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Ticket sales on the upswing for Panthers

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said football season-ticket sales are "seven percent ahead" of last year, when the Panthers' 42,000 tickets sold ranked third-highest in school history.

"We are on pace to surpass that total right now," Pederson said. "The momentum has been great. I think this is a result of the success we had last season and that this is a great value in the marketplace. When you can come see great college football at an affordable price, it makes a great difference."

• Of the position battles, the one that concerns Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt most is finding a tailback to replace leading rushers LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Redshirt sophomore Shariff Harris and freshmen Chris Burns, Ray Graham, Jason Hendricks and Dion Lewis will compete for the starting job.

"We have to run the ball," Wannstedt said. "Getting that player — or committee of players — ready to go is a challenge. ... You'd like to have one, but that's a luxury. Most of the great ones I've been around — the Hall of Famers and All-Pros — have to get their 20 carries to be effective. It would be great if someone separated himself from the pack during two-a-days."

• Wannstedt said the only incoming freshman who didn't qualify academically is Todd Thomas, a receiver from Beaver Falls. Thomas is expected to attend Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., and could enroll in January if he meets NCAA guidelines.

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