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Pitt off-season notes: Of linebackers and coaches, past and present


New Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable may not know his players especially well after only a week in town. But he should know this:
Linebacker Ejuan Price will be especially motivated over the winter and the next two seasons.
Price, a freshman from Woodland Hills, said this Tuesday on Twitter:
“Gotta grind in this off season I only wanna do 2 more years in college!. Got tired of school in 1 semester I need NFL.”
Price is a long way from the NFL. But I remember former Pitt defensive coordinator Keith Patterson telling me last summer that Price has the potential to be considered among the best pass rushers he has coached.
And Patterson was former Steelers outside linebacker Jason Gildon’s coach in high school.
— On the subject of linebackers’ tweets, Pitt’s Todd Thomas didn’t play in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday, and there was reason for that. He had surgery this week, according to one of his tweets.
Thomas, a redshirt freshman from Beaver Falls, played through knee pain most of the season, but often was one of the most dynamic defenders on the team.
— Linebacker Max Gruder hasn’t said anything notable on Twitter lately (good for him), but he will play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 21 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Pitt cornerback Antwuan Reed will play in the Casino Del Solo All-Star Game on Monday in Tucson, Ariz.
— Football coach Paul Chryst was introduced to the crowd at Petersen Events Center on Wednesday night during the Pitt/Rutgers game, and he spent several seconds waving to the crowd as unobtrusively as possible.
What he didn’t do (to his credit) was don an Oakland Zoo T-shirt and sit among that madness — like his predecessor famously did last year.
So far, Chryst has impressed everyone he has encountered with his quiet professionalism and a refusal to make any brash promises. I believe it’s an approach that eventually will pay dividends.
Todd Graham came to Pitt last season after some modest success at Tulsa in Conference USA, and acted like there was no other way to play football than his way.
Chryst accomplished more at Wisconsin against tougher competition — albeit as a coordinator, not a head coach — but you’d never know it.
Potential recruits and their coaches have noticed. In the end, those are the people a coach most wants to impress.



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