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Don’t Forget About Slimmed-Down Deandre Jules on the Defensive Line



Deandre Jules was listed at 220 pounds when he committed to Pitt out of Northwest High in Maryland, but that was nearly 100 pounds ago. And just over five years ago.

He’s played in 25 games over the last three seasons — after redshirting as a freshman in 2019 — as a sparingly used defensive tackle and special teamer. But he’s been able to show Randy Bates and the coaching staff a whole new side of himself over the course of the offseason.

“Deandre has lost a bunch of weight,” Bates said after practice on Wednesday. “He’s still a monster size-wise, and he has figured it out. He’s really hard to block and way more athletic now. He’s moving as good as he’s ever moved, and he’ll play a lot of ball for us.”

Pitt lists Jules at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds this summer, but he’s likely closer to 300 pounds as it stands at this point in camp. He’s still huge, and he feels like he’s finally able to blend the mental side of his game with his physical traits.

“I feel like my game mentally has really emerged,” Jules said earlier this month. “I know the playbook way better, I’m bigger, obviously, than I was in 2020. I believe that I’m much faster. So, I guess you guys will see this season how my game has come over the years.”

Jules first emerged in Pitt’s 31-19 loss to Miami in 2020, racking up three tackles (two solo), 1.5 tackles for loss and a half sack as a redshirt freshman, but he hasn’t been able to sustain that level of production over the course of his career in Pittsburgh — not until the very end of the 2022 season, that is.

In wins over Miami (coincidentally) and UCLA to end the season, Jules recorded three tackle (two solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack — stepping up into the rotation as Pitt’s veteran lineup opted out and prepared for the NFL Draft.

In 144 defensive snaps last season, including 42 against Miami and UCLA, Jules graded out as one of Pitt’s better tacklers. PFF credits him with seven run stops — to go along with three quarterback hurries, two sacks and a hurry. In 12 games, he recorded five tackles (three solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

With 298 career defensive snaps under his belt, at least 75 in each of his past three seasons, he has experience in the experience. And Pat Narduzzi is finally seeing him string together consistent play on the field day after day — praising Jules’ effort and consistency throughout summer camp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

“Our room is pretty deep right now, but it never stops motivating me to keep getting better every day,” Jules said. “We’ve got great guys like D-Green, T-Bent, Devin Danielson, we’ve got a lot of vets in the room, so we’ve just gotta come out every day in practice and get better.”

When Narduzzi touched upon the consistency he’s seen from the defensive linemen unit, he mentioned five names. Jules, David Green, Devin Danielson, Tyler Bentley and Sean FitzSimmons. It’s a fivesome that will be relied upon heavily. Green and Danielson may be the vocal leaders of the unit, but Jules is finding his own ways to lead, too.

“My leadership style is I kinda just do it,” Jules said. “I don’t speak too much, then (Green, Danielson and Nate Temple are) more vocal. They like to express their emotions.”

It’s been a process for Jules that has only gotten stronger since the spring when Charlie Partridge said that Jules was putting together his strongest spring session since arriving in Pittsburgh. He’s a load on the inside. Just ask Ryan Baer, who is matching up with Jules on the inside nearly every practice.

“Deandre Jules has been having a really good camp, and he’s been fun to battle against,” Baer said after practice Thursday.

It will be tough to replace Calijah Kancey inside, but Jules had a front row seat to watch Kancey’s ascent within Pitt’s defense from Day 1. He learned a lot watching Kancey over the last few seasons, but he doesn’t feel the need to be the next Kancey — just be himself.

“Calijah’s a great guy, amazing player, explosive, fast, all the above, so there’s definitely a lot of pressure coming in this year, even though he was a first rounder, but it’s nothing, I’ll do it,” Jules said.

When it comes to the 2023 season, aside from getting the chance to showcase the development that he’s undergone throughout the entire offseason, Jules has team-based goals in mind.

“More playing time,” Jules said. “Hopefully, I get a chance to start this year. ACC championship, natty obviously but that’s really it.”

As Jules enters his fifth season at Pitt, playing sparingly over the first four seasons, he has high hopes for perhaps his last season in Pittsburgh. He wants to show that he’s a great defensive lineman — a Pitt defensive lineman.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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