Former Pitt tight end Scott Orndoff needs little introduction. He ended his football career with 58 receptions for 897 yards with 13 touchdowns as a Panther. Scott was a fan favorite and generally considered one of the best tight ends to lineup at Heinz Field in the last decade. After short stints with several NFL teams and a recently playing for the Orlando Apollos of the defunct Alliance of American Football, he’s prepared to give back to the game he loves. Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with him about some recent event that occurred with Pitt athletic program and his future endeavor.
The last six months has brought considerable change to the Pitt Panther athletic program. Fans were presented with a new direction, logo, colors, clothing, etc. The new look, developed in conjunction by Nike and the Pitt athletic department, has been very well received. What are your thoughts on the new look and direction?
I think it’s good. From the time I got to Pitt, it always seemed like there a large group of people that wanted the old colors to come back. I know there’s a group of fans that see the blue and gold we wore when I was playing and immediately think of the Steve Pederson era. For many of the old school fans that go back decades, I think there’s a sigh of relief switching back to our traditional colors. I really like the colors. I like them better than the colors we wore. I know when we had the opportunity to wear the retro uniforms, our entire team was excited. Everyone around Pitt, students and athletes, seem to like the change. The colors are more vibrant. They seem to have more energy. It’s good for the entire university moving forward.
What are your thoughts on the new Panther head logo?
At first when I saw it, it kind of threw me off. At the same time though I thought back to the Panther logo from like the Larry Fitzgerald era, and you could hardly tell what it was if you didn’t know any different. So I think they did a good job with it. It’s very clean and looks sharp on a t-shirt. At first it throws you off because you’re not used to it. The more my wife and I discussed it, the logo really grew on us. It’s better than anything we had in the past. It’s great to have both the script Pitt and a logo of our mascot. That’s pretty cool.
As a current and former player, is there a mind-body connection when you get the uniform on and you’re feeling good? You mentioned the team loved wearing the old retro uniforms. Does sharp swag equal better performance?
I honestly do. I know there were a lot of guys on game day that would put on extra stuff to get a certain look going. I never did it, but many players like to do it. There’s a that saying, ‘look good, play good’ and I honestly think there’s something to it. Whenever I was getting ready to warm up for a game, more recently in Orlando, I would throw on my game uniform and I loved our look. I felt like I would loosen up a lot quicker and my blood would get flowing. Your uniform can become part of your mindset on game day. You know its different than practice. It’s time to perform.
Do you have any thoughts on the upcoming football season?
It’s funny because when I look at Pitt’s roster now, there are a lot of the guys I never played with. It makes me feel a little old. On the other hand, it’s exciting because there’s a lot of fresh faces in the program. I know they guys who are juniors and seniors. The seniors will have to take ownership of their new roles as leaders. Pitt needs to show that winning the Coastal Championship was no fluke. They didn’t get lucky because teams lost certain games and got in. They need to show that Pitt has developed a winning culture. It’s not a one-year fluke. Everyone know that winning is infectious. When you win, you attract better recruits and the process of winning repeats itself. When you win, it’s more fun to go to work every day, you enjoy it more, and it affects your play positively, so I think hopefully this year’s team can step it up. I hope they can compete for another ACC championship.
You have decided to open a business that will greatly benefit developing football players. Tell me about it.
I’m currently a free agent. I think while I have the time and the game is still fresh to me, I want to start working on something that I can extend beyond my football career. I’ve dedicated so much of my life to the game of football. I’ve learned so much from different coaches throughout my life. I think the game of football, as dangerous as it can potentially be, if you learn to do it right and you do the right things early in your career it will greatly pay off as you progress through your playing career. You have to start with a solid foundation. If you have the right foundation, the right technique in place, that’ll just exponentially improve as you get older. You’ll need the right foundation and technique when the pads really start cracking and the hits are harder and the players are faster. You’ll have the edge over someone who might not really know how to truly play the game right. I think I owe it to the game and I owe it to other people and to myself to take all the knowledge that I’ve learned over the course of my career and give it out to others.
I mean I love the game of football. I always have. It’s all I’ve done since I was 8 years old. I just want to find young players with the same passion for the game and help them improve their game and help them succeed. I’ve learned a lot about the game. If I can help a player that doesn’t have proper guidance, then I think the player, myself and the game of football benefits from it.
What will you offer a young football player that comes to you for tutelage?
I need to initially find out what the player wants. What do they want to improve on? What position do they want to play? Technique will be the foundation of the whole workout because if you’re lacking technique in football, you’re in trouble from the git-go. You can be as strong and as fast as you want, but you’re at a true disadvantage without proper technique. I’ve had teammates in the pros who, they’re not the fastest guys, they’re not the strongest guys, but they’re technicians on the field, and they know how to work routes and they know how to get the upper hand in little subtle ways on guys. If you don’t have technique then it doesn’t matter how physically gifted you are or how strong, fast, quick, whatever it is. An example of technique would be footwork and handwork for anyone that will be catching or handling footballs. You’ll drill with the hands, catching, hand-eye coordination, ball security, etc.
Conditioning will be another key element. Football conditioning is totally different than conditioning that most people think about. For you to be in shape for football you can’t just go jog a couple miles. You got to do short bursts because no matter how much you try to train and condition yourself leading up to the season, you never really get in football playing shape until you actually play football. There’s no way to do it without actually playing it, because it’s different than almost any other sport. Football is a game of short bursts. I’ll train player to get used to that, especially for anyone that hasn’t played the game. I’ll get them used to the short bursts and getting their body used to the straining and all the other subtle things that go along with football.
I feel that I’ve been exposed to so much in my football career that I can help a player in many aspects of the game. I would be able to provide tips and improve their game in a short amount of time. If for some reason I feel a player need additional help, I will do everything I can to research ways to help them and feed off the experience of players I’ve played with throughout my career. I’m willing to work with them on classroom work as well. I think that’s just as important. You need to learn how to study the game I wasn’t taught that as a young player. It’s a vital skill to learn at an early age if you really want to succeed at the game. I simply want the player to come to me ready to work. You won’t achieve anything in life or football unless you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
Where do you plan on working with players? Do you have a central location?
I’m just starting out. Everything is fairly new. I’m willing to work on any field. I’ll take whatever field is available. We just need some decent quality grass or turf to work with. I’ll work with the individual or group to find places to workout. I’ll be reaching out locally to coaches and school to inquire about access to their fields. I don’t think it will be an issue.
Are you willing to work with a multitude of positions? Offense and defense?
Yes, it doesn’t matter what position they want to play. I have a tremendous amount of experience and I’ve played a number of positions. I have enough knowledge of each position to help them in some way shape or form.
How can a player or parent reach you for your services?
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru