Happy Monday, folks. Pitt is off from practice this week, so content on the blog will be a little lighter than usual during spring practice. Today, I thought I'd go through and put together a two-deep based on what we've seen at practices so far. This is unofficial, and just from my observations. Also, keep in mind a lot of guys who figure to play key roles are injured. I won't include them, but they're listed in italics below their positions. Away we go...
Quarterback: 1) RS Sr. Tom Savage (6-5, 230); 2) RS Fr. Chad Voytik (6-1, 205)
Notes: Savage has gotten the lion's share of the reps so far in practice. I don't expect Paul Chryst to name a 2013 starter any time soon, but it certainly looks like Savage has the inside track. His size, arm strength and experience are valuable. That said, he's definitely showing a little rust after the two-year layoff from football. That's perfectly normal and expected now, but he'll have to shake it off at some point to lock up the job.
Running back: 1) So. Rushel Shell (6-0, 215); 2) Jr. Isaac Bennett (5-11, 205)
Notes: No real surprises here. Shell is the guy, and Bennett, along with Malcolm Crockett and Demitrious Davis will battle for playing time as the change-of-pace back. I actually really like what I've seen from Davis so far. He's a little small, but definitely shifty. Pitt is going to need one of these guys to step up and provide some production to spell Shell.
Fullback: 1) RS Jr. Mark Giubilato (6-2, 230); 2) RS. Jr. Adam Lazenga (6-0, 235)
Notes: Nothing really here. Same as last year.
Wide receiver: 1) RS Sr. Devin Street (6-4, 190) 2) RS Sr. Ed Tinker (6-2, 190) OR Jr. WR Ronald Jones (5-8, 170)
Notes: It's really hard to separate the guys behind Street, but Tinker and Jones have gotten the most first-team work out of that group. This is a position group that'll be pretty significantly affected this summer when Tyler Boyd arrives, so I would expect that second receiver spot to be pretty in flux right up until the opener.
Tight end: 1) So. JP Holtz (6-4, 245); 2) RS Jr. Drew Carswell (6-4, 220)
Notes: Holtz is your unquestioned No. 1 guy here, but behind him it's sort of interesting. Carswell and Manasseh Garner sort of play more of an H-back role, and flex out wide more often. True freshman Scott Orndoff is built more in Holtz's mold, and I'd expect him to see the field more as camp progresses.
Left tackle: 1) RS Fr. Adam Bisnowaty (6-6, 305); 2) RS Sr. Juantez Hollins (6-5, 330)
Left guard: 1) RS Sr. Cory King (6-6, 325); 2) RS Jr. Shane Johnson (6-5, 325)
Center: 1) RS Fr. Gabe Roberts (6-5, 295); 2) RS So. Artie Rowell (6-2, 300)
Right guard: 1) RS Jr. Matt Rotheram (6-6, 335); RS Sr. Ryan Schlieper (6-5, 310)
Right tackle: 1) RS Jr. TJ Clemmings (6-6, 290) OR RS Sr. Juantez Hollins (6-5, 330); 2) RS Jr. Arthur Doakes (6-6, 340)
Notes: A few things could change here. First, offensive line coach Jim Hueber told me that Ryan Schlieper still isn't 100 percent healthy from the foot injury that cost him the end of last season. Once he does, later in the spring and into fall, I wouldn't be surprised to see him challenge for either of the guards or the center spot. As you can see at right tackle, there's no real clear-cut leader in that position battle. Hueber said they expected TJ Clemmings to be further along than he is, hence Hollins getting a look there. If neither one of those guys thoroughly impresses the staff and wins the job this spring, incoming freshman Dorian Johnson will likely enter the mix in the fall.
Defensive end: 1) RS Jr. Bryan Murphy (6-2, 255); 2) Fr. Shakir Soto (6-3, 230)
Defensive tackle: 1) Sr. Aaron Donald (6-0, 275); 2) So. Darryl Render (6-2, 270)
Nose tackle: 1) RS Sr. Tyrone Ezell (6-4, 300); 2) Jr. Khaynin Mosley-Smith (6-0, 305)
Defensive end: 1) RS Jr. David Durham (6-1, 245); RS Sr. Jack Lippert (6-4, 280); RS So. Devin Cook (6-4, 235)
Notes: Cook seems like the logical option to start opposite Murphy at defensive end, but the depth behind those two is pretty perilously thin. Pitt has pretty good depth up the middle at defensive tackle and nose tackle, with freshman Tyrique Jarrett and redshirt freshman Terrell Jackson waiting in the wings at those spots. On the outside, though, I think Pitt's best option for depth is hoping Soto can bulk up a little bit, take advantage of spring ball and work his way onto the field next season.
Weakside linebacker: 1) RS Jr. Todd Thomas (6-2, 215); 2) RS So. Ejuan Price (6-0, 235)
Notes: Todd Thomas is one of the surest things on this depth chart and, behind Aaron Donald, probably Pitt's best defensive playmaker. Price has gotten the bulk of second-team reps so far, and the staff has even moved him around in a couple of 3-4 looks with the second unit. Nicholas Grigsby would be the other guy in the mix here, and I would expect him to get some more looks with the second team as spring progresses.
Middle linebacker: 1) RS Fr. Mike Caprara (6-0, 200); 2) RS Fr. Devon Porchia (6-2, 225); RS Sr. Shane Gordon (6-1, 220); RS Sr. Dan Mason (6-0, 240)
Notes: At this point, this looks like a bit of a concern. Gordon (neck injury) and Mason (off-field issue) are both out indefinitely, and I would expect either one of them to take over the starting spot if and when they get back on the field. That said, it's nice for Caprara to be getting some first team reps. Both guys ahead of him look like they could be injury risks heading into the season, so having a ready and able backup is paramount.
Strongside linebacker: 1) RS Jr. Anthony Gonzalez (6-3, 210); 2) RS Fr. Deaysean Rippy (6-2, 200)
Notes: Bam Bradley has also gotten some run with the second team, but Rippy is usually the first guy out here. This is definitely a position that's up for grabs, as Gonzalez really only took the starting spot at the very end of last season. Both Rippy and Bradley have a ton of athleticism and potential, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them push Gonzalez for this spot.
Field cornerback: 1) RS So. Lafayette Pitts (5-11, 195); 2) RS Sr. EJ Banks (5-11, 190); RS Jr. Cullen Christian (6-0, 195)
Notes: Pitts is the unquestioned starter here, but I think Christian will ultimately end up as the backup. He has sat out of practice so far this spring with a calf sprain.
Strong safety: 1) RS Jr. Ray Vinopal (5-10, 190); 2) RS Fr. Jevonte Pitts (5-11, 205)
Free safety: 1) RS Jr. Eric Williams (6-3, 215); 2) RS Fr. Ryan Lewis (6-0, 180); RS Sr. Jason Hendricks (6-0, 180)
Notes: I combined these because I think there's a certain amount of mix-and-match ability with the safeties. Once Hendricks is healthy, you can pencil him in for that free safety starting spot. That said, I think the staff likes Williams' athletic ability at safety, so they're going to do what they can to get him on the field, whether that's in nickel packages or subbing in for Vinopal at the strong safety spot.
Boundary cornerback: 1) Sr. K'Waun Williams (5-10, 190); 2) RS Fr. Trenton Coles (6-3, 195); RS Fr. Jahmahl Pardner (5-11, 170)
Notes: Williams is clearly the guy here, Pardner's injury has given Coles a shot with the second unit. Coles has also served as the team's primary nickelback in those packages, as Pardner did before he got hurt last season. Ultiamtely, I think Pardner will regain that spot once he gets healthy, but until then, it'll be interesting to see what Coles can do. He's reportedly the fastest guy on the time, and that kind of speed with a 6-3 frame is an enticing prospect at the cornerback spot.
Kicker: 1) RS Jr. Drake Greer (6-4, 200) OR RS Fr. Brad Lukasak (6-0, 175)
Notes: Haven't really seen enough of these guys to truly separate them. Plus, I get the sense Chris Blewitt is going to be the favorite to win the job once he arrives this summer.
Punter: 1) RS Sr. Matt Yoklic (6-4, 215); 2) Nobody
Notes: Needless to say, not a whole lot of intrigue here.
So there you have it. Keep in mind this will be a pretty fluid chart as guys get healthy and coaches experiment a little bit more. I think this is a pretty solid start, so we'll keep an eye on how it changes moving forward.