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Pitt notebook: Bulked-up Coles making push in deep secondary

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Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, 6:12 p.m.

When Trenton Coles arrived at Pitt last summer, he weighed 158 pounds and his hamstring ached. A healthy hamstring, 17 more pounds, a newly acquired knowledge of the defense and a large dose of confidence have carried him toward a possibly impactful position in a strong Panthers secondary.

“I'm comfortable now, because I was thinking too much (in the spring),” Coles said. “Whenever you think too much, you can't play fast.”

Coles is competing against fellow redshirt freshman Jahmahl Pardner and junior Brendon Felder for one of the top reserve cornerback positions.

Coles is playing cornerback in the nickel and dime defenses and could become the top backup to starter Lafayette Pitts. Coles has outstanding speed — he was the WPIAL and PIAA Class AA 100- and 200-meter champion as a junior at Clairton in 2011 — but the extra weight will help Saturday when the team puts on full pads for the first time this summer.

“I get four meals a day here,” said Coles, who was noted for his physical play in high school. “That's a plus.”

Coles often lines up against former Clairton teammates Kevin Weatherspoon and Tyler Boyd, who are competing for playing time at receiver.

Asked who wins most of the time, Coles said, “I'm getting them right now.”

• Coach Paul Chryst had no comment after junior linebacker Todd Thomas missed his third consecutive day of practice. Thomas informed Chryst on Wednesday that he intended to quit the team, but Thomas' high school basketball coach, Doug Biega, said the former Beaver Falls star told him he wants to return.

• Former running backs coach Desmond Robinson was named player personnel director, with an emphasis on recruiting. Dann Kabala, who was player personnel director, will become recruiting coordinator. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph will coach running backs and turn over tight ends to second-year graduate assistant Mickey Turner, who played tight end at Wisconsin under Chryst and Rudolph.

• Ticket requests for the Florida State game Sept. 2 at Heinz Field will begin Saturday and can be made by phoning 1-800-643-7488. Ticket sales for other home games begin Sept. 3 at or by calling the ticket office.

• Chryst was named an honorary trustee on the board of directors of the St. Anthony School programs. St. Anthony is a school for students with intellectual disabilities/autism.

— Jerry DiPaola

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