PITTSBURGH — One of the things that Pat Narduzzi realized fairly early on in his tenure at Pitt was that if he wanted to play his base defense against ACC offenses, he needed better athletes at the star linebacker position.
After Nicholas Grigsby started at the star position in 2015, Narduzzi moved a series of players from the secondary into the spot, trying Seun Idowu, Jalen Williams and Henry Miller there. Idowu stuck and became a reliable starter, while Williams and Miller both transferred.
The next target Narduzzi has tapped for that transition is redshirt junior safety Phil Campbell, Jr., who spent the last three seasons as a backup at Pitt’s boundary safety position.
Campbell played a good bit in 2018, as Pitt rotated a number of players in behind starter Dennis Briggs. Campbell played in nine games, recording 26 tackles last season.
Briggs is moving on, but Narduzzi felt comfortable enough with his depth at safety — where Therran Coleman, Paris Ford, Bricen Garner and Jazzee Stocker are battling to take over Briggs’ former starting role in the secondary.
Campbell made it clear that it was his decision to make the move:
Of course, he’s still not guaranteed playing time at the star position. Despite the graduation of Idowu and reserve Anthony McKee deciding not to return, Cam Bright has been working with the top group of linebackers and Kyle Nunn has played the star position before, as well.