PITTSBURGH — Pitt wide receiver Taysir Mack, who was not listed on the first depth chart of the season on Monday, insisted Tuesday that he’s ready to make his debut this Saturday against Albany.
Mack, a redshirt sophomore, transferred to Pitt from Indiana his offseason and didn’t discover until the middle of training camp that he would be eligible to play with the Panthers this season.
Since then, he’s been on a crash course to get ready to play in the season opener, now four days away, and Tuesday, he said he’s 100 percent physically and ready to go if called upon.
“Whatever role they need me to play, I”m ready for,” Mack said. “Coach [Shawn] Watson and Coach [Kevin] Sherman did a great job helping me understand [the offense.]
Mack confirmed that he’s mostly played the “X” wide receiver position, or split end. That’s where head coach Pat Narduzzi said Mack belonged on the depth chart.
The listed starter at that position is junior Aaron Mathews, and Mack didn’t provide any insight into how much he’ll be asked to play, if at all. Mack hasn’t regularly been working out with the first group of Pitt’s offense. But Mack downplayed the significance of who is where on the depth chart at the wide receiver position.
“We all feed off each other,” Mack said. “We don’t want to make it, it’s the one’s, it’s the two’s. We’re a posse. We do it as a team. We do it together. One man goes down, the next one flows in and keeps it going.”
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has said there are nine or 10 players that he expects to play this week at wide receiver. Rafael Araujo-Lopes and Tre Tipton are listed as starters along with Mathews. Dontavius Butler-Jenkins, Maurice French and freshman Shocky Jacques-Louis make up the second team, with Michael Smith and Darian Street also on the two-deep roster.
Originally expected to have to sit out the entire 2018 season, Mack was granted an eligibility waiver from the NCAA. Those discussions are private, but one of the more common reasons is for an athlete to be closer to his family. Mack is from Brooklyn, New York, which is about six hours from Pittsburgh — half as far as the 12-hour drive it took him to get to Bloomington, Indiana. As a result, he’s expecting to have some family in the stands this weekend.
“This move, being able to be home and close to family, it’s been huge,” he said. “They feel like they can make that [drive.]”
Now that Mack knows he’s going to be allowed to play, he’s getting excited for the season opener.
“I just can’t wait to help the team,” he said.