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DE Josh Pinnick article

Pinnick tackles leadership role
By Marcus Nelson

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

BOCA RATON ? The Florida Atlantic defensive coaching staff picks players who can be an extra set of eyes on the practice field to be "observers."

When he's selected for the honor, defensive end Josh Pinnick does more than just observe.

Just listen as Pinnick bellows across the field at a linebacker in the wrong place during practice.

On a defense that lost eight starters to graduation, including linebacker and vocal leader Chris Laskowski, Pinnick seems ready to take on more responsibility despite being just a sophomore.

"With the loss of the guys that graduated, I felt it's my time to teach these younger guys how to play the game," Pinnick said. "If being vocal helps do that, that's what I am going to do."

The emotional Pinnick isn't shy about bringing a teammate down a notch or giving him a pat on the back after a good play.

"He's a hard worker, diligent trainer, loves football and this football team," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "It's good that he encourages others to follow in his footsteps."

And woe is the player who doesn't match Pinnick's intensity.

"I want them to feel the same passion I have for this game," Pinnick said. "The most important thing to me is to play with heart. If you do that, it will make up for a lot of differences. Some people can be athletic, but if you don't have it in your heart, it's not going to happen for you out here."

Teammates know not to draw the ire of the player they call "Pinhead."

"He loves practice and he's exactly what we need," freshman defensive tackle Jervonte Jackson said. "This is my first time touching the field, and he makes sure we all know what's going on out there."

The FAU coaching staff didn't need to prod Pinnick to take on a leadership role this season, even though Pinnick still is learning himself.

"He's the guy with the most experience, so we like to see him take that initiative," FAU defensive ends coach Christ Vagotis said.

Pinnick doesn't possess great speed or size ? at 6-feet-5 and 235 pounds, he'll be at a size disadvantage in most of FAU's games this season. Still, Pinnick has the potential to be a mainstay on defense for the next two years.

"He's not a dominant player, but he's a good player and is going to become a better player as time goes on," Schnellenberger said.

Pinnick played in every game last season, but started only the Owls' victory against Edward Waters after the seniors skipped a practice.

It's unlikely a similar stunt will be tried while Pinnick is on the team.

"He has a fast motor, he runs to the ball, but most important, he's a great example to all the young guys," Vagotis said.

Noteworthy: Senior quarterback Danny Embick was selected the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns against Kansas in his first full game. It was the first time an FAU player was eligible for the award…. Fullback Aaron Sanchez dressed for Monday's practice but still is being limited by a sore quadriceps muscle.

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