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Colts DL coach Charlie Partridge on leaving Pitt, coaching Laiatu Latu and praising Matt Goncalves

Partridge joined the Colts' coaching staff earlier this year after a lengthy and successful run as a position coach, coordinator and head coach at the college level. 

Charlie Partridge

Charlie Partridge had a few opportunities over the years to make the jump from college to the pros – including one overture a few years back from the Colts.

But for the longtime college defensive line coach, who also spent time as a coordinator and head coach, the time and opportunity were never both right. Partridge spent the last seven years at Pitt, but after the 2023 season, the time and opportunity both aligned for him to go to the NFL – specifically, with the Colts.

"I love college football. Still do. I absolutely love it," Partridge said. "The reality is there's a point in your career where you want different challenges. I think the world of Pitt, I think the world of coach (Pat) Narduzzi, I think the world of college football."

This was not an instance, Partridge said, of a college coach fleeing the transfer portal and world of NIL for the you-only-coach-football world of the NFL. He was successful at the college level – Partridge was twice named FootballScoop's Defensive Line Coach of the Year while at Pitt, and he helped develop the likes of J.J. Watt, Trey Hendrickson and Calijah Kancey before they went to the NFL.

Partridge and his family, after seven years with the same program, were ready for a new challenge, and the Colts and Indianapolis were the right destination.

"Chris Ballard is a wonderful human," Partridge said, "Shane (Steichen) has got a beautiful mind and Gus Bradley – an opportunity to come to a place like the Colts and the culture that's here all that together combined to be an absolute no-brainer."

With the Colts, Partridge will be tasked with coaching a deep defensive line headlined by DeForest Buckner, Samson Ebukam, Tyquan Lewis, Dayo Odeyingbo, Kwity Paye, Grover Stewart and 2024 first-round pick Laiatu Latu.

Partridge was thrilled the Colts landed Latu with the No. 15 overall pick, pointing to his well-developed arsenal of pass rushing moves and tenacious approach to football.

"He's a three-way rusher," Partridge said. "He can win with speed off the edge, he can win with power, he can win with counters. Now we got to translate that into doing it against offensive tackles and trying to find a way to put him into position. I think you always appreciate somebody that had something taken from them and gets a second chance, and you feel that in his approach and his demeanor. Football was taken from him, and you kind of feel that in the way he attacks every minute that he has a chance to be around this game."

Partridge, too, wasn't the only former Pitt Panther to make the leap from college to the Colts this year. The Colts selected Pitt offensive tackle Matt Goncalves in the third round (No. 79 overall) of the 2024 NFL Draft, and Partridge gave a glowing review of him during the pre-draft process.

"Oh man, I loved —and hated — being on the other side of Matt Goncalves because he plays O-line the way you dream of it," Partridge said. "The first thing in his mindset is being physical and trying to move you from where you are to where he wants you to be. But the thing that I loved about Matt, and still love about Matt and I know this is how he's going to approach things — he was one of those O-linemen who would come into the D-line room and ask, coach, why are you doing this? Why did you do that against me today, whatever it may be.

"I think Matt's going to be playing in the NFL, barring anything crazy, for a long time. ... I wish I could tell you something negative about Matt. He approaches the game the right way. They're going to make the athletic evaluation based on tape and workout, so what they were really asking me about was, is he a good teammate? Does he love the game? Yes, yes."

View photos from the Colts rookies on Day 2 of Rookie Minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

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