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Pitt wide receiver Street wants to leave football program as a winner

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt receiver Devin Street jumps for a catch on the first day of practice Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, on the South Side.

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Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
 

Pitt senior wide receiver Devin Street has seen enough.

Enough losing.

Enough half-hearted effort.

Enough cutting corners, even from coaches.

Street spoke candidly about strict punishment levied against players by coach Paul Chryst — he has no problem with it — and what might have led to successive 6-7 seasons that ended in soft efforts and blowout losses in bowl games.

“I've seen it over the years,” Street said Friday on TribLive Radio. “Sometimes, we weren't successful because guys were putting themselves ahead of the team. I'm bought in right now. It's been too long since we've had a winning season.”

Pitt started training camp last week with two players suspended for the season, another — prized freshman quarterback Tra'Von Chapman — on indefinite suspension and junior linebacker Todd Thomas expressing his intention to quit and missing all but one practice last week.

Those circumstances occurred after two players were dismissed while being charged with drug offenses. Running back Rushel Shell said he wanted to transfer, changed his mind and wasn't allowed to return.

Street said he is pleased with the atmosphere of intolerance built by Chryst amid the most demanding camp schedule in many years.

“Since I've been here, this has definitely been the toughest camp, just with the work, the hours, in meetings. I'm thankful for it,” Street said. “It's my senior season. It's my last go-round. They are definitely getting the best out of everyone.”

Street, who has been on campus since 2009 and hasn't missed a game in three years (30 starts), said Chryst has set a welcome tone.

“I have noticed a difference since my redshirt freshman year,” said Street, a second-team All-Big East selection last year when he set career highs in receptions (73), yards (975) and touchdowns (five). “Guys are here working. There is no negativity. Guys are doing the right thing.”

Street said he remains friends with many of the players who have left.

“I built a relationship with those guys,” he said. “I love those guys, but at the end of the day, you have to do the right thing, you have to trust in the coaching staff. If they're not bought in, they have to do what's best for them.”

If the punishments send a message, so be it, he said.

“That's Coach,” he said. “The guys who are here right now do trust in him. No one is above the team. No one can feel entitled. We have to come here and work every day.

“If this stuff pays off, and most likely it will, then, you know what, I'm all on board with it.”

Pitt opens the season Sept. 2 at Heinz Field against defending ACC champion Florida State, No. 12 in the USA Today preseason rankings. The game marks only the fourth time since 1997 — former coach Walt Harris' first season — that Pitt started with a BCS opponent.

Street said Florida State quickly caught the team's attention — more than last year, when Pitt lost its opener to Youngstown State of the FCS.

“I think we were taking them a little too lightly,” he said. “I don't think we were prepared enough. Not saying that's on the coaches, but that was on the players, too. Going into the game, I felt like there wasn't enough excitement.”

This season is about making amends, he said.“Coming into the ACC, we're faced with a tremendous challenge, but a great opportunity,” Street said. “It's all about first impressions.”

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

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