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Sights and Sounds: Second Week of Pitt’s Spring Practice Sessions Kick Off



Pitt defensive lineman Sean FitzSimmons.

PITTSBURGH — It’s the second week back in action on the South Side, and there will be three practice sessions available to the media this week, so there should be plenty to unpack.

Pitt remained indoors Tuesday, a bright but chilly morning, and it was business as usual. Phil Jurkovec, Christian Veilleux, Nate Yarnell and Ty Dieffenbach rotated through throws against the air, and the mini drills continued inside the indoor facility.

The energy around the facility was high. Football is clearly back on the South Side.

I came away impressed by Yarnell once again Tuesday. He throws a really nice ball. The quarterbacks were throwing against air, working a limited route tree with the running backs and receivers, but Yarnell fared the best.

It’s still going to be a competition between Jurkovec and Veilleux, even if Pitt says Yarnell is in a three-way battle, and we’re going to need to see more from both — especially as the pads come on — to determine anything. It’s only the second week of spring ball. I’d imagine there’s still some rust being shaken off even.

The duo of Rodney Hammond Jr. and Derrick Davis will be important for Pitt in 2023. I think Hammond’s in line for a big season, but if we know anything about Cignetti’s offense, it’s that he likes to use multiple running backs. Davis is big and physical, listed at 6-foot, 210 pounds and looking even bigger, and I think he will work very well as a complement to Hammond.

It’s probably still too early to tell exactly how someone like Lamar Seymore is adapting to the collegiate level, with just a handful of spring ball practices under his belt, but I think the spring will do him wonders. He looks every bit of 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, and I still think he’s in line to contribute this fall.

And while the quarterback competition will dominate the headlines, the punting competition is just as fierce.

Obviously, Sam Vander Haar wasn’t able to hold the starting spot last year, as he traded punts down the stretch with Caleb Junko and Cam Guess, but there’s a new option in the room in Elon’s Jeff Yurk.

And Tuesday, as there were, like, four balls shanked off the video board, Yurk was definitely the most impressive punter in the building. He put together an impressive career at Elon, and it will be interesting to see what he can do this spring.

Sean FitzSimmons and Samuel Okunlola earned praise all last spring for their early adaption to the defensive system, and it’s Isaiah Neal’s turn this spring. He’s fitting into the defensive line room seamlessly.

The youth of the defensive line should be on full display this coming season, but it’s nearly impossible for a true freshman to crack the rotation, nonetheless. If Neal is able to do it, he’ll need to learn very quickly this spring.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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