Pitt seniors looking to end careers with bowl game bid
Pitt defensive starters K'Waun Williams and Shane Gordon came to Pittsburgh from distant locales, miles from home and surrounded by strangers.
Yet they have reached their senior seasons as two of the 20 surviving members of former coach Dave Wannstedt's final two recruiting classes (2009-10). They will leave next year with strong friendships forged through football and memories of hard-won victories and disappointing defeats.
They get a chance to salvage some good fortune in the season's final two games, starting Saturday at Syracuse.
A victory makes Pitt (5-5, 2-4 ACC) eligible for bowl selection; a loss puts the pressure on the Panthers to defeat Miami (7-3, 3-3) next Friday or face an idle postseason for the first time since 2007.
Williams, a cornerback from Paterson, N.J., has been on campus since 2010. He played in 10 games as a freshman, with one start, and never redshirted. He has made 35 starts for three head coaches and four defensive coordinators.
“What a roller coaster it was,” he said.
Gordon, a middle linebacker, arrived in 2009 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earning a regular position on the defense last year. When he lines up Saturday in the Carrier Dome, it will stir memories of his first start as a redshirt freshman — a 45-14 road victory against the Orange in 2010.
“I was nervous a little bit, but I felt ready,” Gordon said. “Coach Wannstedt was on me, ‘You're ready for this. You're ready for this. You're ready.'
“I played all right.”
That was a winning season, something Pitt has not experienced since then while changing coaches twice.
With so much to lose, Pitt coach Paul Chryst said his team is not desperate, He prefers the phrase “sense of urgency.”
Williams admitted he is a little more focused this week with the season on the line.
“I go a little bit harder,” he said. “Anything I can do to get my team hyped for the last couple times.”
Gordon, who will make his 19th start, has something more on his mind, aside from a bowl bid and winning season. He is seeking redemption for last year's 14-13 loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
“When it came down to the end, all (the defense) had to do was stop them and give the offense back the ball,” he said. “And we just couldn't stop them. We owe Syracuse one.”
NOTES: Chryst refused comment on most of his injured players, including offensive left tackle Adam Bisnowaty (back) and left guard Cory King (hamstring), but he said wide receiver Devin Street (ankle) is questionable. If Bisnowaty can't play, Chryst said he has chosen a replacement — either Dorian Johnson or Juantez Hollins — but he refused to name him. “We still have a couple things we're finding out (Thursday),” he said. “I'm not going to talk about it anymore because I don't know exactly.” ... Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named a finalist for the Nagurski (best defender) and Lombardi (best lineman) awards.
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.
- For Pitt men’s basketball team, trouble in paradise
- Pitt football notebook: Panthers’ depth at RB, offensive line shows against Syracuse
- Penn State wrestling gets best of Pitt again
- Pitt beats Syracuse, snaps 3-game losing streak
- On senior day, Pitt not giving up the fight
- Pitt found opponent it had hoped for in Hawaii
- Pitt notebook: Running back Conner showing no signs of slowing down
- Pressure mounts on Pitt coach Chryst as 3rd season will soon end
- Murrysville native Hickey carves out fine career on O-line with Syracuse
- Syracuse senior ready for homecoming trip to Heinz Field
- Assistant coach who followed Haywood to Pitt settles lawsuit with school