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Five Things to Watch During Pitt Football Camp



Pat Narduzzi at Pitt's 7x7 camp (Photo credit: Joe Steigerwald)

Tomorrow morning at 9 AM, the Pitt football team will hit the practice fields officially for the first time during fall practice in preparation for the 2017 season.

The players and coaches arrived today on the South Side for meetings but tomorrow at 9:10 AM is when the Panthers hit the practice field.

The big question is whether the 2017 Panthers have enough to challenge Miami, Fla. and Virginia Tech for the ACC Coastal Championship.

Pat Narduzzi will need to replace talented players and leaders such as James Conner, Nathan Peterman, Dorian Johnson, Adam Bisnowaty, Scott Orndoff, Ejuan Price, Shakir Soto and Chris Blewitt. The good news for Narduzzi is that the Panthers have done a good job recruiting so although it’s young, he’ll have plenty of options to call upon to step in and contribute.

Looking at the depth chart, Narduzzi has plenty of legitimate battles and roster spots to monitor prior to the opener on September 2nd vs. Youngstown State.

Pittsburgh Sports Now will of course have you covered tomorrow and all Pitt football season with myself, Alan Saunders, Harry Psaros, Dorin Dickerson, Nick Gordon and Francis Guarnieri.

Here are the top storylines that we’ll be following over the course of Pitt camp.

1) Who Will Replace James Conner as Pitt’s Starting Running Back?
Narduzzi and OC Shawn Watson definitely have plenty of talented options to choose from with Chawntez Moss, Darrin Hall, Qadree Ollison, AJ Davis and Todd Sibley. Honestly, I think this is wide open and all of these players have a legitimate chance to start. Keep in mind, Moss seemingly came out of nowhere last year to impress the staff and earn a lot of early season playing time last year. I’ve heard a lot of good things concerning Ollison so my pre-camp money would be on him.

2) Which Talented Freshman Defensive Backs Will Get On Field First?
Running back isn’t the only position that Pitt has quality depth. Although they’re young, DC Josh Conklin has plenty of young players to watch during the month of August. Who will catch the coaches eye and earn playing time? Considering the news with Jordan Whitehead, I’d say Avonte Maddox is the only person assured of a starting spot. Young talent like Paris Ford, Damar Hamlin, Bricen Garner, Therran Coleman and Henry Miller will have a chance to “get a helmet” for Saturday as Mike Tomlin would say. Once again prior to camp, I’ll go with an opening day secondary of Maddox, Dane Jackson, Ford and Hamlin.

3) Enough Depth On The Defensive Line?
The one position that is a concern for me is the Panthers defensive line because of a lack of talented depth. The dismissal of senior Jeremiah Taleni could prove to be a huge loss because the line will be filled with a ton of inexperience. Players like Amir Watts, Keyshon Camp and incoming freshman Kam Carter might be talented but they haven’t done it on the big stage. Behind them are guys like Mike Herndon, Shane Roy, Rashad Wheeler and freshman Jaylen Twyman.

4) Who Will Replace Rori Blair At Defensive End?
Assuming he’s healthy, talented Dewayne Hendrix will man one of Pitt’s two spots at defensive end. Who will start on the opposite site? Before his dismissal from the team, senior Rori Blair would have been considered a leading candidate but he’s now out of the equation. Redshirt senior Allen Edwards will get the first crack at the job but if he’s able to pick up the system, but don’t be surprised if redshirt Kaezon Pugh gets a serious look. Guys like Rashad Weaver, James Folston and Patrick Jones will also be in the mix.

5) Breakout Player For 2017?
Who will the surprise player from this year’s camp be? Our Pitt Insider, Nick Gordon, tells me that Pitt fans should keep an eye on Allen Edwards, Jay Stocker, Chawntez Moss, Justin Morgan and Rashad Weaver this year.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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