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Inside the Ropes with Pitt football

Spring Practice No. 1

&#149 When the first-team defense lined up, redshirt freshman Greg Romeus lined up at left end opposite Chris McKillop instead of All-Big East selection Joe Clermond. On back-to-back plays, Romeus swatted down a screen pass then stopped Marcel Pestano in the backfield on a reverse.

&#149 The rest of the first-team defense included Rashaad Duncan and Gus Mustakas at tackle, Adam Gunn at weak-side linebacker, Scott McKillop in the middle and Nate Nix on the strong side. Kennard Cox and Aaron Berry manned the corners, with Eric Thatcher and Mike Phillips at safety.

&#149 The first-team offense was comprised of Chris Vangas at center, C.J. Davis and Joe Thomas at guards, Jeff Otah and Mike McGlynn at tackles and John Pelusi and Nate Byham at tight end. The receivers were Derek Kinder and Oderick Turner, with Stull at quarterback, Conredge Collins at fullback and LaRod Stephens-Howling at tailback.

&#149 The surprises came when the second-team defense took the field. Clermond and Doug Fulmer, the starters last season, flanked tackles Tyler Tkach and Jared Martin. The linebacker corps consisted of Dorin Dickerson and Shane Murray with grayshirt Justin Hargrove and Greg Webster sharing reps in the middle. Jovani Chappel and Ricky Gary manned the corners, with Lowell Robinson and walk-on Ross Ventrone at safety.

&#149 Wannstedt noted that Robinson entered spring drills with a much different makeup than when he arrived at camp last fall as a junior-college transfer. Look for Robinson, who starred primarily as a kick returner last season, to make a push for playing time at safety.

&#149 The second-team offense had tackles Jason Pinkston and Chase Clowser, guards Dom Williams and John Brown and center John Bachman, with Darrell Strong and walk-on Dustin Walters at tight end. The backfield consisted of quarterback Kevan Smith, tailbacks Kevin Collier and Shane Brooks, who made a nice run, and receivers T.J. Porter and Marcel Pestano, who both hauled in deep, over-the-shoulder catches along the left sideline. Grayshirt receiver Aaron Smith also worked in with the second team.

&#149 Conspicuous by his absence was sophomore safety Elijah Fields. Wannstedt said Fields has been suspended for violating team rules, but will return this spring. Also missing are defensive tackle Corey Davis and linebacker Tommie Campbell, who are suspended indefinitely. Cornerback Kelvin Chandler has been granted a release to transfer, and fullback Mark Yezovich was not invited back for a fifth year.

&#149 From the injury front, defensive linemen John Malecki and Mick Williams, linebacker Jemeel Brady and safety Irv Brown are recovering from shoulder surgeries and will be limited in drills this spring. Wannstedt said Webster lost 30 pounds in the off-season due to an undisclosed illness, but has regained 15 pounds and will participate in contact drills. Offensive lineman Dave Weber (knee) has been given a medical waiver.

&#149 One noticeable difference is the work of strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris, who knelt in Shrugging Atlas position in the end zone at the start of practice. The Panthers appeared much leaner, and Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said it’s especially evident on the front lines.

&#149 Recruits from Pitt’s Class of 2007 who attended practice include Keystone Oaks linemen Myles Caragein and Chris Jacobson, Thomas Jefferson safety Dom DeCicco, McDowell offensive tackle Dan Matha, Perry/Milford Academy receiver Aundre Wright and Erie Strong Vincent receiver Maurice Williams.

&#149 Prospects from the Class of 2008 at practice included Thomas Jefferson offensive lineman Lucas Nix, Ada (Ohio) quarterback Zack Dysert, Hopewell linebacker David Posluszny and offensive lineman Jimmy Turnley and Trinity linebackers Andrew Sweat and Mike Yancich.

&#149 Quote of the day: “I kid about it, but as long as I can remember the leaders of this team have been H.B. Blades and Tyler Palko. That was the perception. Now, all of a sudden, who is it going to be next year?”

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt

There’s my question of the day, courtesy of coach Wannstedt: Who will be Pitt’s leader this season? E-mail your responses to kgorman@tribweb.com. (Please include your first name and hometown).

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