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Offensive line remains a concern for Pitt's football team

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Friday, Feb. 3, 2012
 

Pitt's recruiting class received good reviews from national analysts, but a gap remains on the offensive line, where three seniors are leaving and two freshmen are arriving.

"That's the one area they are going to have to hit hard in 2013," said Bryan Fischer, a college football analyst for CBSSports.com.

Pitt recruited only one offensive lineman last year — Central Dauphin's Artie Rowell, who was not part of the mix in 2011 — and this year added four-star tackle prospect Adam Bisnowaty of Fox Chapel and lightly recruited Gabe Roberts of New London, Wis.

"That's a difficult position to evaluate on such a short timetable," Fischer said.

Pitt had its eye on two highly rated Pennsylvania offensive linemen — J.J. Denman of Pennsbury and Chris Muller of Boyertown — but they went to Rutgers.

"It was a little bit different this year with what went on at Penn State," Fischer said. "I think that affected in-state recruiting."

The Panthers lose starting seniors Lucas Nix, Jordan Gibbs and Greg Gaskins up front. After next season, guard Chris Jacobson and center Ryan Turnley will be gone. That leaves Bisnowaty, Roberts and several seldom-used reserves for coach Paul Chryst to use as building blocks in 2013.

Discussing that need Wednesday, Chryst said, "You have to keep taking offensive linemen."

Meanwhile, Pitt's overall class looks good, especially in light of the transition to Chryst from Todd Graham. Ranked in Rivals.com's top 25 at their respective positions are quarterback Chad Voytik (No. 4 pro style), running back Rushel Shell (No. 6), Bisnowaty (No. 19) and outside linebacker Deaysean Rippy (No. 21), who may start at safety.

Pitt's overall class was ranked third in the Big East — behind Rutgers and Louisville — and 46th overall by Rivals.com. Five ACC schools — No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Miami (Fla.), No. 14 Clemson, No. 21 Virginia Tech and No. 27 Virginia — were ahead of Pitt, which is slated to eventually join that conference.

"This is just one day," Chryst said. "As important as it is, it is the fall that matters."

Notes: Chryst said running back Ray Graham remains on schedule while recovering from a knee injury but declined to pinpoint a timetable for his return. "Each guy is so different," he said. "He feels good and is encouraged by where he is in the rehab process. We'll be smart in that. He will be smart in that." ... Speaking on Pitt's website, Chryst said he and his staff won't watch "a ton" of video from last season. "We will make our own determination."

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