve been on the field starting for two years now. It’s my time to step up and make sure we get to the place we are going because I know what this defense can do and what the whole team can do. I want to make sure we take advantage of that whether if it’s me hyping us up when we need to, or me getting on guys when we are not focused and I am going to make sure that happens because the clock is ticking before August.”
Weaver undoubtedly is one of the better defensive ends that Pitt has had on its roster in the last several years. Even with this, he understands that there are many parts of his game that he has had to and will look to continue to work on before the start of the season this fall.
“Getting off the first step, because you always want that to be as best as you can, being a D-lineman no matter how good you get,” Weaver said. “You see AD (Aaron Donald) working on that everyday and he is probably one of the best at it. Also, continue building muscle. You always want to be as strong as you can at D-line, and then being violent with all moves. You know sometimes you do a move but its not violent enough, and a 300 pound lineman knocks you off your course from getting a sack. So just being violent with everything and working on denial so you can finish plays.”
Weaver has made a significant impact for Pitt during the two year’s that he has seen action on the field. Pitt defensive coordinator Randy Bates, now in his second year with the program has played a role in the development of Weaver and he understands the importance that Weaver has on the defense and the younger guys on the team as a whole on and off of the field.
“His leadership is outstanding, but where he is most important is how he can teach everybody off of the field how to be a better football player,” Bates said. “Normally you win the games before you play them by knowing whats coming. The kids are really embracing the idea of going farther than we did last year, learning how to be more of a professional football player. What I mean by that is that they come in and study tape more, understand what they are studying and a guy like Weaver gives you that opportunity to go in, in times where we as coaches aren’t allowed to be with them and actually have them learn how to watch tape. It’s one thing to watch two hours of tape, but if you get nothing out of it, you are just wasting your time. So those older guys who got the experience off the field and have learned how to be a professional off of the field, that is what we hope the whole team can become.”
Weaver looks to continue the success he has already sustained in his time at Pitt into the 2019 season and help the team get back to the ACC Championship game next December.