Shocker, I know. The worst-kept secret around Pitt football is finally not a secret any more. Panthers coach Paul Chryst announced today that Chad Voytik will, indeed, be the starter for Pitt's opener against Delaware Aug. 30.
Voytik took every single first team snap this training camp, so this really isn't a surprise, and Chryst even admitted as much.
"He's taken all the reps with the ones," Chryst said. "I think he's proud, and he should be, of the work he's done. But he wasn't real high. I think all of them are competitive and want to play, and I think absolutely it means something to them. I don't think he feels like he's arrived or anything like that, and that's what I like about it. He keeps working."
And Voytik said that, even though this was a designation he knew was coming, it means something to earn the official title of "starter." In fact, as training camp progressed, he began to get a little antsy as to when the official announcement would come.
"It feels good," he said. "I have been getting the 'one' reps, but being named is an honor and I am just so excited to play in nine days.
"We're all getting kind of anxious, looking at the clock on the wall counting it down. We are all excited."
In other news, Chryst shed some light on the running back situation. He said that, as of right now, Pitt still have five running backs (James Conner, Isaac Bennett, Rachid Ibrahim, Qadree Ollison and Chris James) that could see action against Delaware. As Pitt heads into game week, though, Chryst said that number will likely get down to four, with only three guys really getting into the rotation. Here's the exact quote:
"I think we've got five guys that can play. We'll pare it down a little bit. It's hard to get five ready. It was good getting Isaac back going. I liked the way James worked. Rachid has done a really nice job. He's a guy that's truly made improvements from spring to fall camp. And the two young guys have done a good job.
"We'll visit on that a little bit, and make sure we get four guys ready. Really, you're getting three ready and then another that in any kind of situation can help."
Conner is obviously a shoo-in to play, but it seems like both other spots are up for grabs. Bennett is the best back in playbook knowledge and pass protection, which makes him a valuable asset on third downs. I also think it's still hard to believe James will stay off the field. That said, nothing would really surprise me. Ibrahim and Ollison have both looked good in training camp, so that'll be one big thing to watch in the opener.
Chryst also confirmed Thursday that redshirt sophomore Reggie Mitchell will be the starting cornerback opposite Lafayette Pitts for the opener. That means Avonte Maddox will likely be the first defensive back off the bench in nickel situations.