Jake Kradel and Blake Zubovic operated together on the offensive line last season, and their presence on the inside basically came as a package deal.
As Kradel slid inside to serve as Pitt’s starting center, it opened up a spot for Zubovic to be penciled in as Pitt’s starting right guard. So, it only made sense that the pair would announce their return together.
Kradel and Zubovic both announced that they will utilize their COVID seasons to return to Pitt for one more season.
— Jake Kradel (@JakeKradel) January 9, 2023
Kradel started all 13 game for Pitt in 2022, beginning the season at right guard before sliding into the injured Owen Drexel’s spot at center.
In his Pitt career, he’s played in 43 games — making 38 snaps at right guard and center. His final season appears to be set at center, where he provided a steadying presence for Pitt’s offense.
Kradel recorded 874 offensive snaps in 2022 (600 at center, 265 at right guard and seven as an inline tight end), and he’s a big returner on the offensive line.
— Big Z (@blake_zubovic66) January 9, 2023
Zubovic played in all 13 games in 2022, making nine starts at right guard after sliding into the lineup as Kradel moved inside.
In his Pitt career, he’s played in 33 games — making 15 starts dating back to 2019. And Zubovic will very likely be called upon at right guard again in 2023.
Zubovic recorded 663 offensive snaps in 2022, 658 of which came at right guard.
Sun Bowl starters Branson Taylor (left tackle) and Matt Goncalves (right tackle) will also return for Pitt in 2023, which leaves four linemen who started at least four games last season.
Despite the losses of Carter Warren, Marcus Minor, Gabe Houy and Drexel, Pitt’s offensive line (especially with players like Ryan Jacoby and Ryan Baer) will have potential next season.
Offensive line coach Dave Borbely’s biggest task will be to find who will replace Minor at left guard next season.