Shayne Hale says it hasn't too frustrating having to wait his turn. He came to Pitt as a linebacker, where he redshirted as a freshman in 2008. The opportunity seemed to be wide-open at linebacker, with the graduation of Scott McKillop following that season.
Instead, Hale was moved to the defensive line, defensive end, where he would have to battle for reps behind players like Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard. He says he welcomed the move after playing in four games a senior at Gateway at defensive end.
In the three seasons since, Hale has played a total of ten games. As his final spring in a Pitt uniform comes to an end, Hale finds himself working in with the first-team at defensive end—his best shot to get in the starting lineup, especially with the need for two new starters this year.
Hale welcomes this latest coaching change, citing more of a comfort zone as a 4-3 end.
"Everything feels back to normal and everything," Hale said. "It feels good. Anywhere they'll play me. I'm a football player. If coach says they need you here, I'll learn it, work my best at it, help the team out."
Despite not playing in many games, he credits the fact of becoming older with learning how to accept and deal with the situation.
"I think the older you get, you see different guys--Jabaal Sheard, Greg Romeus--you see a lot of different things and learn from a lot of different coaches," Hale said. "As you get older, you get more wiser. I feel I've grown at the position, things have gotten better for me and I'm starting to show a little bit more.
"Definitely it was a frustration, but the thing I had to say to myself is if you keep working hard, your time will come. Just keep working hard and keep playing."
Hale is now getting some first-team reps at defensive end. This after last spring, where he took some first-team reps as a standing defensive end. One thing helping him is new defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield. Despite now having his third position coach in three years, he's gotten a lot out of Breckterfield so far.
"We're just trying to play to the level he wants us at and do the things he asks," Hale said. "He's not asking for much. He's just asking for us to be better. It's working for our favor.
"He's definitely a high-energy guy. He'll let you know. The I love about Coach, and these coaches around, is he'll tell you like it is. That's all you want as a player--what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong as a player. They definitely point those things out for you to work on, and it will definitely help you out in the long run."
Despite all the waiting coming down to one last season, Hale said he doesn't regret his choice of coming to Pitt. He's eager for camp to get here in August, but at the same time wants it to go slowly so he can enjoy each minute of it.
"It's still been great," Hale adds. "I never let anything get me down. I still come, I still play. It's all about the mindset regardless of what happens. You're still a football player. I still have an education to get. Football has been great for me here, no complaints. I just came in with an open mind and the younger guys, still staying focused and do what I do, and that's just work.
"The last year, this thing flew. I remember coming in as a freshman. It's definitely moving fast. This spring is definitely moving fast. I'm going to take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Hopefully this thing drags out so I can learn as much as I can and get as better as I can."