Pitt tight end Brock DeCicco missed practice the past two days to ponder his future and consider transferring to another school.
This is not a surprising development because the tight end isn’t a big part of coach Todd Graham’s offense, and DeCicco should be able to find another school where he can flourish.
He started three games last season in former coach Dave Wannstedt’s system and probably figured he would play an even larger role in 2011 before Wannstedt was fired. But with Graham emphasizing throws to H-backs Hubie Graham and Drew Carswell and the tight end phased out of the picture, DeCicco could get lost in this offense.
DeCicco, a redshirt sophomore from Thomas Jefferson, is better than that and he is smart to seek another venue for his considerable talents.
DeCicco has two career catches – both for touchdowns (one in a bowl game).
– Quarterback Tino Sunseri, who has been one of the team’s most potent leaders this week, said he learned a lot by attending Carolina Panthers practices when he father Sal was an assistant there.
“I would see (former Panthers quarterback) Jake Delhomme and (teammates) kind of lead the offense and set that example and that tone,” Sunseri said.
“I try to mirror somebody like (Delhomme), who is a very passionate guy and a great leader who understands what is expected out of him and is making sure he is pushing everybody.”
Sunseri said he offers encouragement, rather than criticism.
“As soon as you start to discourage people and put them down and tell them what they are doing wrong,” he said, “they kind of shut you off.”
– Quarterbacks coach Todd Dodge had an interesting comment about the importance of leadership.
“If a guy has a rough practice,” Dodge said, “and the offensive line coach has been ripping him, it means more to that offensive lineman for Tino to come put his arm around (him) and say, `I believe in you,’ than it is for a coach (to do it).”
Sometimes, the best coaches are the ones who know when to back off occasionally. And Dodge looks and talks like a man meant to coach.
– The offense continues to operate at a high rate of speed, and the players are starting to get accustomed to it. “I think our tempo is starting to get where we’re not noticing that we’re going fast,” Graham said. “Does that make sense? We’re fast right now. But we need to be fastest. We have another mode that we can go in.”
Graham used a 40-second play clock for the first time and most snaps got off with at least 20 seconds left.
– Graham said he was pleased Friday with the overall competitiveness when the team wore full pads for the first time.
Ryan Turnley took most of the snaps at center, but early in practice, he misfired badly and Graham immediately called for Chris Jacobson to move from left guard. That gave Matt Rotheram an opportunity as Jacobson’s replacement.
– Todd Thomas, a redshirt freshman from Beaver Falls, worked with the first team at outside linebacker while starter Greg Williams dealt with a case of cramps.
Cornerback Buddy Jackson also suffered from cramps and didn’t participate in the entire practice.
– Senior inside linebacker Tristan Roberts replaced redshirt sophomore Shane Gordon, who was given the day off after appearing a little woozy Thursday when he tackled running back Ray Graham with one of the hardest hits of the week.
“Ray said he ran into some steel,” Todd Graham said. “(Shane) is fine. We were just being precautious today.”
– Wide receivers coach Mike Norvell, one of the most excitable coaches on the staff, all but chased freshman Darius Patton into the end zone after Patton caught a short pass from Trey Anderson and weaved through the defense for the score.
Patton is among a select group of freshmen, including Woodland Hills graduates K.K. Mosley-Smith, Lafayette Pitts and Juan Price, who could make an impact this season.
– Freshman running back Corey Davis looks to be extremely talented, too. But when Davis was trying to throw a block, defensive lineman Aaron Donald hurled him to the ground like he was flicking a fly off his jersey.
Donald, a 6-foot, 270-pound sophomore from Penn Hills, is only a backup today, but he looks like he will grow beyond just a good defensive lineman.
– Speaking of Penn Hills, there are four other products of that school system on the team, including defensive backs Brandon Ifill and Cullen Christian and linebacker Dan Mason. Patton went there as a sophomore.
– Senior Saheed Imoru, a backup defensive back, forced a fumble by freshman running back Malcolm Crockett and made the recovery – all in one impressive athletic motion.
– Linebacker Manny Williams and cornerback Jeremiah Davis made slick interceptions, earning Williams praise for good athleticism. Davis? He was slammed to the turf by intended receiver Salath Williams.
– Fastest five guys on the team, according to wide receiver Cameron Saddler, who claims to be one of them: Jackson, followed by wide receiver Devin Street and cornerbacks Antwuan Reed and K’Waun Williams.
– Most accurate quarterback on the roster: Sunseri, and it’s not even close. At least in my opinion.
– Jarred Holley is one of the best safeties in the Big East. He’s fast, strong and savvy.
He’s also smart enough to show the proper respect when 310 pounds worth of Lucas Nix is barreling down on him.
That’s what happened when Ray Graham caught a screen pass and was racing into the end zone. Nix, a fifth-year senior right tackle, cleared a path for Graham while Holley, who is 120 pounds lighter, kept his distance.
– Pitt’s first scrimmage is Sunday, but it is closed to the media. Oh, well. Can’t do anything about that. I’ll snoop around Monday and see what I missed.
Sounds like Sunday is a good time to spend the day with Jack and Aiden DiPaola, my 11-month old twin grandsons.
Catch you on the other side.