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  04/24/21 - C Owen DrexelrSr/2023, Pittsburgh

  Among the program's 2021 NFL draft hopefuls, no one left Pitt with more career starts than center Jimmy Morrissey. No one was a two-year captain. No one was a back-to-back first-team All-ACC honoree. And no one, some would argue, embodied Pitt's program better, working his way up from walk-on status to a part of the Panthers' fabric. It's been a little weird for the players not having Morrissey around this spring. He's been in town training for the draft with Aaron Donald, Paris Ford and Dane Jackson. But he's not barking out calls, snapping to Kenny Pickett or leading the offensive line room. That responsibility is now on the shoulders of Owen Drexel. Drexel waited a while for this. For as long as Morrissey has been Pitt's first-team center - from the 2017 training camp announcement to his final game at Georgia Tech last December - Drexel has bided his time. The fifth-year senior took notes on his "older brother" Morrissey, and this camp, he's shown what he's learned.

"For me, it's the leadership vacancy...It's come really natural to me this spring, but it's been built over a long time, especially learning from a guy like Jimmy," Drexel said Thursday over Zoom. "I was watching him every day. The biggest thing from Jimmy was leading by example. It's watching the film, coming in after. When I was younger, I wouldn't spend the time I needed to here that I do now. I'm here all day, year round." His teammates have taken notice, too. Pickett half-joked at the start of spring camp that while he tried to convince Morrissey to come back for another year, Drexel "stepped up big" during winter workouts. Right guard Jake Kradel called him "a heck of a center." Offensive tackle Carter Warren said he's provided "great communication." Morrissey himself offered praise, claiming back in December that Drexel is a "top five center in the ACC." "He realizes that's his job now, and he wants to fill those shoes," head coach Pat Narduzzi added earlier this spring. "He's taken that over." - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

rSr/2023 C Owen DrexelPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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