Pitt's LBs are experiencing growing pains
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, 11:36 p.m.
When Pitt coach Paul Chryst watches his linebackers, he sees a variety of athletes wrestling with the game at varying levels of skill and maturity:
• Those who are built and run like sprinters (Todd Thomas and Nicholas Grigsby)
• One who looks like a basketball player but has good skills in tracking a football (6-foot-3, 215-pound Eric Williams)
• One who might be able to create havoc with his size and speed (6-2, 223-pound Shane Gordon)
• Others who were injured but refuse to stay off the field (Dan Mason and Ejuan Price)
In this young, largely undersized group, Chryst also sees a microcosm of his team.
“There are a lot of question marks,” he said. “We have got to answer as many of those as we can.”
Practice started this week with Gordon in the middle of the 4-3 defense, flanked by redshirt sophomore Williams and redshirt freshman Grigsby. Williams and Grigsby are being pushed by Thomas and Price, sophomores who played extensively last season. Price, the heaviest of the top eight linebackers at 235 pounds, had four sacks in five games.
Gordon, a redshirt junior, is the most seasoned, playing in every game the past two years.
Chryst said Gordon is “instinctive,” and linebackers coach Chris Haering has definite plans for him: “Shane is going to be a guy that you need to find a place on the field for,” he said.
After the first two games last season, Gordon lost his starting job in the middle of the 3-4 scheme, replaced by seniors Tristan Roberts and Greg Williams. He also can play outside, but the new staff prefers to keep him inside.
“I'm still learning it, but I'm liking it,” he said.
Eric Williams, a redshirt sophomore, made a good first impression, picking off two passes and deflecting another Tuesday. For now, he is ahead of Thomas, who had left knee surgery in January and is easing his way back.
Thomas started six games last season, playing with a torn ACL in the final nine. He was given a scheduled day off Wednesday.
Williams' strong play and Thomas' experience only raise more questions. “How is Eric going to grow?” Chryst said. “Where is Todd at? Is he going to come along.”
Chryst said he is eager to find answers. “If they keep growing, it might be fun to watch,” he said.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7997.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt’s oldest known living football letterman turns 100
- Former Pitt coach Majors in stable condition after heart procedure
- Loss to Pitt propelled Clemson
- Loss to Pitt propelled Clemson
- Panthers Insider: Reeling Pitt faces must-win in Clemson
- With NCAA hopes on bubble, Pitt men treating Clemson as must-win
- Pitt pulls out 2OT win over Virginia Tech
- Altoona LB commits to Pitt for 2015
- Pitt outlasts host Notre Dame, 85-81, in overtime