Todd Grantham and Sal Sunseri have been around the block a time or two. Combined the duo has collected more than 65 years of coaching experience, including 18 years in the National Football League.
That’s a lot of knowledge the two possess and their list of past-coached players could fill a NFL Pro Bowl roster. Both coaches have gone on record stating they think they have talented players — enough to be three-deep at every position. Talent and athleticism aren’t the issue. The two veteran coaches are trying to instill the little things off the field. The kind of studying and attention to detail that makes a good player great and turns a great player into one that can make a living playing football for years.
It starts in the film room.
“The bottom line is you gotta teach them how to watch tape, you gotta teach them how to study, you gotta tell them exactly how to get aligned; what their key is, what the progression is, and go through it,” Sunseri said. “He’s gotta know how to do it, when to do it, and why he’s doing it. So if you handle those three things and all that, the kid’s gonna say “okay I see why coach wants me to do that.” Anytime the kid does it and there’s success on the field he’s like “this coach might know that the hell he’s talking about.”
That goes for any young player. Most elite athletes can get away on their god given ability and athleticism in high school. Some come to college and the technique and fundamentals that coaches are preaching are like a brand new language to them. Sunseri makes sure that his players know what they do off the field in the film room is just as, if not more important than what they do on the field during practice. It’s a process to hammer home the importance of film but one that Sunseri is committed to.
“We got to show them stuff, because we both have very fortunate, we’ve been in the National Football League. When you’re in the National Football League, you sit there from 7 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night and all you do is watch tape,” Sunseri said. “You pick out guys and tell them, OK can get a run-pass read off of this, you can do that. So we’re teaching them how to look at a player based on their stance, based on what they’re doing, so we’re teaching them.”
It isn’t only limited to the time that the whole defensive line is meeting with Sunseri, either. The coach of more than three decades has an open door policy and he encourages players to come to his office. That’s become a daily routine for a lot of the players and Sunseri will go over film, hand placement, scheme specific assignments among other finer details of the game.
His experience is paying off in spades for a defensive line that will rival running back as the deepest unit on the field.