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Spring football brings back a good memory


First day of Pitt’s spring drills (although the calendar says winter) and you can be sure of this over all else:
Coach Pat Narduzzi will wear shorts (he did) inside the chilly practice facility.
Today marked my seventh year covering Pitt spring football, and it doesn’t look much different than it did under Todd Graham and Paul Chryst:
Lots of whistles piercing the air, coaches barking instructions during drills, injured guys off in the corner or just watching with sad faces and the obligatory “Practice is now closed to the media” from director of football operations Ben Mathers when the viewing window ends for reporters. Mathers, a good guy who works hard, seems to enjoy saying that a bit too much.
The first day always reminds me of former offensive line coach Jim Hueber, probably my favorite Pitt assistant of all-time.
The first day of drills in 2012 — Chryst’s first year — I walked in the back door of the facility and there was Hueber, sitting on a golf cart. The players hadn’t arrived yet, so Hueber had a minute to chat.
He introduced himself to me — that doesn’t always happen — and we chatted for a few minutes. He referenced Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was on the same Vikings staff with Hueber.
Hueber was proud of his coaching career, which stretched into five decades, as well he should be.
Hueber is retired now, living in Minnesota last I heard. I talked to him three years ago when the Vikings drafted former Pitt offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings, who arrived as a defensive end and left as rich NFL offensive lineman.
Clemmings moved to offense at Chryst’s urging and learned the nuances of the position under Hueber. I always enjoyed talking to him about the line. He was an old-school guy who didn’t accept any excuses from his kids, always looked out for their well-being and was honest with the media.
His son Joe, who worked in Pitt’s recruiting office, is now with the Green Bay Packers as a scouting assistant. Hope to see Joe on Wednesday at Pitt’s Pro Day when the place will be overrun with NFL scouts.
Here is the list of 19 former Pitt players (11 of whom are WPIAL or City League products) who will work out for the scouts:
Offensive linemen: Adam Bisnowaty, Dorian Johnson and John Guy.
Running back: James Conner.
Quarterbacks: Nathan Peterman and Manny Stocker.
Wide receiver: Dontez Ford.
Tight ends: Scott Orndoff and Jaymar Parrish.
Defensive linemen: Ejuan Price, Tyrique Jarrett and Shakir Soto.
Linebackers: Matt Galambos and Bam Bradley.
Defensive backs: Ryan Lewis, Reggie Mitchell and Terrish Webb.
Kicker: Chris Blewitt.
Long snapper: Pat Quirin.

Speaking of the Packers, new Pitt quarterback Max Browne is wearing No. 4. No, I’m not making a comparison.
But No. 4 also was Nathan Peterman’s number and Browne almost apologized Thursday morning for taking it.
“I didn’t want to step on Peterman’s toes, by any means, but that’s what I’ve been for a while,” Browne said.
Browne said he took the number in high school because he was — you guessed it — a Brett Favre fan.
“He’s a good guy to look up to, a gunslinger,” Browne said.



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