Earlier in the week, we did a film room breakdown of Alex Highsmith’s spin move to beat Jedrick Wills for sack Monday night, one of two he had in the win. A move he’s worked on in his two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and one that’s been successful, especially against Wills.
Talking to reporters Friday, Highsmith explained how he practice and gotten good at the move.
“I’ve been working on since 2017,” he said via the team’s YouTube channel. “I think I remember it was the summer 2017. My freshman year of college, I think I only had like one or two sacks that year. So that was something that I wanted to get better at continue to get better at. That’s the year I started watching a lot of NFL film on my own time was in 2017. Watching guys like Von Miller and the Demarcus Lawrence, those guys who were great at the spin move, I was like, ‘okay, I wanna learn that.'”
So where does a college kid go to learn that stuff? The Internet. That’s where he found videos on how to execute the spin move.
“And so I looked up videos on how to do it. Guys like Chuck Smith had some good videos out there to learn how to do it. Just watching those and then just going out and practicing a while.”
Videos like this one are probably the ones Highsmith found that taught him the move. Smith is one of the best-known pass rush gurus who has worked with the likes of Bud Dupree and Cam Heyward during the offseason, offering individual training to help players improve their game. Highsmith learned from afar, and it’s helping him produce on Sundays (and Mondays).
But pulling up a YouTube clip doesn’t turn you into Dwight Freeney. It took plenty of practice, too.
“I would literally be walking around, spinning on air. People probably looked at me like I’m crazy but it helped me to be able to polish that move into what it is today. I can still continue to get better at it. Because there’s been times where I have been stopped at it. And so I just want to continue to work on it. I’ll continue to polish it throughout my career.”
Highsmith sits at six sacks this season, a respectable number considering T.J. Watt gobbles them up in bunches. Highsmith’s start to the season was a bit underwhelming, perhaps hampered by an early groin injury, but he’s come on strong to finish the year. Monday’s performance was arguably his best of the season, finishing with a career-high two sacks and showing backside pursuit in the run game.