Speedy Pitt freshman has 'Cutch connection

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011

They run faster than most players on their teams, but there is one other tie that binds Pitt freshman punt returner/wide receiver Ronald Jones to the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen.

When they want a little taste of home, they call Lorenzo McCutchen, the youth pastor at Peaceful Believers' Church in Fort Meade, Fla.

Lorenzo, who is Andrew's father, coached Jones in baseball and high school football.

"I am real close with him," said Jones, who has been the freshman sensation of Pitt training camp the past 2.5 weeks. "I go to his church sometimes and he preaches to us. I have talked to him about five times (by phone) since I've been up here."

Jones is looking forward to getting re-acquainted with Andrew McCutchen, who graduated from Fort Meade six years before him, but he hasn't called yet.

"But once the baseball season is over, I'm going to hit him up."

'I know that guy'

Pitt coach Todd Graham said Jones "has a lot of the similar characteristics" of Tulsa's Damaris Johnson, the NCAA all-time leader in all-purpose (7,796) and kickoff return (3,417) yards.

"Ronald's got a ways to go to be as good a route runner, but man, when he gets the ball, he knows what to do with it," said Graham, a former Tulsa coach.

"In camp, he is the one who has stuck out to me the most as far as being able to be an instant contributor from a big-play standpoint."

Jones is challenging redshirt junior Cameron Saddler for the No. 1 punt return job.

DeCicco looking at Wisconsin

Former Pitt tight end Brock DeCicco will make an official visit to Wisconsin on Friday and could join the football team this weekend.

If DeCicco transfers to another Division 1-A school, he must sit out this season, according to NCAA transfer rules. A redshirt sophomore, he would have two remaining years of eligibility. Wisconsin is one of the schools that offered DeCicco a scholarship when he left Thomas Jefferson High School in 2009.

DeCicco decided to transfer from Pitt earlier this month. The tight end is not a big part of Pitt's new offense under coach Todd Graham.

DeCicco caught two passes — both for touchdowns — for the Panthers last season.

Leaving the door open

Redshirt freshman H-back Anthony Gonzalez spends most of his practice time with the receivers, but he also runs the scout team as a quarterback to help the defense prepare for the next opponent.

"He is being a team guy," Graham said of Gonzalez's move to H-back. "He is still a quarterback. It is definitely not a deal where the door has been closed to him competing at quarterback in the future."

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