When Dave Wannstedt hinted that “one or two” Pitt players could miss the trip to El Paso, Texas, for the 75th Brut Sun Bowl, message-board posters immediate started speculating which Panthers could be left behind.
Turns out, only one Pitt player isn’t bowl-bound. That’s Ronald Hobby, a freshman cornerback who was taking a redshirt this season. He didn’t make the grades, and isn’t expected to return to the team.
“It looks like – and I’m not 100 percent sure – that he may be the only one at this point,” Wannstedt said Friday afternoon.
It’s a shame, on several levels. For one, Hobby graduated early from Gwynn Park High and enrolled last January. If anything, he should have been more adjusted than his classmates academically. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder also showed some promise in training camp and on the scout team, where he switched to offense to help simulate West Virginia’s running backs in preparing for the read-option for the 101st Backyard Brawl.
On the bright side, it opens up a scholarship. The Panthers will have three seniors at cornerback next fall in Aaron Berry, Jovani Chappel and walk-on Danny Cafaro, and a redshirt junior in Ricky Gary. The rest will be sophomores: Buddy Jackson, Antwuan Reed and Jarred Holley.
* One player walking a fine line between the doghouse and the outhouse is junior defensive tackle Tommie Duhart, who is one misstep away from finding himself on the outside looking in.
For now, Duhart is making the trip to the Sun Bowl.
“As long as Tommie continues to do everything he’s supposed to do, he’ll get an opportunity to play,” Wannstedt said. “It’s not just football. It’s school. It’s the weight room. It’s everything. We don’t have ‘sometime’ players here. Life as a Pitt Panther, there’s no gray area. You’re either in or you’re out. To be in, you’ve got to do everything.”
* A handful of WPIAL prospects visited Pitt’s practice today, most notably Penn Hills senior middle linebacker Dan Mason. Penn Hills junior receivers/defensive backs Brandon Ifill and Cullen Christian also attended, as did Gateway coach Terry Smith and three Gators juniors — cornerbacks Orne Bey and Dayonne Nunley and middle linebacker Delbert Tyler.
* For those traveling or away from a television on New Year’s Eve, the Sun Bowl is one of 24 bowl games that can be viewed live via cell phone on FLO TV. For more information, check its Web site.