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Pitt senior Weatherspoon's work ethic second to none

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 7:03 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt receiver Kevin Weatherspoon runs after a catch during practice Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 on Pittsburgh's South Side.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt receiver Kevin Weatherspoon runs after a catch during practice Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Football is more than a game to Pitt senior wide receiver Kevin Weatherspoon. He's from Clairton, where the game is nourishment to many young people. It's how they measure themselves against their peers and the outside world.

“Football is something we conquer,” he said.

Consider Weatherspoon a victor. One of the spoils of his victory is a key role in the passing game for Pitt's opener Saturday against Delaware at Heinz Field.

He will be the first wide receiver off the bench and share slot duties with junior Ronald Jones. They will line up on passing downs next to starters Tyler Boyd and Manasseh Garner.

Hard work and reliability have earned Weatherspoon respect from his coaches and teammates.

“ 'Spoon' has been there,” offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “He has made all those plays. I consider him with that (starting) group with Tyler and Manasseh.”

After Boyd and Garner, Weatherspoon is the leading returning wide receiver with 14 receptions for 155 yards.

Nothing fancy. But his 15-yard catch on third down at Duke allowed Pitt to run out the clock for a three-point victory last season.

He also can provide a sure pair of hands as a punt returner.

Weatherspoon, whose father, brother, cousin and two uncles played college football, wasn't recruited by the current coaching staff. He was a member of Dave Wannstedt's last class in 2010.

He isn't tall like the younger wide receivers brought in by coach Paul Chryst. At 5-foot-10, he's at least 4 inches shorter than all of them.

But Rudolph knows he can count on Weatherspoon to be where he's supposed to be.

“The one thing about 'Spoon is he is highly respected,” Rudolph said. “Guys know how he has worked to get to where he is, and they respect him immensely for that.”

Training camp began nearly four weeks ago with Weatherspoon the oldest among a young group of backup wide receivers.

If others figured he was in competition, Weatherspoon didn't see it that way.

“I don't worry about competing with anybody,” he said. “Every day, I look at it like I have to get myself better.”

So while Chris Wuestner, Zach Challingsworth, Dontez Ford, Jester Weah and Adonis Jennings worked to master the college game, Weatherspoon and the 5-8 Jones found a home in the slot.

The idea is to make opposing defenses pay for double-teaming Boyd.

“We'll be ready,” Weatherspoon said.

Weatherspoon, Boyd and defensive backs Terrish Webb, Titus Howard and Trenton Coles grew up in Clairton, playing games with and against each other.

“Born and raised,” Weatherspoon said smiling.

But he arrived at Pitt before them, and he said it was difficult adjusting to college life without his buddies from home.

“When they all came, it makes you feel more comfortable, and you want to go out there and play that extra level up,” he said. “Because you are with your boys.”

Even now, with Howard suspended for the season and Coles deciding to leave the team, Weatherspoon said the bond still exists.

“It might not be as tight, but I feel like it's always going to be there,” he said.

“Even with the off-the-field issues. I felt no matter what, we keep in touch. That was what we were always born and raised to do.”

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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