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Pitt's Lewis ignores Heisman hype

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By Ralph Paulk
Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009

Pitt freshman tailback Dion Lewis said he hasn't gotten caught up in any sudden Heisman hype. He rushed for 180 yards in last week's 24-17 win over Rutgers to put himself into the Heisman conversation.

"I really don't read the papers, and I try to keep my focus," said Lewis, third in the nation in rushing with 131.1 yards per game. "People mention in the locker room, kind of kidding around, but I try to act like I don't hear it. It's nice, but I can't get caught up."

Said coach Dave Wannstedt: "I want our guys to get as much recognition as they can, but we're just halfway through the season. We just need to be talking about South Florida."

Lewis certainly has the attention of the South Florida defense. USF defensive end George Selvie said he would rather see the Panthers throw instead of feeding the ball to Lewis.

"He's giving me a little too much credit," Lewis said. "If they feel like they have to fill the box to stop the run, then we have great playmakers who can make plays."

• South Florida coach Jim Leavitt hasn't spent a lot of time researching the Pitt defensive linemen. He's familiar with at least three: Jabaal Sheard, Gus Mustakas and Greg Romeus — all Florida natives he targeted on the recruiting trail. "I know those Pitt defensive linemen very well," Leavitt said. "They're very active and very strong."

• In trying to describe Mustakas, Leavitt paused, then said: "He is very strong. There is no finesse there."

• Pitt understands that South Florida will arrive at Heinz Field with a huge chip on its shoulder after letting one slip away against No. 6 Cincinnati. "They might be a little mad coming in," Sheard said. "I guess they're little upset. We know what it feels like after our loss (to North Carolina State)."

• Cornerback Jovani Chappel awakened last Friday with severely swollen glands on his lower extremities, according to defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. "We weren't sure if he was going to play (at Rutgers). It was a restless night in New Jersey for all of us." Bennett added that free safety Elijah Fields suffered a more serious injury at Louisville. While he played some last week, he isn't expected to return to the starting lineup on Saturday.

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