Coveted Pitt freshman lineman Johnson unlikely to redshirt
Pitt offensive line coach Jim Hueber makes no apologies for how he coaches or the stress placed on his players.
“The way we play football isn't (easy),” he said. “We want guys who like football and aren't afraid to bang it around.”
Dorian Johnson — not yet 19 years old — won't argue.
The freshman from Belle Vernon, one of the most coveted high school linemen in the nation last season, said he practiced for two weeks this month before he started feeling comfortable with the playbook, footwork and techniques demanded by Hueber.
“It's tough,” Johnson said. “Learning the plays is one thing, but actually getting the footwork down, that's the main part.”
Then, he said he needed to adjust to the quickness of defensive end Ejuan Price and the strength of defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
“He's a lot stronger than I thought he was,” Johnson said of Donald.
Johnson isn't starting at right tackle — T.J. Clemmings has nailed down the job with hard work and the type of physicality Pitt's staff likes — but he said Hueber told him this week that he probably won't redshirt.
“Coach Hueber told me, for right now, the plan is not to redshirt,” Johnson said. “Unless it gets halfway through the season and I'm not getting enough reps. He doesn't want me to waste a year.”
Johnson said the news was “exciting.”
“I wasn't sure where I stood until (Wednesday),” he said.
Hueber said Johnson is making good progress.
“He is on the fast track to be alive in there,” he said.
Hueber wants to build depth as much as a cohesive group of starters. To that end, he rotated four tackles and two centers on the first team every three snaps this week through the final day of training camp Thursday.
That meant backup tackles Johnson and Juantez Hollins had the same opportunities as starters Adam Bisnowaty and Clemmings. He did likewise at center, where Gabe Roberts and Artie Rowell are competing.
“I want to make sure when we finally make a decision that everybody is comfortable with whoever we put in there,” Hueber said.
That will give Hueber options if the line is hit by injuries or spotty play during the season. It also gets young players accustomed to the rigors of college football. There are only three seniors on the line, and guard Cory King is the lone starter among them.
Hueber and coach Paul Chryst try to push players to the limits of their potential. The team has been in full pads every day since Aug. 10.
“We tried to put a lot of stress on them mentally,” he said. “We put a lot of stress on them physically.
“I don't know if we are old-fashioned or what it is. But the formula for success is there if we teach it right and the kids respond the right way.”
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.