PITTSBURGH – When the pads go on, the battles heat up at Pitt training camp, and the wide receivers and defensive backs are loving the competition.
“It’s always good competition,” senior wide receiver Tre Tipton said. “If they are not talking stuff, then it’s not going to be a good day for anybody, man. It’s always a great competition, we love playing against each other. We love working together, so it’s nice.”
With experience and depth on both sides of the ball, the one-on-ones and 7-on-7 drills have been intense. Junior wideout Taysir Mack has enjoyed the clashes thus far, and gave props to the secondary’s performance in camp through the first week of practices.
“We always go at it,” Mack said. “I give it a lot to J-Penny (Jason Pinnock), Dane, especially Paris who made a couple of good plays today. We compete every day because, you know, iron sharpens iron.”
When the opportunity presents itself, senior free safety Damar Hamlin tries to matchup with Maurice Ffrench as much as possible. Ffrench led the Panthers with six touchdown receptions last season, and was second on the team in catches. Both players were All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2018.
“I try to line up against Maurice Ffrench every rep I can,” Hamlin said. “Even since we came in we have been trying to get each other better. So that’s my guy, that’s the one I am always trying to get with when we go one-on-one.”
The defensive backs are also liking the various looks that they are getting from new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s offense. Having gone against it in practice since the spring, they have confidence in its effectiveness as well.
“He’s dynamic, you never know what to expect from Coach Whip,” sophomore safety Paris Ford said. “He usually got a lot of tricks up his sleeve.”
Hamlin believes Whipple’s offense will be an improvement from the previous scheme.
“It’s more complex,” he said. “Last year, it was kind of like, a little bit, how it was. This year I feel like we are going to be more prepared going into the opener. We are seeing more, seeing more formations, you know, a lot of movement.”
For a receiving core that his hopeful for a breakout season, it is helpful to face off against an athletic, experienced secondary every day in practice. Meanwhile, the defensive backs are tasked with covering diverse receivers running a potent offense. A win-win situation.
If both units excel in the 2019 season, it will have truly been a case of iron sharpening iron.