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Buffalo receiver Roosevelt no secret to Pitt

| Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009

Buffalo senior Naaman Roosevelt is arguably the best wide receiver in Division I football who no one's heard about.

Well, almost no one.

"The people in the NFL, they know about him," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He's not a secret by any means."

A converted high school quarterback from Buffalo, Roosevelt ranked in the top 10 in the nation last year in receptions and receiving yards. He caught 104 passes for 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns, all school records.

Last year Roosevelt had more catches than Michael Crabtree, more yards than Kenny Britt and more touchdowns than Hakeem Nicks.

Virtually every scouting site considers Roosevelt one of the top 15 college receivers in the nation and as high as a third-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Pitt hopes Roosevelt does nothing to enhance his pro status when the Panthers (1-0) visit defending Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo (1-0) at noon Saturday at what's being billed as the biggest game ever played at 29,000-seat UB Stadium.

"He's a real good talent," Pitt senior defensive back Aaron Berry said. "He can definitely be a home-run hitter for them. We've got to stay honest and respect him."

Wannstedt said Roosevelt will be "as talented a receiver as we will face all year long," noteworthy considering the Panthers play projected second-round picks Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati and Golden Tate of Notre Dame, along with highly regarded Mike Williams of Syracuse and Tate's teammate, Michael Floyd.

"You hear everyone talking about (the game)," Roosevelt said. "Everyone wants tickets because it's one of the BCS teams. ... It's a big game, definitely, with them being a BCS team, we can show what we can do and the abilities that we have."

Roosevelt flashed his ability last week in Buffalo's 23-17 victory at UTEP, turning a third-down screen pass into a 42-yard touchdown reception from first-year quarterback Zach Maynard. He finished with five catches for 91 yards.

"He's definitely the guy who makes our offense go and makes our team go," Buffalo coach Turner Gill said. "He wants to be the best football player in the country, and he's very passionate about that."

The Pitt secondary did a good job against Roosevelt in the Panthers' 27-16 victory over Buffalo last year at Heinz Field. He was held to six receptions for 65 yards, his second-lowest total of the season.

"We pressed him a lot and played a lot of man," Berry said. "It's big for us to get in his face and try to disrupt his timing."

Roosevelt caught 10 passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns in Buffalo's upset win over previously unbeaten and then-No. 12 Ball State in last year's MAC championship game.

He also caught a 35-yard "Hail Mary" touchdown to beat Temple and had an overtime-forcing touchdown against Bowling Green. He had eight catches for 90 yards against Connecticut, and nine grabs for 87 yards against Missouri.

"All of my NFL sources tell me that he is on the watch list as a top-half of the draft type of player," Wannstedt said. "He has the speed, the size and good hands to go with it."

Wannstedt's takes

On playing on the road three of the next four games:

"We were a pretty good road team last year (5-1). If we're going to be a good football team, we're going to have to deal with the variables of traveling and playing on the road. It's all a part of the schedule."

On last year's 27-16 victory over Buffalo:

"Reflecting back on last year, the Buffalo game was such an important game for us from a standpoint of regrouping and getting back on track."

On watching the tape of quarterback Bill Stull in the opener:

"He managed the game well. He got guys in and out of the huddle. There weren't any delays or miscues on snap count. The turnover he had was both a quarterback and receiver miscommunication. I was pleased with Bill's performance. He didn't make any major mistakes. It was a good start for him."

On the defensive scheme against Youngstown State:

"We were pretty vanilla last week. That was the plan going in. We didn't blitz once. We're prepared to blitz this week if we have to."

On the pass-blocking against Youngstown State:

"We had too many mental mistakes. (But) that's the one position probably that takes a little more time. I thought their effort was good. I thought their toughness was good."

Additional Information:

Carry a big stick

Buffalo senior wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt ranked in the top 10 nationally in most receiving categories last year.

Category -- Total -- NCAA rank

Receptions -- 104 -- 4th (tied)

Receiving yards -- 1,402 -- 4th

Receiving TDs -- 13 -- 8th

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