Pitt coach Chryst shakes up linebackers on first day of practice
Pitt coach Paul Chryst said he doesn't pay attention to depth charts.
But he does believe in lighting fires under his players, and that was behind the surprising shift at outside linebacker on the opening of training camp Tuesday. Redshirt freshman Mike Caprara replaced redshirt junior Todd Thomas as the first-team strong-side (sam) linebacker while redshirt junior Anthony Gonzalez moved from sam to weak side.
Thomas, who started 13 games over the past two seasons, said the move was unexpected but perhaps necessary.
“I did (need motivation), a little bit, little extra,” Thomas said after practice. “I am going to keep working hard and see how it unfolds. ... That's how the cookie crumbles. I have to go out and earn a spot.”
Chryst downplayed the existence of first and second teams in practice, even though there is a clear division during drills.
“Right now, everyone has to prove they can provide a role that you can rely on and play with,” he said. “Then, you find out how many of those guys you can use.”
Thomas said he used the demotion as motivation while knocking away three passes. He practiced with an attitude, getting physical in coverage with tight end J.P. Holtz and running back Rachid Ibrahim.
“The motivation worked, definitely,” Thomas said.
Chryst said before practice that Thomas can make an impact.
“I think he can give us some stuff, but he can play at a higher level than what he's been, need him to. That's not negative.”
He added, however: “I think he thinks a lot of himself, you know, and match it.”
Told after practice that Thomas used the demotion as motivation, Chryst said, “I would hope so.”
“You love the energy he brings. You love the competitiveness he brings. If you look around, a lot of players respond to Todd. That's all good stuff.”
Caprara played strictly middle linebacker in the spring while starter Shane Gordon recovered from a neck injury.
He impressed coaches with his work ethic and instincts while growing from 197 pounds last year to 6-foot, 225 pounds when he weighed in Tuesday.
“We think Mike has a chance to be pretty good,” Chryst said. “He's clearly a linebacker, but I don't know which one.”
Caprara may be shorter than the typical outside linebacker, but he welcomes the challenge of playing a new position, one that requires more pass coverage than he has done in the past.
“It's different, just because I played middle linebacker all my life,” said Caprara, who was a four-year starter at Woodland Hills and the school's all-time leading tackler. “It's another challenge I'm excited for.”
He disputes the perception that he is an overachiever.
“That's for you guys (reporters) to decide,” he said. “I have a job, and I have to do it.”
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 offensive tackle Jones-Smith to miss season
- Pitt’s Boyd waives right to preliminary hearing
- Pitt star Conner befriends ailing Erie boy
- Pitt lands 4-star receiver from Ohio
- Pitt’s new athletic director Barnes looks to boost interest in teams
- Pitt’s Voytik to learn from the pros at Manning Passing Academy
- Pitt AD launches Panther Fans Experience Committee