PITTSBURGH — The busy off-season for Pitt football is only continuing as spring practice officially got kicked off on Monday morning. Since the 2019 season wrapped up, several key players decided to return, a few left, and of most recently, some players are switching positions.
First off, tight ends Grant Carrigan and Jason Collier have moved to the offensive line.
Carrigan, a 6-foot-7, 285-pounder that played his high school ball at Pine-Richland is now a redshirt junior. Last season he appeared in all 13 of Pitt’s games and saw the field strictly as a reserve tight end and on special teams.
This year, with transfer Lucas Krull expected to start at tight end, Carrigan will move to right tackle, where he can compete for the open starting job vacated by graduated tackle Nolan Ulizio.
“I think he’s a blocking tight end,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said on Monday. “Grant came to me. We’ve been trying to do it for a couple of years. We’ll see what the tape looks like today. We’ll especially see what happens when the video gets put on when the pads get on. It was like, ‘Hey I’m a blocking tight end, why don’t I start blocking all the time, instead of throwing passes with [tight ends coach Tim] Salem.'”
Moving up front alongside Carrigan is 6-foot-5, 315-pound redshirt freshman Jason Collier. Collier sat out last season and redshirted as a true freshman season. He split time between tight end tackle as a reserve in 2019.
“We recruited Jason as a tackle,” Narduzzi said. “On game day, he put on his tight end number. … But during the week, if you guys were paying attention, he was with the (offensive) line all year. If we needed a big tight end or we’re down a tight end on scout team, he did that. He’s been at that position. He’s at 315, maybe 320, the dude’s huge. We thought that’s where he was going to go, he’s a super kid that’s bought in. I love his enthusiasm about the position.”
But now, both of these guys will look to add depth to Pitt’s offensive line, directed by coach Dave Borbely. The offensive line was a unit a season ago that showed its struggles in both run and pass blocking, but with the main starters returning, it should be a position group that takes a leap in 2020.
Left guard Bryce Hargrove, center Jimmy Morrissey, right guard Jake Kradel and left tackle Carter Warren all return from the starting five.
Right tackle is the only position still up for grabs, with Carrigan battling, Carson Van Lynn and Gabe Houy.
Now, with two tight ends switching positions, ex-defensive end Kaymar Mimes will fill one of those slots. Mimes came to Pitt in 2018 as one of New Jersey’s top defensive end prospects. But he redshirted his first season and was listed as a tight end.
Then in his second season as a redshirt freshman, he switched to a defensive lineman and had a rough go of trying to find a role as part of the Panthers’ most skilled and veteran-led position. With guys like Rashad Weaver, Keyshon Camp, Jalen Twyman, and Patrick Jones II all back on the South Side for the start of spring practice, Mimes had to make a change to see playing time in his third year with the program.
“We’re just trying to find a home for him,” Narduzzi said regarding Mimes. “I think Kaymar (Mimes) is capable to be a tight end. He’s going to need a ton of reps this spring.”
Pitt’s tight end group isn’t nearly as solidified. Other than the projected starter, Lucas Krull, the reserve reps at tight-end will likely be battled for right off the bat as spring practice continues to roll along.