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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 Pat Mitsch
Friday, March 19, 2010

Pat Bostick and Tino Sunseri said they had a good grasp of the Pitt offense as spring practice began Thursday.

Even coach Dave Wannstedt said the two quarterbacks had a good offseason in the film room.

All that appears left to do is for one to claim the starting job. Just don't expect what happens this spring to be a for-sure preview of next fall.

Wannstedt hasn't named a starter between Bostick, the redshirt junior, and Sunseri, the redshirt sophomore. But Sunseri took the bulk of the snaps with the first-team offense yesterday on the South Side, while Bostick primarily worked with the second group.

During the course of this spring's 15 practice sessions, which culminate with the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage April 17 at Heinz Field, Wannstedt said it likely will be tough to read much into any player's performance until they start playing at full speed.

"I thought when we came out of last spring, Billy Stull had a slight edge at quarterback. No one anticipated the year he had," Wannstedt said. "We're trying to improve on an individual basis as much as we can, but until we start playing the games and it becomes real, that's when the guys really separate themselves."

Stull, who won the starting job last summer over Sunseri, finished as the nation's 10th best quarterback in passer rating (150.61), throwing for 2,633 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

With Stull gone, the competition is on again between Sunseri, last season's top backup, and Bostick, who redshirted last year but started nine games over the 2007 and '08 seasons.

"Competition's healthy everywhere you go," Sunseri said. "This, in particular, at our position, Pat knows it better than anybody. We're also helping each other, so it's more like a friendly competition."

Sunseri said the position has gotten easier for him and that spending last season interacting and preparing with Stull was a major part of that.

Bostick, meanwhile, said the redshirt year allowed him to experience some things he should have when he was a freshman, when he was eventually thrust into the starting job after Stull broke his thumb.

"I got to sit back, prepare myself and get myself into the best physical condition as I can and see how Bill succeeded," Bostick said. "It was huge being a part of that for me, and just getting back into it is awesome."

Bostick and Sunseri each threw interceptions in passing drills yesterday, and Bostick called the day's performance "a little rusty," which Wannstedt echoed.

"You could tell that they had a good offseason from a film-study standpoint," Wannstedt said. "As far as making the throws and the timing with the receivers, it's going to take a little bit of time there."

Notes: Wannstedt noted defensive end Brandon Lindsey, who intercepted Bostick near the line of scrimmage, running back Ray Graham and receiver Cam Saddler as players who "jumped out at you." ... Receivers Mike Shanahan (mononucleosis) and Devin Street (sickness) sat out, but Wannstedt hopes both will return for Saturday's 10 a.m. practice.

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