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Sights and Sounds: Thursday Practice Before Long Weekend, One Week to Go



PITTSBURGH — Let’s kick this off with some of the recruits who were in attendance Thursday.

DayDay Farmer, Pitt’s four-star wide receiver commit, checked out practice, and he was joined by four-star wide receiver target Keylen Adams (Virginia Beach, Virginia).

WPIAL star and four-star linebacker Cam Lindsey (Aliquippa, Pennsylvania) made yet another visit to the facility, and four-star linebacker Brian Robinson (Youngstown, Ohio) made what seems like his weekly appearance at practice.

New York three-star tight end Korey Duff Jr. (Melville, New York) made his first visit to Pitt, too.

That’s a lot of talent in attendance, just to name a few, to check out Pitt’s 12th practice of the spring and chop it up with the coaching staff — and each other.

Pitt was inside Thursday, as a light rain fell outside, and it marked the end of Week 4. There will be a long weekend off before next week’s practice resumes. And the 2023 Blue-Gold Spring Game is just over a week away now.

We know that Phil Jurkovec is the starting quarterback now, even if it’s not officially official, but the battle between Christian Veilleux and Nate Yarnell is interesting.

I like both quarterbacks. They both look the part. But with the way Pitt rotates quarterbacks during practice, Jurkovec and Veilleux come in, and then Yarnell and Dieffenbach come in.

Pat Narduzzi said the competition will continue into the summer, not hard to guess why he says that.

The punting competition, an entire session available to the media during practice, is still ongoing, too. Caleb Junko takes reps with the 1s and Jeff Yurk with the 2s. It’s still a work in progress. A poor snap led to another blocked punt — after two on Tuesday.

I watched more of the defensive line Thursday, too. It’s a young unit, obviously, but man, there’s some good talent. David Green and Devin Danielson are the old heads, and I think their leadership and production are key, but it’s the kids that are raising excitement levels.

We’ve heard all about Samuel Okunlola and Jimmy Scott, dating back to their true freshman season last year, this spring and I think both will play this coming season. Okunlola is long and lean, blessed with that explosive speed off the edge, and Scott is a powerhouse, a load to stop on the outside.

Sean FitzSimmons earned a lot of praise last spring as an early enrollee, and Isaiah ‘Ghost’ Neal’s turn this season. His intelligence has been lauded, but it’s easy to see his speed and agility in a 6-foot-2, 265-pound frame.

And that’s all without mentioning Dayon Hayes, Bam Brima and Dayon Hayes — who form a very nice, very high upside core on the edge, too.

The defense, as a whole, has risen to the challenge this spring. There are tons of ‘takeaway’ stickers on helmets, defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs alike, and by all accounts, it’s been a couple of dominant defensive showings over the last two weekends.

There have been lots of sacks, and as Narduzzi has said, it’s the turnovers that have kept Pitt’s defense in the blue jerseys.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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