July 20, 2011

Coach talks new VT pledge Conte

Potential is a key word with regards to new Hokie commitment Augie Conte from Powhatan (Va.) Blessed Sacrament Huguenot. In an effort to find out more about Virginia Tech's newest addition, Hokiehaven.com caught up with his head coach for a detailed discussion.

"Augie is a very intense individual," Blessed Sacrament Huguenot head coach Mike Henderson said. "He is raw, but I think he's got a tremendous amount of a potential.

"He's 6-foot-6, 270-pounds and runs very well. He's got room to grow and can be 315-pounds. He's very athletic and he's definitely grown by leaps and bounds as he gets more experience. He did start playing football pretty late, but as far as potential goes, he's top notch."

According to Henderson, there are two key factors at play with regards to what sticks out about Conte's ability right now.

"I think he's got really good footwork for the limited amount of passing our team does and the limited amount of experience he has," he said. "He has done really well in these combines and against some of these speed rushers. It helps he's got those extremely long arms and his strength is increasing in his lower body.

"He's always been a workout warrior, but he's benching 370 up top now, that's pretty good. With strong footwork too, that's what you're looking for in an offensive tackle."

Part of Conte's evolution in the past year since joining Huguenot has been in part due to his time working with current Pittsburgh Steeler lineman Kyle Jolly.

"He's been working out with Kyle Jolly since the spring doing pass protection," he said. "They are working a couple days a week on his footwork and they've been doing great.

"I think he's seen a big improvement not only with that, but also with our speed and agility program. Being around Kyle, he's lifting more, he's always lifted even when he was a young kid, but the thing is now it's being in a program. He's improving so much because of his work ethic, he works so hard at everything he does."

That attitude doesn't only stay on the field though as he's a model student and person off of it too.

"It's not unusual for us to get home school kids, but he was able to step right in and get with the guys with no problem. It was not much of a transition," he said. "In the classroom, he's got a 3.8 GPA and he's a smart kid. He works hard in the classroom and you don't have any problems with him. He's a disciplined individual.

"He's a yes sir, no sir kind of guy. He looks you in the eye and is a very structured, very disciplined individual.

"And more than that, I just think he's the kind of guy you love having as a coach. He's just absorbing knowledge, soaking it in and he loves the game. He'll go above and beyond. He'll watch film at lunch instead of going into the cafeteria. He's always in the front, learning, listening what coaches do and that even carries to his studies. His grades are good, but he wants to get an even higher SAT.

"The biggest thing with him is you'd describe him as goal oriented or goal driven. He came here with a goal to get a college scholarship. He strives and will do it. You love to have him and you want him on your team."

Having coached Jolly before, Henderson understands what it takes to play at the next level and reflected on how Conte compares at this stage.

"Kyle played football his whole life, but athletically speaking they are very similar, Kyle is just a hair quicker and stronger, but both are very natural athletically and powerful," he said. "Augie is not quite as experienced, but that's still a pretty good comparison to an NFL player. There is not a big difference in drive, athleticism, they are pretty similar."

Certainly Conte is still learning and improving, but Henderson believes in time he'll evolve further as a player.

"Where his weakness is right now is just knowing what exactly he needs to do, gap protection, reacting, you get that with game experience," he said. "It's not a weakness as the strength is there and the speed is there, the intensity is there, he's got all that stuff to take his game to the next level, it's just the experience now."

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