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Pitt Football

Sights and Sounds: Pitt Practice Heads Outdoors for First Time in 2022

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PITTSBURGH — In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, Pitt was feeling lucky and ventured outside into the elements for the first outdoor practice of 2022 Thursday morning at the UPMC Sports Complex.

As the morning clouds faded into a bright, sunny day down on the South Side, the energy and excitement in the air provided a fresh look at Pitt’s progress through the early days of the 2022 spring practices. With a full field to work with, Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti were able to show off their arms in drills available to the media, and Pitt’s quest to replace some key defensive starters continued.

With offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr.’s voice cutting through the morning air, Pitt’s resident quarterbacks’ guru watched as Slovis and Patti ran light drills with the running backs and wide receivers. Both quarterbacks, along with Davis Beville and Joey Yellen, worked through drills as the competition continues into the spring.

The drills available to the media don’t exactly showcase the true progress either quarterback is making in Pitt’s system, but it’s clear from the coaching staff and players that both quarterbacks are firmly in the race.

With wide receivers like Jordan Addison and Konata Mumpfield to throw to, it’s an enviable job to be won for either Slovis or Patti, and the depth options being the Big 3 are beginning to sort themselves out. Addison Copeland’s adjustment to the college level continues and younger guys like Jaylon Barden and Jaden Bradley continue to progress.

Addison, Mumpfield and Jared Wayne will play a lot in 2022, but it’s interesting to see which No. 4 option can emerge as a playmaker on Pitt’s wider sets or in the event of an injury.

On the defensive side of the ball, while head coach Pat Narduzzi expressed after practice Tuesday how the linebackers are a bit behind where he’d like to be at this point in the spring, the development continues. SirVocea Dennis is a constant in Pitt’s defense and it’s clear to see he’s leading the room by example — and with a new voice — as the spring continues.

The battle for Star linebacker is the biggest storyline on Pitt’s defense still, as Notre Dame transfer Shayne Simon has begun to integrate into the linebacking corps on the other side of Dennis, and Bangally Kamara’s adaptation to Star is something to continue watching.

Early enrollee Marquan Pope has earned praise from Narduzzi, and Solomon DeShields, Brandon George and Buddy Mack III have all been working at earning increased playing time in 2022. And with Preston Lavant’s transfer portal entrance Wednesday, it’s a group that’s already going to be playing a lot with the lack of depth.

Pitt’s greatest defensive strength, the defensive line led by Charlie Partridge, flashed Thursday. Aside from Keyshon Camp, it’s the same unit that left off in 2021, and budding star Dayon Hayes figures to make even more of an impact in 2022, even if he doesn’t begin the season as a starter.

Tyler Bentley has earned praise from teammates as someone who could make more of an impact in 2022, and the younger guys like Elliot Donald and Dorien Ford have both bulked up in size and strength as the pair look to breakthrough on Pitt’s defensive line.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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