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Pitt's Hutchins wins kicking jobs

By John Grupp
Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009
 

• Pitt redshirt junior Dan Hutchins opened training camp as a walk-on punter from Williamsport and ended the month as a scholarship player with two starting jobs. Hutchins, expected to be the starting punter, beat out Kevin Harper, a scholarship player from Mentor, Ohio, for the place-kicking duties. So Hutchins will handle both. Coach Dave Wannstedt rewarded Hutchins over the weekend by putting him on scholarship. Redshirt sophomore holder Andrew Janocko, another former walk-on, also earned a scholarship.

"It's a real positive thing for those kids and for our program," Wannstedt said. "A lot of schools talk about rewarding these young players who walk on and it's easier said than done."

• In the return game, Aaron Smith will handle punt returns, and Cameron Saddler and Antwuan Reed will be kickoff returners. Luke Briggs is the kickoff specialist and John Fieger, a redshirt sophomore, is the long-snapper.

• Perhaps the tightest job in training camp was at left guard, where senior Joe Thomas beat out redshirt sophomore Chris Jacobson. The biggest factor was experience. Thomas has started 27 games, second-most on the team.

"You want to play your best players that give you the best chance to win," Wannstedt said. "In early games like this you are going to see new things and I think Joe's game experience gives us the best chance to be successful right now."

• Pitt's nine national championship trophies and the Steelers' six Super Bowl Lombardi Trophies will be on display prior to the Panthers' opener against Youngstown State on Saturday in Heinz Field's Coca-Cola Great Hall.

Former Pitt coach Johnny Majors will also be signing autographs from 11:15 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

 

 
 


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