Pat Yasinskas joined ESPN in January 2008 as the NFC South writer for ESPN.com’s NFL Nation blog network.
He previously covered the Carolina Panthers for the Charlotte Observer and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Tampa Tribune. In addition to following these teams, as well as the Saints and Falcons, in his current role, Yasinskas is providing scouting reports in the month ahead on the 12 NFL Draft prospects who are participating in the fourth installment of Jon Gruden’s QB Camp series.(Full QB Camp TV schedule.)
Yasinskas has attended several QB Camp film sessions in Gruden’s Tampa office (aka the F.F.C.A., or Fired Football Coaches Association), including Monday’s visit with All-America Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, a projected first-round pick. (The SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp: Manti Te’o episode will debut Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. ET.)
Yasinskas filed a recap of the Te’o visit for ESPN.com. Below he discusses with Front Row what he’s had the opportunity to observe at QB Camp this spring.
This is the first time you have covered Gruden’s QB Camp. What are your impressions so far?
It’s beyond what I expected. It’s fascinating. I’m blown away by what a big process it is. The half-hour shows with commercials are probably 23 minutes. They are doing four hours of film work and chalkboard work, and in some cases they are also doing an hour-long workout. What you see on TV is probably one-eighth of what goes on. Also, the preparation by Jon — he has so much film of each kid, as well as plays that are similar to the points he’s trying to make. He obviously spends days getting ready for each guy. And I can honestly say that from an X’s and O’s standpoint, I have learned more in these four sessions than I have in the 18 or 19 years that I’ve been covering the NFL.
What’s the reaction of the players when they come through QB Camp?
I’ve been surprised that everyone I’ve seen has been very relaxed. It’s amazing the comfort level that all of them have developed with Jon. None of them looks like a 22-year-old college kid who knows he’s on national TV. They look like they are just sitting there with a coach, chatting and breaking down film and drawing up plays. I’ve been very impressed with how I’ve seen the kids handle it.
What were your thoughts on Manti Te’o’s QB Camp?
It was all very smooth. He handled his situation very well. It was not dwelled upon; it was mentioned. The biggest thing that struck me on that part of it was that [Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker] Derrick Brooks was brought in for part of the show. Derrick basically said, “You’re going to get teased whatever locker room you go in. Be ready for that and you’ve got to be ready to laugh at yourself.” That seemed like very sound advice from a guy who’s going to be in the Hall of Fame and who knows how locker rooms work. Manti took it very well, just like he took every piece of advice from Derrick and Jon.
At the end, he had several questions for Jon which I hadn’t seen other players do. Usually Jon wraps things up, the players shake his hand and they go on. When they finished up, Manti had a couple more questions, mostly on technical stuff — X’s and O’s. He asked Jon those questions. He was very sharp not only on the off-field stuff, but the chalkboard stuff as well, and Jon seemed very impressed with him.
Follow Pat Yasinskas on Twitter: @espn_nfcsouth