New position, but same drive and focus for Ferry’s Neavin

Trent Neavin isn’t scared of hardwork.

The former Martins Ferry Purple Rider, who just wrapped up his freshman season with the University of Pittsburgh, knew what he was getting himself into when he made a decision to walk on at a FBS school.

Neavin has proven time and time again in the last few years that he knows what it takes to get the job done.

The Pitt coaching staff is starting to take notice of him, too.

“Coming into camp, some of the coaches didn’t even know my name,” Neavin admitted during a phone interview.

After coming off a tough senior season at Martins Ferry when he battled back from a torn achilles to spending most of this past season on the scout team, Neavin had some growing pains.

“The thought (of quitting the team) crossed my mind, but I didn’t want to be like that,” Neavin said. “A lot of the guys who were walking on went through the first day (of camp) and decided they just didn’t want to do it anymore and quit. I didn’t want to be that kind of guy. My mentality is to stick through this and one way or another, find a way to get on the field and play.”

Once he got through camp, Neavin became one of the Panthers’ most highly regarded scout team players, which has helped coaches learn his name.

“They definitely know my name now,” Neavin said. “I was one of the guys who would work at specific positions during the week. For instance, during Notre Dame week, I worked at tight end because they had a big guy, so I took his role.”

Neavin, who pointed out that major college football is basically like a full-time job, turned his work into the scout team into a positive.

“You realize that as a walk on, the scholarship guy in front of you is always going to get the chance,” Neavin said. “I looked at as an opportunity to play different positions and really try to impress the coaches with my work ethic.”

During the weeks leading up to the Navy and Georgia Tech games, Neavin was the scout team center.

Neavin arrived at Pitt as a fullback candidate, which is where he shined during his prep days for Dave Bruney.

Playing a variety of spots on the scout team has led to a position change for Neavin as he prepares for his first spring practice.

Neavin is shifting to defensive lineman after the coaching staff approached him about the possible change during the bowl practices.

“The younger guys were doing some scrimmaging at the end of a practice and I got thrown in there (at defensive tackle) and did pretty well,” Neavin said. “I guess I did a lot better than I thought because the coaches came up to me and asked if I’d be interested in moving positions.”

Neavin, who is home until classes begin later this month, will commence off-season strength conditioning and drills upon his arrival back to Pitt.

“I am definitely ready to get into those workouts,” Neavin said. “I want to continue to get faster and stronger, so I can see what I can do at those other positions. I can see myself contributing on special teams, but obviously you can’t guarantee anything.”

The Panthers closed out the 2013 season with a 30-27 victory against Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, at Ford Field in Detroit, last month.

The Panthers departed for Detroit on Dec. 23 to begin preparations for the game, which was staged the day after Christmas.

Despite missing out on the holiday with friends and family back in Martins Ferry, Neavin said the team had a Christmas dinner and enjoyed the holiday.

“Some of my best friends are on the team, so it wasn’t like you’re around a bunch of strangers,” Neavin said. “It was different being away (from home), but it’s fun being a grown up, too, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”

When you throw in the fact that the Panthers got their first bowl win of the Paul Chryst era, it was even more worth it.

“It was a fun trip,” Neavin said. “It was a great game and a great way to send out our seniors.”

The Panthers’ season was more of a roller coaster ride with plenty of peaks and valleys, but Neavin believes the win against Notre Dame at Heinz Field was certainly the biggest.

“We had some high expectations, but we suffered a couple of tough losses,” Neavin admitted. “The Navy game was a tough one, but it was good to end on a good note. No one wanted (the season) to end like the last two or three years. We’re losing a good senior class, but I think we’re only going to get better.”

The bowl game was the only road trip Neavin made. None of the walk on candidates dressed for the road games. He did dress for all of the Panthers’ home games.

Neavin, who only got to see the Purple Riders play once against Bellaire, had a strong first semester in the classroom.

Still undecided about his major, but leaning toward engineering, Neavin carried a 3.14 grade point.