Pitt redshirt junior Tyrone Ezell has established himself as the most versatile defensive lineman on the team. He can play inside (his natural position) and outside (where his 6-4 frame creates vision problems for quarterbacks), and coaches still don’t know where he will ultimately land.
“I came in today and I had my mind set on playing end,” Ezell said after practice Friday morning. “They said, `You’re going back to nose guard today.’ End was like a new home for me. I was still unpacking.”
Ezell, who went to Steel Valley, is just happy to be playing anywhere, and he looks like he will contribute this season, whether it’s at end or nose tackle. He alternated between the positions multiple times this week.
“We are getting a feel for him and what fits him best and also the group,” coach Paul Chryst said. “Who are the four best defensive linemen? Let’s get them on the field.”
Friday, the starters were Aaron Donald and Ezell in the middle, with T.J. Clemmings and Jack Lippert at end. But Lippert played nose guard when K.K. Mosley-Smith was hurt earlier in the week, and Shayne Hale and Bryan Murphy have taken a lot of reps at end. Freshmen Darryl Render and Terrell Jackson also are getting a lot of work inside, with redshirt freshman Devin Cook at end.
– Ezell said the success of the defense hinges on how well the linemen perform.
“It starts with us,” he said. “If we don’t set the tone and be like war daddys, it’s going to be hard for the defense.”
Urbandictionary.com describes a war daddy as a “beastly defensive lineman that eats up blockers and spits them out for dinner.”
Ezell’s definition: “Mean, nasty and aggressive.”
Whatever the meaning, Pitt is building an impressive defensive front merely from the standpoint of weight, with 300-pound Ezell, 290-pound Clemmings, 275-pound Donald (the best player of the bunch), 280-pound Lippert and 305-pound Mosley-Smith.
– Chryst’s evaluation of the quarterback position: “Peaks and valleys. We have to keep grinding away.”
– My evaluation: Quarterback Tino Sunseri will start looking better after wide receivers Mike Shanahan and Devin Street return from injuries. It’s unfair to judge Sunseri until that happens.
– Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon addressed the football team after practice.
“I wanted our guys to hear from him,” Chryst said. “There is a guy, you talk about a program. We are wanting to be that here. There are guys who probably never heard of him and been face-to-face with him and they had a chance to go up and introduce themselves.”
Dixon has spoken to the football team in past seasons, but not for several years.