Today is my first installment of a column of some thoughts on items concerning Pitt football and basketball. Feel free to leave your comments at the end.
**Some people have expressed some disappointment about Pitt’s opponent in the bowl game hoping for a team with a better record. I completely disagree. Beating Northwestern tomorrow and getting win #9 is the only thing that matters.
It might not seem like a big deal but consider that Pitt has only had 3 nine win seasons since 1983. That’s it. So, as Pat Narduzzi and his staff continue to build this program, achieving small milestones like that are important.
**While some would rather see Pitt go with a younger quarterback next season like Thomas MacVittie, I think bringing in a veteran like Max Browne is the smart move. Considering the 2017 schedule, Pitt has a chance to have a special season.
The non-conference schedule has 3 home games with Youngstown State, Rice, Oklahoma State and a road game at Penn State. The conference schedule has home games with Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina State with away games at Duke, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
As we sit here today, that’s a looks like a 9 or 10 win season for Pitt and I’d feel a lot more comfortable with a senior leading the way in 2017. MacVittie and Kenny Pickett will have their time and will win many games for Pitt but that should probably begin in 2018.
**A sign that a program is heading in the right direction is the number of players that they’re able to put in the pros. Looking ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft, Pitt has a chance to get quite a few players drafted.
Leading the way will be Dorian Johnson and Adam Bisnowaty, who should get picked in the first two rounds. Other Panthers that will likely hear their names called are James Conner, Ejuan Price, Nate Peterman and Scott Orndoff.
Six players drafted? Not bad. The last time that happened was in 2004 when Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona), Shawntae Spencer (San Francisco), Kris Wilson (Kansas City), Claude Harriott (Chicago), Andy Lee (San Francisco) and Brandon Miree (Denver) were selected.
In case you were wondering, seven Pitt players were drafted in 1990- Marc Spindler (Detroit), Dean Caliguire (San Francisco), Alonzo Hampton (Minnesota), Tom Sims (Kansas City), Chris Goetz (San Diego), Carmel Smith (Indianapolis) and Roman Matusz (Chicago).
**After the bowl game one of the things to keep your eye on is which players will be departing the program. Turnover is a reality for any program and I’m sure that will be the case with Pitt. This usually happens not because of unhappiness but because a player wants to play more and doesn’t see that with their current situation. I could see a few players on Pitt’s roster that decide to move on following the bowl game.
**Pitt currently has five, maybe six scholarships left to offer. Where will they go? If I hadn’t to guess, I’d say 1 DT, 2 CB, 1 DE, 1 WR and 1 wild card which could be Nathan Proctor, Tyjuan Garbutt, AJ Davis or Thayer Munford.
**What about this for a 2017 Depth Chart:
- LT: Jaryd Jones-Smith
- LG: ??
- C: Alex Officer
- RG: Alex Bookser
- RT: Brian O’Neil
- TE: Chris Clark
- WR: Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson
- RB: Chawntez Moss, Darrin Hall or Todd Sibley
- FB: George Aston
- DE: Dewayne Hendrix and Rori Blair
- DT: Jeremiah Taleni and Amir Watts or Keyshon Camp
- LB: Quintin Wirginis, Saleem Brightwell and Oluwaseun Idowu or Elijah Zeise
- CB: Damar Hamlin or Avonte Maddox or Therran Coleman
- S: Jordan Whitehead, ??
**2017 will be a season that underclassmen will have a chance to step up and earn minutes and valuable roles. Opportunity will be there for players like Aaron Mathews, Tre Tipton, Chase Pine, Kaezon Pugh, Rashad Weaver, Maurice Ffrench, Therran Coleman and Jay Stocker. Who will step up and take advantage?
**One thing that I want to point out is the amount of times I hear the names Coach Conklin and Coach Salem when I talk with prospective recruits. The job that those two are doing especially in the state of Florida is outstanding.