Nix, Gibbs up to anchor Pitt's offensive line
One of them was among the most coveted offensive linemen in the nation. The other was a lightly recruited, converted tight end from eastern Pennsylvania.
Lucas Nix and Jordan Gibbs came from different places, but they are working to give Pitt the best set of bookend tackles in the Big East.
"Me and Luke want to be the top tackles," said Gibbs, a two-star recruit out of Lancaster Penn Manor. "That is my goal. I'm trying to be all-Big East. It really motivates me. It drives me harder to do what I need to do."
There is no official Big East preseason football team, but the ESPN all-conference team included none of Pitt's three returning offensive line starters — right guard/tackle Nix, left tackle Gibbs or left guard Chris Jacobson (6-3, 295).
In its preseason unit rankings, Athlon Sports tabbed Pitt as the fourth-best offensive line in the Big East behind Connecticut, West Virginia and Syracuse.
There remains some uncertainty. Coach Todd Graham this week switched Nix, a former Parade All-American, to guard to boost intensity for the final starting offensive line spot. Ryan Turnley already has secured the starting center job.
"It provokes more competition among the other guys," Nix said.
Nix will be comfortable at either position; he started 12 games at right guard last year after starting all 13 games at right tackle as a sophomore.
"He's very talented, very gifted, very physical," Graham said. "He can be as good as he wants to be. I told him and Gibbs that I will be very disappointed if they weren't the two best tackles in the league, and, if he moves down to guard, I expect (Nix) to be the best guard in the league."
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Nix is ranked among the top guard prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft. Most grade him as a second- or third-round pick.
"Physically, I've gotten stronger. I've gotten bigger," Nix said. "I feel good about where I'm at right now."
Nix, one of six Big East players (along with Jacobson) on the Outland Trophy Watch List as the nation's top lineman, has excelled in grasping Graham's new high-speed attack. Conditioning is a premium, as the 300-pounders must sprint down the field and get reset to meet Graham's goal of snapping the ball within 15 seconds of the end of a play.
"I can't wait until we play a team, and I see that D-line just dead in the second quarter," Nix said. "At some point they are going to wear down. That's where all the running we did is going to take over, and you will see us start to just gradually get more and more push on the line."
Gibbs, a 6-foot-7, 315-pounder, started the final 10 games last year at right tackle but moved this year to left tackle, where the left-hander replaces former all-Big East selection Jason Pinkston, a fifth-round draft pick by the Browns. Gibbs, a former standout high school basketball player, said he is in better shape after an offseason with new strength and conditioning coach Shawn Griswold.
"I feel like I can run longer than I did before," Gibbs said. "I can punch people harder when I'm on the line and come off the ball faster."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates can’t make up for miscues from Cumpton in loss to Cards
- The Oaks Theater in Oakmont to be changed into performance arts venue
- Donora man acquitted of trying to kill rival
- Feds eye local ties in Katrina investigation
- Jeannette council rejects referendum on switch to volunteer fire department
- Veto, special session studied by Corbett to push Pa. pension reform
- Cheating scandal imperils police staffing in Duquesne
- BNY Mellon adds sales executie to try to boost business with wealthy retail investors
- W.Va. man on trial in Fayette County rock attack
- Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School nears completion
- Penguins are saying captain Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery