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Sights and sounds of Day 1: Pitt training camp


Too bad there are no homes close to the Beano Cook Fields adjacent to Pitt’s training complex on the South Side. Anyone who overslept would have been awakened by the sounds of the first day of the Panthers’ training camp.
And I’m not talking about the regular click-clack and rumble of the trains that roll by the fields.
The first outburst was from sophomore cornerback Trenton Coles, suddenly thrust into one of the most pivotal positions on the field with the suspension of his former Clairton teammate Titus Howard.
Coles ran onto the field like he was chasing someone or being chased, clapping his hands and shouting, “All right, everyone’s here.”
Later, Coles sounded almost defiant when he told reporters that he can handle the important and difficult responsibilities at cornerback.
“I have to stay confident,” he said. “If you’re not confident, you aren’t playing right. I believe in myself. I believe in what I can do. I’m going to do it.”
The secondary will be an interesting topic of conversation all season, with so little depth behind starters Coles, Lafayette Pitts and safeties Ray Vinopal and Terrish Webb. But don’t forget about Shady Side Academy graduate Reggie Mitchell. (That’s four out of five from the WPIAL, by the way).
Coaches love Mitchell’s athleticism and versatility – he can play safety, corner and nickel – and he has made the transition from Wisconsin with little apparent trouble.
Speaking of noise, secondary coach Troy Douglas made a little when he implored his defensive backs to “Play the ball, please.”
Yeah, he said, `Please,’ but he wasn’t being polite.
Douglas has emphasized an all-out attack on the football – whether it’s in the air or in the arms of a running back.
“If we chase the ball, we have a chance on defense,” he said.
Coles agrees. “The ball is the issue,” he said. “That’s money floating around.”
One other exchange between player and coach caught my eye. That was when wide receivers coach Greg Lewis insisted that freshman Adonis Jennings pick up the football and run it into the end zone after a pass intended for him fell incomplete.
Lewis, who played eight seasons in the NFL, repeated the command three times to Jennings before the young man got the idea, found the ball that had bounded far out of his reach and, indeed, ran it across the goal line.
Trivial events? Maybe.
But Douglas and Lewis are teaching their players accountability and a refusal to look for shortcuts.
By the way, I’m no scout, but Jennings looks like a promising wide receiver in the swift, crisp manner he runs his routes and with his mere physical presence (6-3, 195). He’s going to contribute, perhaps, before any of the other freshmen.



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