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Pitt Football

Sights and Sounds From Pitt’s First Padded Spring Practice of 2022



PITTSBURGH — It’s a Friday on the South Side, and the pads are finally on at Pitt’s third spring practice of 2022. It almost feels like football is back in Pittsburgh.

Pitt wasn’t going at in 11-on-11s, yet, but the pads were popping. Kedon Slovis, Nick Patti and Davis Beville continued to take the top reps at quarterback in working in handoffs, run-pass options and quick throws to the slant drills available the media Friday. The offense, aside from the quarterback battle, is largely locked up.

The running backs room, led by Israel Abanikanda, has three starting-caliber running backs, according to head coach Pat Narduzzi. The entire starting offensive line returned in 2022, Lucas Krull’s starting tight end spot is transitioning to Gavin Bartholomew and Pitt’s wide receiving room is very deep.

It’s been more of the same with Pitt’s wide receiving drills available to the media. Jordan Addison is the best of the best, and Jared Wayne — who looks even bigger in 2022 — and Konata Mumpfield will be impact players. Mumpfield looks like a freshman All-American, his route running crisp and his ball skills phenomenal.

Jaylon Barden, Jaden Bradley and Addison Copeland could make a bigger impact in 2022, with continued development throughout spring practices.

With the pads finally on (11 more left this spring, give or take, before the spring game in April), the position battles on defense can begin to take shape. The most pressing need comes at linebacker, where both the Star and Money spot need to be filled. Notre Dame transfer Shayne Simon, the likely Money option, looked long and lean with pads on. Bangally Kamara popped, showing a lot of physicality as he looks to secure a spot in the starting lineup.

Brandon George and Marquan Pope both looked strong in drills available to the media. Pope, an early enrollee out of Texas, is already up to what looks to be 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. The converted safety is practicing at Star, along with fellow converted safety Buddy Mack III.

Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge worked with the defensive line Friday during drills available to the media, working on refining a unit that finished second in college football in sacks in 2021. Habakkuk Baldonado, Calijah Kancey and Deslin Alexandre are back on the defensive line, but Dayon Hayes continues to look like a monster.

He’s looked bigger, faster and stronger in a 6-foot-3, 275-pound frame so far this spring, and it’s continued to show even as he barrels through during padded drills. He’s going to be a force in 2022. The young guns on the defensive line Dorien Ford (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) and Elliot Donald (6-foot-2, 270 pounds) have clearly been in the weight room as the duo are huge.

Tackling wasn’t always a strength in Pitt’s secondary last season, but it’s clear during the drills available to the media, that Pitt is working at correcting those mistakes in 2022. Erick Hallett and Brandon Hill have been leaders so far this spring, returning as the starting safety duo, and some depth has emerged.

P.J. O’Brien and Stephon Hall have both looked fast during the early days of the spring practices. Hall didn’t play last season, redshirting as a true freshman, but with a 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, he could be looking at making an impact in year two in the system. After all, that Central Valley to Pitt safety connection is overdue with Jordan Whitehead off in the NFL.

On a special teams note, early enrollee Sam Vander Haar has taken the first team reps at punter through the first three spring practices of 2022. The Australian freshman has somewhat of a rugby-style boot so far in drills made available to the media.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Justin Dietrich
Justin Dietrich
8 months ago

How is Yellen not in the portal yet?

8 months ago

Dayon Hayes should have started last year. He was super impressive just about every time he got to play.


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