Carter Warren and Deslin Alexandre have been going at it for a long time, and while both could’ve left Pitt after the season to test the NFL Draft waters, both ultimately decided to come back for one more run.
And with both Warren and Alexandre back, the battles have resumed during practice, in the weight room and on the field. There’s trash talk on both sides, but the goal is to help each other get better and better — and that extends to both the offensive and defensive lines. After all, there’s often no harder test for Pitt’s offensive linemen than their defensive teammates.
“Our o-line talks about it all the time,” Alexandre said Tuesday at Pitt’s UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “Most of their better competition comes from us, even on game days, so we’re really excited about that.”
With a sort of halfway point between Pitt’s spring practices and fall camps, Pitt may be in the midst of official visits and recruiting camps, but voluntary workouts have been taking place four times a week lately. And with the desire to start fast in 2022, Alexandre broke it down just being consistent.
“Consistency,” Alexandre said. “Just being consistent on little things, we talk about the minute details all day, every day, and that’s just the difference between something big and something small.”
“It’s been good,” Warren said. “The guys have been working hard, everybody’s excited to be back, and I’m pumped up for the season.”
Jordan Addison is Out, Bub Means is In
Jordan Addison’s exit is an extensively covered topic at this point, with a majority of Pitt fans turning the corner, and Pitt’s players have largely done the same.
“We’re happy for him,” Warren said. “He had a great opportunity, he left and good for him, but we’re focused on this team right now. And I feel like we just focus on our room.”
Alexandre said that collectively, Pitt’s players wish Addison all the best, but they all want to focus on the players still in the room. He mentioned the obvious names like Jared Wayne and Konata Mumpfield, but he also pointed out that Louisiana Tech transfer Bub Means has been a great addition to the team. And Warren echoed that sentiment.
“Bub Means, I’ve seen him doing 7v7. He’s pretty good, man,” Warren said. “I’m excited to see him on the field.”
Means, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound wide receiver from Louisiana Tech by way of Tennessee, isn’t certain to see the field for Pitt in 2022. The two-time transfer, who isn’t a graduate transfer, will need a waiver to play in 2022, but he could be a key piece in the offense.
As a big, fast outside receiver in Louisiana Tech’s offense last season, hauling in 430 yards and two touchdowns — both touchdowns coming on receptions of 20 plus yards — on just 22 receptions, Means could benefit as a key outside receiver alongside Wayne and Jaden Bradley.
If Means is eligible to play in 2022, look out for yet another sleeper wide receiver (along with guys like Bradley, 2022 enrollee Che Nwabuko, etc.).
Veteran Leaders Across the Board
Alexandre and Warren have often been lauded as key leaders for Pitt entering 2022, along with Kedon Slovis, Nick Patti, John Morgan, SirVocea Dennis, Brandon Hill, and Warren mentioned Wayne by name.
As the veteran voice of Pitt’s wide receiving corps, Wayne was already expected to be the go-to target and a leader in the room, but it’s clear that he’s even taken that next step to take on a broad leadership role that extends even beyond the wide receiver’s room.
With a core group of veteran leaders returning in 2022, even with the age of instability in college football hitting Pitt, Alexandre feels like Pitt is well-equipped to handle the comings and goings around the college football landscape. It all starts with the guys in the room and the culture that’s been built.
“You’d think (it would be harder to be leaders in today’s landscape), but I think what takes advantage of that is culture, culture that’s created day after day,” Alexandre said. “The culture is really what makes it easier to be a leader because guys are not worried about their stuff, it’s we not me. It’s the sum of the whole is bigger than all of us.”
The “We Not Me” motto was prevalent last season, and it likely won’t be going anywhere this season either.
Pitt is familiar with an ACC title now, even with slip-ups during the 2021 season — a notable example coming against Western Michigan — but that learning lesson hasn’t been forgotten. It’s been taken exactly as that, a lesson to show what cannot take place again in 2022. And that starts with the veteran leaders.
“In the grand scheme of things we won the ACC championship, but a game like Western Michigan, where we weren’t dotting all our I’s and crossing all out T’s, a game like that shows up,” Alexandre said. “So we want to make sure something like that happens again last year.”