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Pitt gets commitment from Pennsbury safety

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By John Grupp
Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009
 

• Eric Williams, a three-star safety from Pennsbury, has given a verbal commitment to Pitt. Williams (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), who had narrowed his choices to Pitt and Temple, is the Panthers' 18th commitment from the Class of 2010. He runs a 4.48 40-yard dash and has a 34-inch vertical leap. His recruitment heated up after a strong showing at a 7-on-7 tournament at the University of South Florida this past spring.

• With 3,000-yard rusher James Starks (shoulder) out for the season, Buffalo has turned to redshirt junior Brandon Thermilus. The 5-11, 224-pound Thermilus, who rushed for 79 yards and one touchdown last week against UTEP, has a longtime link to Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt. Thermilus' father is Alonzo Highsmith, the former Miami (Fla.) star running back and first-round NFL draft pick who played for Wannstedt in college and with the Dallas Cowboys.

• Freshman tailback Dion Lewis, who rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns against Youngstown State, was named to the Big East Honor Roll. Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike earned Offensive Player of the Week honors. Pitt's player of the game honors went to Lewis (offense), Adam Gunn (defense) and Dan Hutchins (special teams). Freshman fullback Henry Hynoski earned the "block of the game."

• Pitt certainly isn't taking any MAC team lightly, even as the Big East preseason favorites. The Panthers' memory is too good for that. The Panthers led Buffalo by one point, 17-16, last year with about 12 minutes to play. They also lost their last two road games against MAC schools, at Toledo in 2003 and at Ohio in 2005, prompting goal-post teardown celebrations. "They (Buffalo) are not a team to be overlooked," tight end Nate Byham said. "We can't do that. But at the same time, as long as we keep our focus and keep our discipline, it should not be a problem."

• Tailback Shariff Harris, suspended for two weeks for violating team rules, will dress for the Buffalo game. Senior defensive back Danny Cafaro (knee), a special teams player, is out.

• At his weekly press conference, Wannstedt said he hopes to play backup quarterback Tino Sunseri against Buffalo, but the game scenario will determine if the redshirt freshman sees action. "We'd love to get Tino in the game," Wannstedt said. "When and how, we'll see what happens."

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