PITTSBURGH – Football is often a sport where individual aspirations are tempered or diminished. The success of the team is championed over the success of the player.
While he shares the team’s overall goal of building on their ACC Coastal division title from last year, junior defensive end Rashad Weaver is not afraid to admit that he has some personal goals heading into the 2019 season.
“ACC Defensive Player of the Year is in my head,” Weaver said. “Some people may say it is crazy, I have 16 sacks in my head as my number. That is a sack a game, and two games with two sacks.”
Weaver believes that if he is able to accomplish the individual goals he has set for himself, it will only have a positive impact for the Panthers on the field.
“Sometimes people say it is not about personal goals, and I thought about that,” he said. “I feel like the goals that I have set for myself, that if I accomplish those it will help the team so much that we will get to where we need to be.”
Given the amount of snaps Weaver will be asked to play for Pitt this season, he thinks that his target of 16 sacks is reasonable and doable.
“One sack a game, that is your job as a defensive end,” he said. “Some people may say 16, no way, but I see that as just going to work every game. Only one sack, to me, doesn’t seem like a lot when you are playing 50 to 60 snaps.”
Head coach Pat Narduzzi is happy with Weaver’s progression since arriving as a freshman in 2016, and he expects him to improve even more this season.
“The expectations are for him to continue to get better just like anybody else,” Narduzzi said. “How has he changed? He has gotten bigger, stronger, more physical. You know, he has always been smart, but he has got a pretty good feel of the defense overall. I think he knows what the linebackers are doing. I think he knows how everybody fits. But his expectations are to lead, and to become even a better football player.”
Weaver had a break out year for the Panthers in 2018, leading the team with 6.5 sacks and 14 tackles-for-loss. He also forced two fumbles and recovered three.
Eight of the last ten players to win ACC Defensive Player of the Year have been pass rushers.
The only other Pitt player to win ACC DPOY was Aaron Donald in 2013.