As the pass rusher opposite T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith’s second season does not jump off the stat sheet in terms of sacks. The Charlotte product only has six sacks, but his quarterback hits and pressures are among top for any outside linebacker in the NFL.
Going up against one of the promising left tackles in the NFL Monday night in Jedrick Wills, Highsmith certainly had his work cut out for him. However, with two sacks and five pressures, it is easy to say Highsmith won the battle on the night. One of his most lethal moves, his spin move, helped aid him on two pressures and a sack on the night.
However, not every origin story for a new pass rush being developed is the same. For Highsmith, it involved inspiration, spinning on-air, and crafting the move perfectly, even to the present day.
“I’ve been working on it since 2017,” Highsmith said. “I remember it was the summer of 2017, and in my freshman year of college I had one or two sacks. So, my pass-rushing production was something I wanted to work on. I remember watching film and watching guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware prepare the spin move, I wanted to do that. So, I looked up how to do it from guys like Chuck Smith on how to do it. Watching that and then going out to do it. Like, I would literally walk around and spin on air and people would look at me like I’m crazy. But it helped me polish that move into what it is today and I’m still continuing to get better at it because I have been stopped at it at times.”
That is still not the end of what Highsmith will do with the spin move, though. His pass rush moves are ever-evolving and while he becomes more confident in the move by the day, he is always looking for new and different wrinkles to add to it at any time.
“Adding those new pass rush moves, it’s all about trusting yourself and knowing you can execute that,” Highsmith said. “If you’re going to go out there and only go half-effort with it and not full forward with it, then it’s not going to work. The spin is something I’ve worked on to where I have immense confidence in it. It’s continuous repetition to gain confidence in yourself.”
Highsmith may want to see the sack production go up in Year 3, but make no mistake about it, his breakout campaign this year has been very real. The pressure stat certainly indicates that, and as Highsmith polishes his game up, even more, he should see himself take off even more as well.