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Notes from Day 9 of Pitt spring drills

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Pitt coach Paul Chryst put his team through the ninth day of spring practice Thursday, with six more to follow. It was mostly positional drills, with not much team action (the really good stuff). The 10th practice Friday will feature more physical play and plenty of 11-on-11 drills, with officials throwing flags. That always ratchets up the intensity.
Some highlights from Thursday:
Best collision of the day: Defensive end Shakir Soto, who looks like he might impact the line positively this season, on running back James Conner. Soto initiated it, which is a switch from most of the best hits this spring, which have been launched by Conner. But neither player seemed fazed, probably because Conner is only about 5 pounds lighter than Soto, who is listed at 255.
Best catch of the day: Tyler Boyd made a diving end-zone catch of a throw by quarterback Trey Anderson in which Boyd contorted his body nearly into a horizontal position.
Unfair fight: Big defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett, 6-3, 340, grabbing running back Rachid Ibrahim, 6-1, 185, and tossing him to the turf.
Best position battle: Clairton buddies Titus Howard and Trenton Coles at the cornerback position that was vacated when K’Waun Williams exhausted his eligibility. I took an unofficial poll of media and other regular practice watchers, looking for a leader. Howard got a 3-1 edge (small sample size, I know), but Coles remains an intriguing player — maybe the best pure athlete on the defense. Secondary coach Troy Douglas wasn’t part of my poll,  of course, but I loved how he described Coles the other day: “He has a lot of talent.” Douglas emphasized the word `lot.’ Actually, the secondary as a whole looks to be more athletic than at any time in the past four springs.
Race you’ll never see, but might be interesting to watch: Coles vs. wide receiver Jester Weah in a 100-yard dash. Both were state high school track champions in their respective states (Pennsylvania and Wisconsin).
Player that teammates and coaches can’t stop talking about: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Zach Challingsworth of South Fayette. He catches everything and is fearless when running through the secondary at 6-2, 185.
Must-hear radio: Chris Peak had an interesting roster breakdown, plus insightful interviews with analyst Pat Bostick and incoming offensive line recruit Mike Grimm, on TribLiveRadio on Thursday. Listen here.

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