Pinckney came up big against Alabama on the fake field goal
Pinckney came up big against Alabama on the fake field goal

New voice on the defensive line: Nyles Pinckney steps into leadership role

by - Staff Writer -

After having offseason surgery, Nyles Pinckney was sidelined for spring practice, but the redshirt junior defensive tackle didn’t let the time go to waste.

While the Beaufort (SC) native wasn’t able to hone in his technique, he spent plenty of time learning how to be a leader off the field and learning the mental side of his position.

“It helped me in my leadership role. I was able to coach because if you're able to coach, that makes you better as a player because you know what you're doing, Pinckney said after Friday’s start to fall camp. “You just have to add the technique to it. It helped me as a leader to let the guys know that I know what's going on even though I'm not practicing so even when they're not in there, they're paying attention.”

For Pinckney, communication is key to being a good leader on and off the field.

“I feel like communication outside of football,” Pinckney said. “When we're outside of football, at dinner or lunch, we sit together. We don't just talk about football because you need to get to know your teammates, especially the freshmen because a lot of those guys just got here in the summer. I want to get to know them as people, not just football players because these will be friends for years down the run. Hopefully, when we go on a run for another national championship, we can talk about that down the road.”

Being a vocal leader doesn’t always come naturally, but Pinckney was able to learn important lessons from those who came before him, especially guys like Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence.

“I learned about putting in the extra and never having a bad day,” he said. “If you're having a bad day, be able to bounce back from it the next day and be positive. If you're having a bad day, don't take it out on your teammates and be negative. Pick them up and try to pick yourself up.”

With the dog days of summer camp, Pinckney and fellow defensive tackle Jordan Williams know it can’t be business all of the time.

“We like to take them to watch film. Sometimes we like to joke,” he said. “We don't keep it serious because we don't want them to think we're just hard on them all of the time. We want them to have a little bit of fun because this is camp and some days it's going to be hard. We just want to let them know to keep pushing and have fun.”

Pinckney and Williams’ job is a little bit easier because young players like Tyler Davis, Etinosa Reuben and Ruke Orhorhoro are already showing a lot of maturity.

“When they first got here there was a lot of deer in the headlights but as time went on, they started to pick up technique,” he said. “In the summer, I saw a big growth and jump strength-wise, conditioning. Some guys, if there was a tough day, they picked each other up. They just stayed on top of it. I didn't really push them because they just pushed themselves.”

Pinckney has also spent the summer getting back into shape after being limited for so long due to pectoral surgery.

“Not being able to run, I felt kind of heavy so over the summer I needed to change my body and lose weight,” he said. “It's a little adjustment. I feel lighter and quicker but also I need to make sure I keep my strength at the same time. The goal is to play the season at 290 but if I feel like I need to gain a little weight to get my strength up, I feel like I can do that also.”

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