Pitt notebook: Starting right guard almost wasn't a Panther
Ryan Schlieper has earned his spot as Pitt's starting right guard, but he can thank former quarterback Kevan Smith's baseball career for getting him to the school in the first place.
Schlieper, a North Allegheny graduate, settled for a scholarship offer from Maryland in 2009 when Pitt — his first choice — ran out of scholarships.
Two days before signing day, he got a call from the Pitt coaching staff: A scholarship had opened up when Smith was forced to choose between baseball and football. Schlieper quickly canceled his Maryland plans.
Smith, a catcher, became one of the best players in the Big East and was drafted in the seventh round last year by the Chicago White Sox. This season, he's hitting .276 with 10 home runs and 77 RBI in two Single-A leagues.
Schlieper started eight games last season for Pitt and looks to be permanent fixture this year.
“He is really progressing,” said line coach Jim Hueber, who has worked hard to control the physical and mental aspects of Schlieper's game.
“I don't want the game to get too big for him. He's got to stay in there and concentrate on every play. If he does that, he comes out of it pretty good. You just can't let his mind wander. He's a good guy, a hard worker.”
Hueber is demanding in practice, but he also knows the life of a lineman isn't easy.
“These guys probably took somewhere around 100 hits (per day during camp),” he said. “To do that every day, keep your focus and still keep your love for the game and not let your mind wander ... We have to teach them how to do that. Then, we'll be OK.”
No redshirt for Holtz
Freshman J.P. Holtz of Shaler is No. 3 on the depth chart at tight end, which means coaches have no plans to redshirt him this season.
“I'm trying to help the team out with whatever I can do,” he said. “If it's one rep a game, it's one rep a game. That's what I came here to do: Work and try to play my freshman year, and it happened.”
Holtz, 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, said he has adjusted well to the physical aspects of the game. Mentally, it's a challenge.
“The mental (part) is all the things you have to do,” he said. “Learning the plays, school, your social life, you can't be out the night before practice, adapting to all the new things, being on your own as an adult. But I'm ready to play. I'd rather play than sit on the sidelines.”
Running back Isaac Bennett returned to practice after missing some time last week to rest his sore knees.
“The doctor said I was born with loose kneecaps,” he said. “I guess my knee came out, and it got a little inflamed. I'm good now.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 holds off Virginia Tech in ACC opener
- Pitt notebook: Voytik proves value by baffling Hokies with running ability
- Defense is 1st priority at Pitt hoops opens practice
- Pitt coach McConnell-Serio confident in young team
- Pitt, Virginia Tech patch holes in lineup
- Pitt defensive front wreaking havoc on QBs
- Hurricane Joaquin could impact Pitt-Va. Tech game
- Pitt freshman RB Hall out against Virginia Tech
- UCLA transfer Clark to visit Pitt
- Pitt LBs coach draws inspiration from late brother’s cancer battle
- False fire alarm awakens Pitt players, coaches 12 hours before kickoff