Pitt's Gonzalez finally finds a home at linebacker
Pitt outside linebacker Anthony Gonzalez couldn't be blamed for feeling a little sad about leaving his first love.
“Everybody loves playing quarterback,” he said.
It's the glamour position, attracting attention from coaches, teammates, opponents and fans.
“You have the ball in your hands every play,” he said.
Gonzalez played the position well at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, leading his team to a PIAA Class AAAA championship and accumulating yardage (5,311) and touchdowns (61) at staggering levels.
Former Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt recruited Gonzalez as a quarterback, and his successor Todd Graham used him as — of all things — a wildcat quarterback. He scored a touchdown from that perch in 2011 against Syracuse.
But coach Paul Chryst, as conventional as any coach in Pitt history, has no use for the wildcat formation. But he has plenty of use for Gonzalez, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior who has found a home as a potential playmaker at outside linebacker.
“He's a smart football player, and he obviously has some talent,” Chryst said.
Gonzalez has embraced the position, although he had some early doubts.
“After my first year, I was skeptical,” he said. “(At quarterback), you get to make plays. There is no better feeling than that. That's why I wanted to come in and play quarterback.
“It just hasn't worked out for me, and it's time to move on.”
Gonzalez has played four positions at Pitt, including safety and H-back, but he made the permanent move to strong-side linebacker late last season, starting for the first time in the BBVA Compass Bowl. He starts on the weak side, but Chryst said he is comfortable putting Gonzalez at either position.
Gonzalez said his experience at quarterback helps him on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
“You know where the quarterback wants to go,” he said. “Knowing when you have help and when you don't.”
If Chryst hadn't been developing depth at several positions — something Pitt lacked in recent seasons — he wouldn't have had the luxury of moving Gonzalez to a position where he is a better fit.
• Gonzalez wasn't needed at quarterback because Pitt recruited Tom Savage and Chad Voytik, with two more coming in the Class of 2014.
• Good numbers at cornerback allowed Chryst to move Cullen Christian to backup safety behind starters Jason Hendricks and Ray Vinopal.
Chryst can thank Clairton's program for much of that depth in the secondary.
Trenton Coles and Titus Howard (cornerback) and Terrish Webb (safety) are practicing well, the coach said.
“They have a great work ethic,” Chryst said. “The moments aren't getting too big for them.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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 offense eyes healthy balance
- Notre Dame leads powerhouses in ACC; Pitt women picked 14th
- Pitt notebook: Chryst didn’t lobby to keep Watt at tight end
- Discipline Pitt’s only option against Georgia Tech
- All signs positive for Pitt junior forward Johnson
- Starkey: No harm putting Pitt’s Conner on defense
- Sophomore guard Jones shows off range in Pitt’s Blue-Gold scrimmage
- Pitt notebook: Zone-read plays suit Voytik’s strengths
- Pitt’s Dixon expecting more from point guard Robinson
- Now with Va. Tech, fate tests former Wash High running back McKenzie