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  A 4-2-5 system under first-year Charlotte 49ers (5-7 overall last season; 4-4 Conference USA) coach Will Healy allows the senior defensive end to focus on pass rush, improving his sack statistics. Highsmith, whose three sacks last season were tied for second on the team, broke Charlotte's single-season record of 17.5 tackles for loss, and finished with 60 total tackles and a team-high eight quarterback hurries. Highsmith is one of three 49ers to earn preseason all-conference recognition along with senior running back Benny LeMay and sophomore kicker Jonathan Cruz, who was voted special teams player of the year. "I can tell you, they're gonna go up for sure," Highsmith said. "Coach Healy did a great job in hiring a great D-line coach in Marcus West. Coach West has been such a blessing to me and helping me improve my pass rush game. He's taught me so many moves, and so many little detail things that can help take my pass rush to the next level. Exciting to play a true defensive end this year, and really getting at the quarterback this year." Highsmith, who is from Wilmington, joined the program as a walk-on and eventually earned a scholarship in 2017. Count Healy among the impressed.

"What a great college football story," Healy said. "You're talking about a guy who walked on here, who now is preseason all-conference, has got some All-American type hype around him and he lives up to it. He is a self-made great football player that I know Marcus West has had a ton of fun coaching. I think he's dynamic. I think he rushes the passer really well. He's strong. He's physical. You hope your best players are also your best leaders, and he's definitely that." - Charlotte Observer

(DS#12 DE) rSr/2020 DE Alex HighsmithCharlotte
News Source: Charlotte Observer



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