PITTSBURGH — Freshman cornerback Damar Hamlin might not be ready for the season opener, head coach Pat Narduzzi said Thursday.
Hamlin, a four-star recruit out of Pittsburgh Central Catholic was the crown jewel of Narduzzi’s 2016 recruiting class, but his ability to contribute in training camp has been hampered by a nagging injury.
“He’s dealing with a minor little thing right now that we just can’t get right,” Narduzzi said. “We’ve actually brought in a specialist to look at him. We saw enough early that we know the can help us, but we have to get him back on the field. Is it helping us in the opener? Probably not. Is it helping us in the season, we’re going to work on that.”
Hamlin’s injury and inability to participate in camp should pretty much seal up a starting cornerback job for senior Ryan Lewis, at least for the beginning of the season.
James Conner had a check-up scan to make sure that his Hodgkin lymphoma remains in remission, and he was given a clean bill of health.
“He had another scan the other day,” Narduzzi said. “We expected it come out clean and it did. It was a little stressful the other day, but he’s great.”
Conner is expected to be the team’s starting running back next Saturday, and Narduzzi was complimentary of his level of conditioning despite playing just one game since 2014.
“I expected to see it, without a doubt,” Narduzzi said. “He’s a guy that has a smile on his face every day.”
Redshirt senior Chris Wuestner will transfer from the team. Wuestner, a Carlisle, Pa. native, missed the entire 2015 season with an internal injury. He started one game at wide receiver in 2013 and made two career catches for the Panthers in addition to being a solid special teams contributor.
“He wants to play more, which I totally understand,” Narduzzi said. “He’s a senior that’s been through a lot in five years. … I think it’s important for him to reach out and fulfill his dream of playing more wideout. It looked like he was going to play a lot of special teams for us. We wish him luck.”
Wuestner has already graduated from Pitt and thus will be immediately eligible to play somewhere else. He was not on scholarship at Pitt.
“We’ll help him wherever he wants to go,” Narduzzi said.