Yesterday, I mentioned some breakout candidates for the Pitt Panthers football team this upcoming season. One guy I continued to tout was defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, who was previously a prized recruit that went to Tennessee and transferred to Pitt.
ESPN has been somewhat high on Hendrix in the past, calling him the team's 'X Factor' last year before he went down with an injury in the opening game. They're back on the Hendrix bandwagon again this season. In a short post of potential stat leaders in the ACC, the site thinks he could threaten for the league lead in sacks:
Ejuan Price (and his 13 sacks) are gone, and Pitt looks particularly thin up front. But Pat Narduzzi's defenses tend not to sit back and relax. They attack the QB, so someone is going to pick up the slack. That someone might as well be Hendrix, a talented defensive end who transferred in from Tennessee two years ago but has seen just one game of action since. An injury ended his 2016 campaign on the third series of the year, but he figures to be a starter from Day 1 again this season, and if he's healthy, Hendrix could easily join the ranks of Bradley Chubb, Harold Landry, Clelin Ferrell and the other top pass-rushers in the ACC.
I'm not sure I'm expecting that much out of Hendrix, although I've made it clear that I think he could be a breakout player. At this point, the biggest problem I have with a leap such as that is that it assumes Hendrix will have no problems after missing so much football.
He played for Tennessee as a true freshman in 2014, but only about half of the season. He didn't record a single statistic (i.e tackle) after the first half of the year. He then missed all of 2015 to transfer to Pitt. Last year, he was a starter but played only a few series in the opener before suffering a foot injury that kept him out the rest of the season. In short, when he takes the field this fall, it will have been almost three years since he played any meaningful ball.
Can a guy like that come in and produce right away? Absolutely. But missing so much time since 2014 is definitely something that could make him a slow starter. In addition, with the team missing pass-rush specialist Ejuan Price, it's not as if Hendrix won't see his fair share of attention from offensive lines.
I like Hendrix a lot. A double-digit sack season might be a bit too much to ask, though. What do you think?