Former walk-on O-lineman carves out role for Temple football

Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi gets in his stance during practice at Chodoff Field on March 17. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Chris Wiesehan knew redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi had potential from the moment he saw him in a high school hallway in May 2016.

The Owls’ offensive line coach was immediately intrigued by Picozzi’s 6-foot-4-inch frame.

When Wiesehan met Picozzi at Lansdale Catholic High School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, he convinced him to attend a football camp.

Picozzi intended to enroll at the Lawrenceville School, a preparatory school in New Jersey, but he decided to walk on to Temple’s roster after he attended the camp.

Wiesehan said Piccozzi’s measurables and results in the 40-yard dash and high jump during the camp were impressive.

“I thought that would be better for me than going to a private school and possibly losing a year of eligibility or anything like that, so I decided to come here,” Picozzi said. “And I think that it’s turned out very well for me.”

Picozzi played in 10 games and made six starts last season, including his first in a 34-10 victory against East Carolina on Oct. 7. He made all six of his starts at left guard in place of redshirt-junior offensive lineman Jovahn Fair, who suffered an injury during Temple’s 29-21 win against UMass on Sept. 15.

After last season, the Owls also lost former offensive linemen Brian Carter and Adrian Sullivan, who combined for 15 starts in 2017, to graduation. Picozzi, Fair and redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Matt Hennessy are expected to be the starters on the interior offensive line heading into the 2018 season.

“Those three inside are as good as anybody that are going to play in our conference,” offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. “They’re smart, they’re tough and they understand what to do. And they do a great job of communicating.”

Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi practices at Chodoff Field on March 17. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Before Picozzi started games last season, he needed to increase his weight.

Wiesehan compared Piccozzi’s ability to put on weight to former offensive lineman Cole Boozer’s transition from tight end to offensive lineman. During his redshirt-junior season in 2016, Boozer added 30 pounds to his frame. He started every game at right tackle for the Owls last season.

When Picozzi graduated high school, he said he weighed about 260 pounds. He bumped up his weight to 300 pounds before the start of the 2017 season.

“[Picozzi] got here as this smaller guy, really athletic, really tough and now he’s put the weight on and now he’s a really powerful guy as well,” Hennessy said. “He’s the real deal.”

Picozzi and Hennessy each woke up at 5 a.m. prior to spring football practices last year to lift weights. The two also drank protein shakes and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after every practice.

“It was just food, food, food, food all last spring and working out and getting that extra lift in,” Picozzi said. “And I think it really paid off for both of us. We both really got our weight up. And we’re both doing pretty good.”

As Picozzi prioritized adding weight, he also had to maintain his athleticism at 300 pounds.

Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Freddie Booth-Lloyd lines up against Picozzi in the trenches during practice. He’s taken notice of Picozzi’s improvements on the offensive line.

“Now that he has his weight, he’s a little more powerful,” Booth-Lloyd said. “All that together with his speed and his hand speed and everything, all his toolkit, he’s doing good. And I’m very impressed with what he has become today.”

Tom Ignudo
can be reached at thomas.ignudo@temple.edu Or you can follow Tom on Twitter @TomIgnudo Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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