ShareThis Page

Pitt notebook: Shell misses another practice, 2 RBs hurt

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, March 29, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

The fragile Pitt running back situation took another unfortunate turn Friday.

With troubled sophomore Rushel Shell missing his third consecutive practice while pondering a transfer, backups Malcolm Crockett and Demitrious Davis suffered leg and ankle injuries and sat out most of the session.

That left the ground game in the scrimmage to one scholarship back — junior Isaac Bennett, who continues to run hard and show some cutting ability — and senior walk-on Desmond Brown.

Brown, the brother of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, said he appreciated the workload, especially when Chryst matched the No. 1 defense against the No. 2 offense.

Actually, he would have accepted more, he said.

“I was up for the challenge,” Brown said. “I don't know why he stopped (practice) so soon.”

“Guys like that,” coach Paul Chryst said, “especially in a scrimmage where there are winners and losers.”

Pad-popping hits

Linebackers Todd Thomas and Nicholas Grigsby and safety Eric Williams recorded the biggest — and loudest — hits of the day.

Thomas, who surfaced unblocked in the backfield on several occasions, said it was either hit or be hit when he leveled Bennett.

“Isaac is a big boy,” Thomas said of the 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back. “My theory was I have to get to him before he gets to me. He runs hard.”

Brown laughed when asked about the hit by Grigsby.

“He got me that time,” he said. “He got under my pads. I didn't see any stars. I was a little winded. That was about it.”

Scoring points with coach

There was no word on the extent of the injuries to Crockett and Davis. Chryst said Crockett initially hurt his leg Thursday but didn't miss any snaps.

“The leg was bothering him, but he tried to go,” Chryst said. “You appreciate that.”

Lessons learned

Chryst kept practice lively, stopping once to bring players together in a massive huddle to lecture them.

He also became visibly upset and yelled “selfish” when tight end J.P. Holtz and defensive end Shakir Soto tangled after a whistle, making the players aware that such actions usually turn into penalties.

Long way to go

Chryst admitted that practices are becoming more physical as players get accustomed to their roles and the playbook.

With six sessions remaining, however, he said, “You can just see where we're clearly not where we have to be.”

Thomas said Chryst is increasing the tempo of practices this year.

“We are in the ACC now,” he said. “We have to throw it all in. It's definitely getting harder. I like how he is turning things around.”


When Chryst was asked if Shell might return to practice before the end of spring drills April 12, he declined comment. ... Among the visitors to practice were Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon and Belle Vernon 5-star offensive lineman Dorian Johnson, who will enroll this summer. ... Quarterback Tom Savage was the first to work with the starters, but he and Chad Voytik received equal opportunities. Savage hit Devin Street with a 65-yard touchdown, and Voytik found tight end Manasseh Garner uncovered on the sideline. Garner's momentum, however, carried him out of bounds.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.