The transformation of Danny Pinter has an intriguing backstory. Arriving at Ball State as a tight end, Pinter quickly earned the starting job and was off to a fast start until a left foot injury ended his season prematurely in 2017. Over Christmas break that year, Pinter would gain 50 pounds while living back home with his folks. When he returned the following season, he would find himself atop the depth chart — at right tackle. Since then, the South Bend native has started the past two seasons (24 games) at tackle, while garnering the attention of NFL scouts with his footwork, hand usage and ability to finish.
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? When did you begin playing football and when did you realize that you have a passion for the game of football?
I’m from South Bend, Indiana. I began playing football with friends when I was younger but have been playing organized football since the fifth grade. I truly realized I had a passion for football when I went to a Bears-Packers game in the fourth grade at Lambeau Field. The atmosphere and environment surrounding the game immediately made me fall in love with every aspect of the game. When I started playing organized football the next year, I knew it was what I loved to do.
When a NFL scout pops in your game film, what type of player should they expect to see?
They should see a high motor and strong effort for all four quarters. I pride myself on playing to the whistle every play, and it is something we as a team put a strong emphasis on. I try and play the game as physical as I can, and my goal is to always be more physical than my opponent. I believe I have good athleticism for being a lineman and try to use that to my advantage. I know I have plenty of areas to improve in my game and am excited to have the opportunity to continue to work on those.
What was your offseason like heading into 2019 and what areas of your game did you work on to improve upon?
I have only been a tackle for two years, so first, I wanted to get a lot stronger in the weight room. We have a great strength program and they helped me to do that. I also wanted to work on improving my footwork, particularly in the run game so that I could put myself in better position. However, I would say I mostly worked on pass pro, and trying to make that as natural as possible, I emphasized my feet and hands a lot. I feel like my hands in pass pro is the biggest thing I am continuing to work on.
What type of leadership intangibles do you bring to the table? Explain your leadership style.
I like to lead by example first, but also will get vocal when I need to. Throughout my five years at Ball State, we really were working through turning a program around, and there were several of us seniors who really took pride in taking over the leadership aspect of that turnaround. It was a cool process and while the win/losses weren’t were we wanted it to be, I think from my freshman year to now, there have been huge turnarounds that have put Ball State in a good position going forward. I personally learned a lot about leadership during that process, especially connected with all different types of teammates and motivating people through my own actions.
Name a point during your college career when you had to overcome adversity. What did you learn from that experience?
The biggest adversity for me was being a part of that turnaround. Particularly in 2017, we had an abundant amount of injuries and were losing games by 30-plus points every week. I got hurt halfway through and missed the rest of the season. It was a hard time because I couldn’t play, but I also was a leader on a struggling team and had to continue to push through and be a leader every day. We had lots of people who left the program out of frustration, but a group of us in my class chose to stay and do everything we could to turn things around. I learned about the power of pushing through and staying positive/together through hard times. I think that year changed a lot about myself and our program and we vowed to never get back to a year like that through hard work.
What was it like growing up in your hometown? Did you live any other places?
I’ve lived in South Bend my whole life. I love it there. Although I was not a big Notre Dame fan, growing up with that football program in your hometown was a really cool experience and definitely helped grow my love for football. Every weekend, the whole city centers around Notre Dame football and I went to a lot of really cool college football matchups growing up.
Who has been the toughest opponent you have faced thus far in your career, either overall team or an individual? How did you fare?
We actually played Notre Dame in South Bend in 2018. It was the second game of the year and they were ranked No. 8 in the country, coming off a win against Michigan. I also went against Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem the whole game. I think I fared pretty well and held my own. It was only my second ever game playing tackle, so I would have loved the opportunity to play them again with more experience under my belt. As a team, we took them down to the wire and ended up losing 24-16. It’s still frustrating to look back on because we played our hearts out and I feel like we were very close to winning the game.
What is something people might not know about you or something that separates you from other players?
I think my path to and through Ball State is unique. Ball State was my only D-1 offer and it came two weeks before Signing Day because one of their tight ends had quit. I was committed to a D-2 school before. In addition, I came in as a tight end and played it for three years, being a starter as well. The next year, my coaches asked me to transition to tackle and I added 50 pounds to do so. I also will have earned a Master’s degree by the end of the spring. I’m very thankful for my time and experience at Ball State.
If you could bring one teammate with you, who would you bring?
If I could bring one teammate with me, I would bring our linebacker Jacob White. He is also looking to continue playing at the next level. He and I were leaders of the offense and defense and were always pushing each other. He is by far the hardest-working teammate I have ever had, and a very productive player as well. He is two-time All-Conference and a team captain for three years. I loved playing with him and being on his team, he’s exactly the type of player you would want on your team. I know whatever team takes a chance on him will be getting a steal.
*The ninth annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will be held on Saturday, January 18th at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Be sure to tune in on NFL Network at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST!