PITTSBURGH — I don’t know if it was the humidity or the rain, but Pitt moved inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex Monday morning to start the second week of summer camp.
The start of a new week of practice, at least in drills available to the media, didn’t have the same level of fire as Friday’s outdoor practice. It wasn’t as crisp a day, performance-wise, as Friday either.
Once again, I spent the majority of my time watching the quarterbacks and wide receivers, getting a gauge for the progression in the room, but I did notice some new ‘takeaway’ stickers on the defensive side of the ball.
There were a lot of drops Monday. Mainly on fades but still. The connection between the quarterbacks and the wide receivers wasn’t very crisp. But I like what I continue to see out of freshman wide receivers Zion Fowler-El and Lamar Seymore.
We know that Pitt wide receivers in junior Konata Mumpfield and redshirt senior Bub Means will play a lot in 2023, likely Florida transfer redshirt sophomore Daejon Reynolds, too, but we don’t know which of the four freshmen will see the field.
Fowler-El, Seymore, Israel Polk and Kenny Johnson are all in the mix. And I do want to see more of second-year guys in Addison Copeland and Che Nwabuko — it’s about finding a way to utilize Nwabuko’s considerable speed.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Samuel Okunlola, “Sammy O” as he’s sometimes known, is a big man. He’s only in his second season in the program, but he looks every bit of the 6-foot-4, 245 pounds he’s listed at. I think with the experienced depth on the interior of the defensive line, with redshirt seniors David Green, Devin Danielson and Tyler Bentley all returning, there’s more opportunity for an injection of youth on the outside.
Redshirt sophomore Nahki Johnson is my bet to slide in across from senior Dayon Hayes, but I like Okunlola and redshirt first-year Jimmy Scott to push redshirt seniors Nate Temple and Bam Brima for edge depth.
Defensive backs in redshirt junior Ryland Gandy and senior Buddy Mack III and redshirt junior linebacker Aydin Henningham all wore ‘takeaway’ stickers on their helmets, showcasing that they’ve either hauled in an interception or scooped up a fumble during 11 v. 11 work in practice. Gandy is someone who impressed as a freshman last season and should push the vets ahead of him for playing time.
And admittedly, I didn’t expect Mack — a converted linebacker — to do much this season, but Pitt safeties coach Cory Sanders mentioned he played well during Pitt’s first practice and even dropped another potential pick. There are lots of options in the safeties room. We’ll see how the rotation plays out.