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Running back remains 'unsettled' for Panthers

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 5:30 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt running back Isaac Bennett breaks away from Todd Thomas during the Panthers' spring game on Friday, April 12, 2013, at Bethel Park High School.
Christopher Horner
Pitt running back Isaac Bennett carries for a long gain during the Blue-Gold spring game Saturday April 14, 2012 at Martorelli Stadium in Ross.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst is seldom satisfied with most aspects of his team, and the running back depth chart is no different.

Chryst said Thursday on an ACC coaches conference call that the position is “unsettled.” He made no reference to sophomore running back Rushel Shell, the presumed starter at the start of spring drills before he quit the team with the intent to transfer.

Shell's departure leaves the position to junior Isaac Bennett and redshirt sophomore Malcolm Crockett.

“(They) did some good things (in the spring),” Chryst said. “We have a chance if they can keep working and growing.”

He noted James Conner of Erie McDowell will join the team this summer, but he still hasn't graduated from high school.

“I like some of the things we are doing, but we certainly aren't where we want to be right now,” he said.

Asked about the move to the ACC, he said the focus at the moment is on his players, not upcoming opponents.

“We certainly respect and appreciate the opponents, but so much of what we're doing right now is focusing on how can we be better as individuals, which will make us better as a team.”

Meanwhile, Chryst is hoping to see his senior class start to exhibit leadership, something some of them appear eager to do.

“You are as good as your seniors are,” Chryst said. “We've had discussions. Talking to guys, I think they are ready to take ownership (of the team).

“I like the way the guys are starting to think about wanting to have those roles.”

Pitt will take a small senior class into its first season in the ACC. Only seven of 22 projected starters are in their final year of eligibility.

Chryst emphasized a point he made repeatedly during spring drills that the upcoming precamp workouts, which will roughly coincide with the start of classes May 13, will be important to team development.

“You are a little nervous not being around these players (according to NCAA regulations), but it does give the team a great opportunity,” he said.

Proper priorities

Boston College coach Steve Addazio said the cancellation of the spring game in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing will have no effect on the team.

“Would 20 more snaps with the first team make that much of a difference?” he said. “No.”

He also said that senior defensive tackle and Laurel Highlands graduate Kaleb Ramsey, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility due to an injury-plagued career, is poised to have a good season.

“He's the kind of guy I was used to seeing in the SEC,” said Addazio, a former assistant at Florida. “He is very physical, very powerful, very athletic and was very disruptive in the spring.”

Brown mending

Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown, a Seneca Valley graduate, has been cleared to practice this summer after tearing an ACL in his knee last year, coach Randy Edsall said.

Brown was not permitted to have contact in the spring, but Edsall said his progress was evident in seven-on-seven drills.

“I was very pleased,” Edsall said. “You can see the confidence he was gaining each time he was out there.”

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

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