Senior Quintin Wirginis will be a big part of Pitt’s group at linebacker, but juniors Elijah Zeise and Seun Idowu and sophomore Saleem Brightwell (still in the middle) were with the first team at the outset of the fifth day of spring drills Thursday morning.
Coach Pat Narduzzi was asked after practice where he would like to see Brightwell, who was an outside linebacker last year. He said he has no preference.
“The great thing, he’s learning both,” Narduzzi said. “I don’t think there’s anything better for a linebacker to say, `Hey, I can play anywhere, coach. Where do you want me to go?’ ”
Spring allows Narduzzi the time to use players at positions they may not play during the season. It gives coaches a dossier to fall back on if/when injuries occur. And it allows a contemplated position change to become reality in time for the season.
To that end, Brightwell is in the middle, Connor Dintino continues to get snaps at left guard and center and Jordan Whitehead is playing both safety positions.
In regards to Whitehead, if Pitt had two of him, that would solve most of its problems in the back end of the defense.
Is a Whitehead clone finishing up his senior year at Steel Valley? Paris Ford is expected to make an impact at one of the safety positions when he arrives on campus this summer.
Elsewhere on defense, Rori Blair and Dewayne Hendrix were manning the end spots, with Jeremiah Taleni and Amir Watts at tackle. Phillipie Motley joined Avonte Maddox at cornerback with the first team.
Narduzzi said he hasn’t seen many deep balls thrown or caught through five days of drills.
Narduzzi said there was a fight during the closed period Thursday. He made some unidentified players run gassers as punishment for disrupting the flow of practice, but he didn’t seem concerned.
“I love the way they’re competing,” he said. “Nice, little fight today we had to control. Looked like a brawl out there. Sometimes, that happens. But I love the attitude of the team.”
He also didn’t reveal who broke up the fight, only to confirm he didn’t get involved.
“I stay out of fights. We just get hit. We’re too old for that,” he said.
Bishop McCort coach Brian Basile was back at practice Thursday, with a big treat for Narduzzi and his staff.
Basile tries to connect with Pitt’s coaches when they recruit in and around Johnstown, and he likes to take them to lunch at his restaurant, Pizza-Deli Six Pack. Thursday, Basile brought a pan of hot sausage for the coaches’ lunch.
A bit of payback for Narduzzi allowing him to watch Pitt video and pick the coaches’ brains. Basile teaches and employs many of Pitt’s defensive concepts at Bishop McCort.