This morning Pat Narduzzi released his first official depth chart for the 2017 season.
Were there any surprises? To be honest, I didn’t see any among the starters but maybe a few with the second team.
Coming into camp, the Pitt coaches had quite a few positions that were legitimately up for grabs. One cornerback spot, one safety spot, both defensive tackle spots, one defensive end position, tight end, center and running back were all open when camp started at the start of August.
However, as camp went on, certain players started separating themselves and only cornerback and safety spots were being contested.
Here are my thoughts on what I saw on the depth chart.
No real surprise that Qadree Ollison was announced as the starter because he’d been running with the 1st team the last couple of weeks. Some might be surprised that Darrin Hall was listed as the backup but remember he’s a former 4-star recruit with a bunch of talent. It speaks of the Panthers depth that talented players like Chaentez Moss, AJ Davis and Todd Sibley aren’t on the two-deep. As we’ve written from the start, running back is Pitt’s deepest position and I wouldn’t be surprised if this depth chart changed a lot during the season. Narduzzi will go with hot backfield combination. One player won’t dominate the carries.
The biggest news was the progress that redshirt freshman Ruben Flowers made during camp. Some wondered if the former 4-star wideout had a role on this year’s team. The answer is yes as he’s listed as a possible backup to starter Jester Weah. That’s a huge jump from not getting on the field last year. Kevin Sherman has some tall, playmaking options at the one receiver spot with Weah, Flowers and Aaron Mathews.
Entering camp, tight end was viewed as a possible question mark. That isn’t the case now because graduate transfer Matt Flanagan was one of the biggest stories of camp. That became evident when he was listed as the starter at tight end. Considering his experience and the fact that Chris Clark hadn’t played in a real game in a couple of seasons, it probably shouldn’t be so surprising. Before people start questioning Clark, remember Pitt will use two tight ends a lot and Clark will be on the field. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Clark takes over as Pitt’s #1 TE before very long. It’s a long season.
Congrats to former walk-on and now scholarship player Jimmy Morrissey for winning the center spot over Connor Dintino. That was a tough, hard-fought battle.
Only thing that really stood out was true freshman Jerry Drake being listed as the backup at right tackle. Let’s see if that stays the same next week when Alex Bookser returns from his one-game suspension. Unless he’s going to play a lot, I’d imagine that Pitt would prefer to redshirt the talented freshman.
It was kind of surprising that Dewayne Hendrix and freshman Rashad Weaver were named co-starters. I thought for sure that Hendrix would be the starter. Not sure what to make if that but it’s a good sign that Weaver was able to keep up his high level of play throughout camp. He could be in store for a big season. As expected, senior Allen Edwards won the other defensive end spot opposite either Hendrix or Weaver.
The biggest news was the order of the defensive tackles. At the start of camp, who would’ve listed Shane Roy as the starter, talented Kam Carter as 3rd team and redshirt freshman Rashad Wheeler as backup to Roy? This might speak to the depth at this position and today Narduzzi was very complimentary of the talent at this position.
Youth Stepping Up
A very positive thing that I noticed was the backup positions occupied by young players that were highly rated coming out of high school.
By the looks of the depth chart, the future might be this year for certain freshman Panthers. Guys like Damari Mathis, Henry Miller, Jason Pinnock, Chase Pine, Anthony McKee, Wheeler, Jaylen Twyman, Weaver, Drake and Flowers are all listed high on the depth chart. To me, that’s a sign that the coaches are stocking the cupboard with talent which only means good things for the future of the program.