Pitt’s inability to find a starting center, combined with the emergence of sophomore tackle Jason Pinkston made the possibility of moving Mike McGlynn to a new position a hot topic of conversation.
The only one who hasn’t had much to say about it was McGlynn, who missed the majority of spring drills with a torn labrum of his left shoulder but appears to be the leading candidate to play center.
Never mind that the fifth-year senior has made a team-high 31 consecutive starts at right tackle. Or that he hasn’t played center since he was a high school sophomore. Eight years ago.
Even so, McGlynn is willing to make the switch.
“I’m open to anything that the coaching staff believes is going to help us win football games,” McGlynn said. “If coach (Dave) Wannstedt believes me paying center is best for the team, I’m up for it. I’m not going to be a selfish guy and say, ‘I’m only going to play right tackle.’ I’m fine with playing anywhere.”
Just don’t expect to see McGlynn on the field when the Panthers open training camp Tuesday. Although he claims his rehabilitation is “ahead of schedule,” McGlynn said he will be participating only in non-contact drills until his shoulder heals. He hopes to be ready by the season opener against Eastern Michigan Sept. 1 at Heinz Field.
Even though he’s not guaranteed to get his right tackle job back, McGlynn figures to be somewhere in the starting lineup when he returns to the field for good.
“I hope that’s the way we’re taking it,” McGlynn said. “I’ve been starting here for three years. Obviously, everybody has to prove themselves. When I get back on the field, nothing is going to be handed to me. That’s how I approach things. But you have to be smart about it. It doesn’t make sense to rush back and get hurt again.”
That means the Panthers will once again hold open auditions at center. The leading candidate is fifth-year senior Chris Vangas, who has been the primary backup but also is capable of playing guard.
Redshirt sophomore John Bachman, who switched from tackle to center in the spring, is more athletic but struggled with center-quarterback exchanges and had off-season surgery on his ankle. Redshirt freshman Scott Corson has had similar troubles.
Snapping won’t be a problem for McGlynn, who serves as Pitt’s long-snapper on field goals and point-after kicks. He knows the offense, is confident he can handle making the calls at the line of scrimmage and a clean exchange.
“Center-quarterback exchanges wouldn’t be a problem for me,” McGlynn said. “I never had a center-quarterback exchange problem in high school. I played some center last year during spring. It’s a very important position. You have to know everything about the offense, all your assignments. Being a three-year starter, I’m one of the guys who does know my assignments and has been under fire. I do have game experience and you can’t replace experience.”
Plus, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound McGlynn believes he might be best-suited to play center if he gets a shot at the NFL.
“It’s one of my natural positions,” McGlynn said. “If I’m fortunate enough to play at the next level, I think center would be a great position for me to play.
“I’m comfortable with that move.”