After sitting out last season, Pitt fans are expecting Tennessee transfer defensive end Dewayne Hendrix to make a splash this year. Count ESPN.com among those that think he can be a big impact player as well.
The site assembled a list of six potential breakout candidates in the ACC on defense and Hendrix made their cut.
A transfer from Tennessee, Hendrix was forced to sit out last season under NCAA transfer rules. This year, however, he'll be a big part of what coach Pat Narduzzi believes can be one of the best defensive lines in the ACC. At 6-4, 270 pounds, Hendrix looks the part -- far more than his pass-rushing teammate Ejuan Price. More importantly, perhaps, he's proven exceedingly coachable. “For a younger guy,” Price said, “his willingness to learn is very strong. He's going to be a highly rated guy.” Narduzzi has worked to downplay the pressure on Hendrix to emerge immediately, but he said “there's no doubt about it” that Hendrix will make an impact this season. Add to that the fact that Narduzzi sees big gains from defensive tackles Shakir Soto (6-3, 295) and Tyrique Jarrett (6-3, 356), and the Panthers' line should be impressive.
To be honest, I don't know how much to expect from him. And penciling him in for a double-digit sack season without having even seen him play would be sort of ridiculous. But with all the hype surrounding him, it's almost getting to the point where not expecting him to be a breakout player puts you in the minority.
Pitt coaches continued to talk highly of Hendrix at training camp on Thursday and the gist of what defensive line coach Tom Sims said was that he's an incredibly hard worker.
Put that together with raw talent and ... well, you've got a breakout candidate.