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Giants getting the leader of Pittsburgh's Mud Gang

Posted May 3, 2017

Pittsburgh offensive line coach John Peterson discusses his former player, sixth-round pick Adam Bisnowaty:  

The O.G. Mud Gang needs a new leader. Its founder just got drafted.


On Saturday, the New York Giants traded with the Tennessee Titans to move up seven spots to select Pitt offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty. They gave the Titans their sixth-round and seventh-round selections to obtain the 200th overall pick. If nothing else, Bisnowaty, shortened to Biz for those who know him, will bring toughness to the trenches.

“He takes a lot of pride in being a tough guy from Pittsburgh and playing at Pitt,” Panthers offensive line coach John Peterson said on Giants.com’s Big Blue Kickoff Live. “He was a leader in our room, and he nicknamed the group the ‘O.G. Mud Gang.’ He likes to get in the mud and play in the trenches and play physical football.”

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Picking up first-team All-ACC accolades for the second consecutive season, Bisnowaty started all 13 games at left tackle in his senior year and finished his career with 43 starts in 45 total games played. Last year, Pitt was the only school to have wins over two teams that finished in the top five of the final College Football Playoff rankings.

The Panthers gave No. 2 Clemson, the eventual national champion, its only loss and defeated in-state rival Penn State, which went on to win the Big Ten title and finish fifth in the CFP rankings. The Panthers ran for 341 yards and three touchdowns on the Nittany Lions that day and finished tied for ninth in the nation with 36 scores on the ground for the year.

“The thing that jumps out is he’s a consistent player,” Peterson said. “He prepared every week, and every game was a championship game to him. So the Penn State game was a fun one. Obviously Clemson was a fun game too. A lot of good memories and a lot of things he did a great job of here at Pitt.”

Bisnowaty’s Mud Gang also helped pave the way for running back James Conner, who last year made the journey back to the field after enduring a season-ending knee injury followed by a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

After setting Pitt’s single-season records for total touchdowns (26) in 2014, Conner returned in 2016 to earn first-team All-ACC honors and finish as the conference’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (52) and total touchdowns (56). Conner was drafted in the third round by the Steelers, whom Bisnowaty and the Giants will see in the first game of the preseason.  

What makes those numbers even more remarkable is that Pitt went through three head coaches and three different offensive coordinators from the time Bisnowaty was recruited.

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“I think the diversity and what he’s been exposed to from the different style of run games, he’s adapted well, whether it’s a zone scheme or a gap scheme,” Peterson said. “He understands the details of everything and was able to adapt extremely well into all the systems.”

Peterson added, “Biz is a very hungry person when it comes to knowledge and learning. He’s always been a very professional college student when it comes to his daily preparation and loves to study the game. He’s an information seeker. He wants to know everything about a play and all the details of everything. For a young guy who’s transitioned through multiple offensive coordinators, he adapted very well to every scheme we’ve used.”

Bisnowaty isn’t the first player Peterson has passed along to the Giants.

Peterson was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Ohio State when Jake Ballard latched onto the Giants as an undrafted rookie in 2010. A year later, he started 13 games for the Giants and caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns en route to the NFC East title.

Ballard also started all four of the Giants’ postseason games, including their victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. In that game, Ballard injured his knee – it was later discovered to be a torn ACL -- and was famously caught on camera trying to run on the sidelines in an unsuccessful attempt to return to action.

“Jake had a tremendous career there that was fun to watch from a distance,” Peterson said. “I still have a great relationship with Jake, and Jimmy Cordle (another undrafted Buckeye and member of the 2011 championship team) I know was a part of that. So I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of good players, and Biz is right up there with them.”