While the NFL and college ball both fall into the category of the sport of football, there is a world of difference between the two.
Former Ball State offensive lineman Danny Pinter found that out soon after he became the 29th Cardinal drafted into the NFL when the Indianapolis Colts selected him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft last April.
“Every snap you take in practice will be equivalent to the hardest snap you took in college,” Pinter said.
Ball State offensive line coach Colin Johnson said he always knew Pinter had what it took to reach the professional level, and it was his job to help him get there. He knew he had to prepare him for the everyday challenges the NFL presents.
“In my short time with Danny, I knew from early on he had the ability and the desire to make it to the next level,” Johnson said. “My job was to help cultivate that and help him get as ready as possible to play at that level.”
Johnson said he is not surprised in the slightest Pinter made the Colts’ roster based on his contributions to Ball State Football.
“All that kid ever wanted was a chance and an opportunity, and he was going to take it and run with it,” Johnson said. “It is really exciting because I know how much it has meant to him to keep playing at the next level. He put so much into building this program into what it is now.”
Now that he is in the NFL, Pinter said there have been natural challenges like adjusting to the pace of play and playing new positions. Playing football is now Pinter’s job, which means every aspect of the game is taken more seriously.
“They say there is more of a business side, and that is definitely evident,” Pinter said. “Practices are a lot faster and a lot more physical. Everybody is a lot bigger, faster and stronger. I feel like I have adjusted well to that. The first couple of days were definitely an adjustment, but every day, I get more and more comfortable with it.”
Pinter played tight end and offensive tackle during his Ball State career, and the Colts are trying to get him more comfortable playing guard and center. Pinter said it has been new for him, especially against some of the best players in the world, but that is not stopping him from giving 100 percent.
“The first couple of weeks, they had me playing guard, which I have never done before,” Pinter said. “Combine that with playing my first snaps ever in the NFL with faster guys was an adjustment.”
The biggest reason for Pinter’s transition to the interior offensive line was because of his size and the length of his arms. Johnson said it was his job to instill that in Pinter early on because of how different the athletes are in the pros.
“I think Danny is a natural center, and I told him that when he was here because, in the NFL, the size of athletes you are blocking is much different than what you see at the college level,” Johnson said. “His arms weren’t as long as a typical tackle, so I planted that seed that center might be your position.”
Another big difference between the pros and college, Pinter said, is the amount of room for error. Luckily for Pinter, he is learning from members of last season’s third-ranked offensive line.
“You have to be super technically sound in all aspects,” Pinter said. “Guys like Ryan Kelly and Quenton Nelson are super technically sound, and while they preach that in college, you can kind of get away with it. The Xs and Os are more complex, so you have to be on top of your game there.”
To stay level-headed, Pinter said he tries to stay relaxed, continue to learn the team’s detailed game plan and consistently improve his craft.
“My goal is to come in every day and be the best player I can be,” Pinter said. “You can’t ever get caught up in your role, so I can only focus on getting better because there are a lot of things I need to get better at.”