Pitt coach Paul Chryst showed little patience for indiscretions by his players this off-season, dismissing safety Eric Williams and tight end Drew Carswell and suspending wide receiver Ronald Jones and defensive tackle K.K. Mosley-Smith for the entire season.
Plus, freshman quarterback Tre’von Chapman will miss the start of training camp Tuesday, at least, after serving a three-day term for assault.
None of those players would have been starters at the outset of camp, but losing them compromises depth. (Chapman would have been redshirted in any case.)
As a result, if injuries occur, Pitt could be in big trouble from the standpoint of experienced personnel.
That said, tight end Scott Orndoff, safeties Ryan Lewis and Jevonte Pitts, defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett and wide receivers Tyler Body, Zach Challingsworth and Chris Wuestner – all freshmen or redshirt freshmen – have a chance to contribute.
–One reason the Pitt defense might be better this season is the presence of junior outside linebacker Todd Thomas from the beginning.
A year ago, Thomas was trying to ease a left knee injury back to health after surgery and missed training camp. Eventually, he sat out the first four games before playing the last nine and recording 59 tackles, with 1 ½ sacks and an interception.
“I think he can give us some stuff, but he can play at a higher level than what he’s been,” Chryst said. “Need him to.”
— The return of middle linebacker Shane Gordon, who missed spring drills with a neck injury, is another boost to the defense. Gordon missed three games last season, but managed to collect 48 tackles, sixth on the team.
— Chryst said Gordon and strong safety Jason Hendricks (toe) have been cleared to practice.
— Freshman Rachid Ibrahim, who appeared to be a prospect for the secondary, will start his college career at running back. He was an all-state running back in Maryland, averaging 9.1 yards per carry at Avalon High School.
— Freshman defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni and redshirt junior defensive end David Durham will be limited early in camp with minor injuries.