PITTSBURGH — It’s tough to repeat as champions at any level of football, but Pitt’s quest to repeat as ACC champions began Monday morning on the South Side’s UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
It’s day one of the 2022 spring season, but there were already some nice plays from Pitt’s stars on the practice field. Despite the losses of Kenny Pickett on offense and Damarri Mathis on defense, it’s a veteran team on both sides of the ball with an infusion of key transfer additions at quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker.
USC transfer Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti took the field on Monday, with both looking sharp during the portions of practice open to the media. Patti, who had offseason surgery following the Peach Bowl, looked to be fully recovered. Davis Beville also threw with Slovis and Patti, pointing toward the top three names at quarterback.
A lot of focus will surround Pitt’s quarterback battle throughout the spring, and while Monday’s session available to the media didn’t highlight a lot, both Slovis and Patti both showcased nice touch and accuracy on deep balls.
Pitt’s wide receiving corps, headlined by reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, should contend with the best college football has to offer in 2022. Addison and Jared Wayne are the known entities, but guys like Konata Mumpfield and Addison Copeland stood out on Monday.
Mumpfield, a highly-touted transfer from Akron, was a freshman All-American in 2021, and he looked the part during drills on Monday. His body control and hands were on full display in making some nice catches. Copeland, an early enrollee three-star from New York, is adjusting to Pitt’s system and made a few nice catches during drills. But he did drop a deep shot in the end zone.
Wayne, the unsung hero of Pitt’s wide receiving corps, also made a very nice over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone. He’s another player who’s due for a big season in 2022.
With Lucas Krull having graduated and heading to the NFL Combine this week, freshman All-American Gavin Bartholomew is the lone impact tight end on Pitt’s roster returning in 2022. He looked the part during the drills made available to the media, looking even bigger than his listed 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame.
Bartholomew is going to be a star in 2022, breaking out even more off a stellar true freshman season.
Air Force transfer, and former Avonworth star, Trevor Faulkner was one of the surprise names on the field for Pitt during Monday’s practice. Faulkner, a two star recruit in the 2021 cycle, has returned home to Pittsburgh, so it’ll be interesting to see what sort of impact, if any, he’ll have.
Pitt’s success last season with both Krull and Bartholomew in the lineup likely points toward one of the tight ends stepping up with increased playing time as the spring rolls on.
As spring practices roll on, camp battles will start to heat up and the lineup vacancies will begin to fill. Pitt has to replace Pickett at quarterback and Taysir Mack at wide receiver on offense. The defense has holes at both Star and Money linebacker, replacing Cam Bright, Johnny Petrishen and Phil Campbell III, and Damarri Mathis will be replaced at cornerback.
The addition of Notre Dame transfer Shayne Simon is expected to fill the Money slot, and the battle for the Star position will feature the likes of Bangally Kamara and Brandon George. As the pads come on in the coming practices, the on-field action will begin to pick up.
Newcomers in 2022
Kedon Slovis – 9
Addison Copeland – 11
Konata Mumpfield – 14
Samuel Okunlola – 17
Ryland Gandy – 18
Marquan Pope – 29
Shayne Simon – 32
Sean FitzSimmons – 55
Ryan Baer – 70
Trevor Faulkner – 87
Sam Vander Haar – 94
Rodney Hammond Jr. – 6, switched from 9