There were many people who didn’t think the day would ever come.
Although the circumstances are far from normal, Thursday morning, the Pitt football team officially reported to fall camp to prepare for the 2020 season.
Things like masks and social distancing will make this year different but the goal of winning and having a successful season in the ACC will remain the same.
The good news for Pat Narduzzi and his staff is that not only does he return his most talented team since becoming head coach at Pitt but it’s also his most veteran team, which should help in dealing with getting the younger players focused on the task of winning football games.
The ACC conference didn’t do Pitt any favors when issuing their new 2020 schedule. They will see increased travel, along with a game against college superpower Clemson, adding to their already challenging schedule of Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.
Pitt will no doubt look at this as an opportunity to showcase their program along with a number of highly rated players returning to the program. Despite the difficult schedule, the Panthers won’t go into this season feeling like underdogs because of the amount of NFL talent they have on the roster along with the freshman and sophomores that are ready to make an impact.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM:
NFL Talent: When you enter a season and already have a number of players that are on the radar of NFL teams, that’s a really good thing. For the first time in years, Pitt has a handful of players that will be playing or have a chance to play on Sunday’s like Jaylen Twyman, Patrick Jones, Paris Ford, Jimmy Morrissey, Rashad Weaver, Damar Hamlin, Keyshon Camp, Lucas Krull, Kenny Pickett, Jason Pinnock and Damari Mathis.
Returning Starters: In a season with such uncertainty and with virtually no offseason workouts, Pitt will be fortunate to have so many returning starters from last season. When evaluating the starting depth chart, the only camp position battles appear to be at right tackle, one wide receiver spot and middle linebacker. A number of players will compete for the starting running back job but regardless of who ends up winning it, A.J. Davis or Vincent Davis started at times last year and got plenty of reps.
Kenny Pickett: No other position is under the spotlight and receives more criticism (warranted or not) like the quarterback position. Kenny Pickett will be back to lead Pitt’s offense and that’s a good thing. Having the continuity of being in Mark Whipple’s offense for a second season combined with having four starters returning on the offensive line. Remember that last season, Morrissey was the only starting lineman with game experience so they were practically learning on the job. Combine that with the fact that the running back position had uncertainty all season and that tight end was an extreme weak spot. When you factor that all together, that makes it tough on the quarterback. Pickett will also benefit from the fact that young, talented and speedy playmakers like Jared Wayne, Shocky Jacques-Louis, Jordan Addison and Israel Abanikanda will have larger roles in the offense.
Young Talent: Pitt will not only return veteran talent but they have also done a good job recruiting and some of that young talent could have an immediate impact. Keep an eye out for redshirt or true freshman such as DT Calijah Kancey, Kyi Wright, Daniel Carter, Jaylon Barden, Aydin Henningham, Jordan Addison and Israel Abanikanda, who could have an impact this season.
The schedule is out, the players have reported to camp, it’s finally time for football. Assuming they can get an entire season in, it should be an exciting and successful season for Pitt football.