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Pitt football notebook: Chryst has no qualms about using freshmen

| Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst has developed a reputation for treating his young players like grown men in terms of accountability off the field. The season will start Monday against Florida State with Chryst carrying that approach into games.

Four freshmen or redshirt freshmen are listed No. 1 on the depth chart released Monday: wide receiver Tyler Boyd, left tackle Adam Bisnowaty, outside linebacker Bam Bradley and kicker Chris Blewitt. Boyd and Blewitt are first-year players.

Blewitt, who has a minor foot injury, had no competition from scholarship players in training camp. Boyd received the nod over junior Kevin Weatherspoon, a former Clairton teammate. Senior Ed Tinker is the backup to Devin Street.

Chryst said Boyd has been impressive since the early days of camp.

“I have learned not to ever be surprised by Tyler,” he said. “I am anxious to see him and a lot of the guys who are playing for the first time. I think he'll rise up. He sees himself on a big stage, and he is certainly going to get that.”

There are 17 freshmen or redshirt freshmen on the two-man depth chart.

Injury update

Chryst said it's too early to tell if running back Isaac Bennett (knee) will play against Florida State.

“He did some stuff (Sunday) in practice, which was good, more than he's done before,” Chryst said. “He missed quite a bit of time.”

Freshman James Conner (shoulder) also got practice, but Chryst still lists him as day-to-day.

Rowell starts at center

Chryst said sophomore center Artie Rowell will start the opener after winning a training-camp competition with redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts.

“Artie earned the right to start,” Chryst said. “Yet, Gabe did a lot of good things and is continuing to improve. Right now, we felt like Artie gives us the best chance. Both of them need to continue to get better.”

Lots of tight ends

Chryst lists two starting tight ends, indicating he will go without a fullback much of the time.

J.P. Holtz and Manasseh Garner are the starters, backed up by freshmen Scott Orndoff and Jaymar Parrish.

“I'm excited to see what we can do as a group,” Holtz said.

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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