The technique required to survive on a collegiate offensive line – plus the playbook and coaches’ expectations – were more complex than anything he encountered at Fox Chapel Area High School.
Yet, those aspects of the game were the least of his concerns. Line coach Jim Hueber can teach Bisnowaty how to handle big, quick speed rushers. He leaves no doubt about what is expected of the young man.
What Bisnowaty needed to do on his own was gain weight. His freshman weight of 270 pounds wasn’t acceptable.
So, he found himself in two rooms more than any other: the weight room and cafeteria.
âœI eat everything,â said the 6-foot-6 Bisnowaty, who packed on 35 pounds in a year, but still is looking to reach 315 in time for summer camp in five months.
Eating as many as five meals a day sounds like fun for a 19-year-old, but Bisnowaty said it can be more of a chore than practice or weightlifting.
“At some point, it’s like, I’m sick of eating,” he said. ‘You sit down (and say), I don’t even want to eat.’ But you throw it in your mouth just to gain weight. You have to do what you have to do.”
An extra meal or two per day is a small price to pay for Bisnowaty, who has seized the job at offensive left tackle during Pitt’s spring drills. Coaches are hoping Bisnowaty maintains his hold on the position, with the line in a complete state of flux.
Every spot on the first team is manned by a player who was doing something else last season.
Bisnowaty and center Gabe Roberts were redshirted, while guards Cory King and Matt Rotheram played tackle. Juantez Hollins, who sat out with a suspension, and former defensive end T.J. Clemmings are sharing snaps at right tackle.
“T.J., he has some minutes where he’s wondered what happened to him,” Hueber said of Clemmings’ transition from defense. “But he’s into it. I’m glad he’s with us.”
On the other left side of the line, Bisnowaty offers hope.
“He doesn’t get flustered,” Hueber said. “We’ll see, but right now you have to think that he’s going to get out there and play football the way we expect him to.”
Bisnowaty said sitting out a season and learning from graduated seniors Ryan Turnley and Chris Jacobson did him a lot of good.
“I really enjoyed it,â he said. âœI got stronger, gained weight. The redshirt year really helped me do that and focus on football and get my footwork down, so this year I can get some playing time.”
He shared a room with Jacobson, who taught him how to transition from high school.
“You’re the best when you’re in high school,” Bisnowaty said. “Now you get here and everyone is the best.”
Bisnowaty isn’t responsible for recent failures at Pitt, but he said it’s about time that changed.
“We have to start building this thing up to what we want and start winning,” he said. “We really don’t want any more 6-6 seasons.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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