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Making the grade


Dave Wannstedt has little patience for players who don’t take care of business, especially when it comes to areas such as academics. The Pitt coach on Thursday hinted that a few Panthers might miss the trip to El Paso, Texas, to play Oregon State in the 75th Brut Sun Bowl.

Final grades came today, and could prove costly for some.

“Hopefully, everybody makes it to the trip,” Wannstedt said, “but there won’t be. I think there will be one or two guys that, unfortunately, we’ll have to announce that they won’t be with us because of academic reasons. I hope that’s not true when the dust settles, but the odds tell you that it probably will be.”

Wannstedt did clarify one thing, though.

“There won’t be any starters” missing the bowl game, he said. “That’s one thing I do know.”

Not all news regarding Pitt football academics is negative. Wannstedt said the Panthers have four seniors – nose tackle Rashaad Duncan, tailback LaRod Stephens-Howling, fullback Conredge Collins and center C.J. Davis – who are on track to graduate next spring.

“For the most part, I was pleased,” Wannstedt said. “The most encouraging thing with all the academics to me is that Rashaad Duncan, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Conredge Collins and C.J. Davis all started as freshmen and have not been redshirted. Two of them need eight credits to graduate and two of them need 10. They’ll all have their degrees in four years and all have been starters.

“To me, that’s about as rewarding as it gets.”

If Wannstedt has a special affinity for the foursome, it’s because they were part of his very first recruiting class at Pitt. Stephens-Howling had already committed to the Panthers before Wannstedt was hired on Dec. 23, 2004, but Collins, Davis and Duncan picked Pitt afterward and overcame a 16-19 start to their careers to finish 25-22 overall.

“Through the ups and downs, they have been very and very consistent and steady with how they approached not just the football, but with their weight-room work and obviously academically,” Wannstedt said. “They’ve done everything and bought into the program … and finished strong.”



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