As reported on Monday, Pitt running back Chawntez Moss will not be returning to the team in 2018.
The talented back came to Pitt as highly recruited prospect out Bedford, Ohio, was an early enrollee and was able to find the field as a true freshman despite being behind James Conner, Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall on the depth chart.
In 2016, he led Pitt’s running backs with a 5.4 yard-per-carry average on 42 rushes, higher than Conner (5.1), Hall (4.4) or Ollison (3.8).
With Conner moving on, the expectation for 2017 was that Moss would be part of the starting mix. But that never materialized.
Moss was suspended for the season opener against Youngstown State. After that, he split carries with Ollison against Penn State and Georgia Tech and got the majority of the carries against Oklahoma State and Rice. But through 41 carries — one fewer than he had in 2017 — his yards per carry average was down to 2.76.
Then, Moss was suspended again for four games. In his absence, the Pitt staff turned to Hall as Ollison’s change of pace and he took off for big games against Duke and Virginia. So when Moss returned to the lineup against North Carolina, he got just one carry for three yards. After that, he didn’t get another carry.
So the loss of Moss from 2017 to 2018 isn’t really about replacing production, as he finished the year with just 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
It’s more about depth and future potential. Moss said in his exclusive interview with Pittsburgh Sports Now on Monday that the coaching staff had told him he was the most talented of Pitt’s running backs, and the film from 2016 seems to support that assertion.
But regardless of that, with his suspensions and down season statistically, Moss was going to have a tough road to climb to pass Hall and Ollison in their senior years.
Where the loss will be felt is in 2019, when those two backs have moved on and Pitt will have just A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley from the current roster. Sibley redshirted and hasn’t played a down, while Davis probably should have, as he accumulated just 17 touches on the season.
That’s not a lot of experience to lean on going forward, and that’s probably when Pitt will most feel the impact of Moss’s departure.
Want to hear more from Moss about his departure? He talked exclusively with PSN: