PITTSBURGH — Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi and company got the 2019 season started officially on Wednesday, as the Panthers performed in a full practice capacity for the first time this spring.
Pitt’s players worked out without shoulder pads and performed mostly 7-on-7. It was the first Pitt practice for new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and receivers coach Chris Beatty, and while they did some different drills, it didn’t seem to be a too great of a departure from typical Pitt practices in the past.
That’s not to say there was nothing new. Pitt made several position changes following the 2018 regular season, moving several returning scholarship players to new positions for spring practice.
• Redshirt junior Phil Campbell, Jr., has moved from strong safety to star linebacker. Campbell spent last year as a reserve behind Dennis Briggs and Jazzee Stocker at strong safety, playing in nine games and making 26 tackles.
At star linebacker, Pitt lost starter Seun Idowu to graduation and reserve Anthony McKee, Jr., decided not to return for his final season.
Campbell was working behind redshirt sophomore Cam Bright at star linebacker in practice on Wednesday.
Here’s Campbell and the rest of the linebackers, working on a pass-rush drill:
• Paris Ford moved from cornerback to safety during bowl practice, and continued to work out with the safeties, along with Therran Coleman and Erick Hallett.
Coleman worked alongside Bricen Garner behind starters Damar Hamlin and Jazzee Stocker. Here are Pitt’s safeties working with coach Corey Sanders:
• Sophomore V’Lique Carter moved from slot receiver to running back. Carter was used last year primarily in jet sweeps throughout the second half of the year. He appeared in six games for the Panthers last season tallying 25 rushing attempts for 202 yards and three catches for nine yards.
Carter started the 2018 season at cornerback before being moved to slot receiver permanently midway through the season.
On Wednesday at spring practice, Carter worked behind AJ Davis and Todd Sibley at running back.
• Redshirt junior Rashad Wheeler has moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard for the 2019 season. As a sophomore, Wheeler appeared in eight games where he recorded 12 tackles and one sack. He primarily played behind fellow teammates Keyshon Camp, Amir Watts, and Shane Roy.
Redshirt sophomore Carson Van Lynn has moved from tight end to offensive tackle. Van Lynn was used last year as tight end during the 2018 season after fellow tight end Tyler Sear left the team. In all, Van Lynn played in 12 games and started five at tight end.
At practice on Wednesday, Van Lynn and Wheeler practiced with the reserve offensive linemen:
NEW KIDS IN TOWN
Pitt has two early enrollees: four-star quarterback Davis Beville from Greenville, South Carolina and three-star tackle Liam Dick from Ontario. Both players worked out in practice on Wednesday, with Beville rotating in as the fourth quarterback and Dick with the third-team offensive line. Dick will wear No. 62 and Beville will wear No. 17.
MORE NEW NUMBERS
Several other Pitt players changed their uniform numbers. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Tyler Bentley changed from 50 to 92, redshirt freshman tight end Kaymar Mimes will wear 82 instead of 98, redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Patti changed from 4 to 12, junior cornerback Damarri Mathis changed from 16 to 21, redshirt sophomore running back Todd Sibley swapped from 26 to 23, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman has switched from 55 to 97 and redshirt sophomore tackle Carson Van Lynn will go back to 59 from 87.
Walk-ons Grey Brancifort (51 to 40), Jake Zilinskas (19 to 14) and Brian Burgess (68 to 61) also changed numbers. Brancifort moved from linebacker to fullback, Zilinskas is back at tight end after moving there from quarterback last year and Burgess has flipped from defensive line to offensive line.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Get even more from the sights and sounds of Pitt’s first practice: