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Pitt sorts through crowded QB picture

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, March 16, 2012

When Mark Myers walked off the practice field Thursday, sweat flattened his hair and he appeared a little tired from the first day of Pitt's spring football drills.

But there was no mistaking the athletic, 6-foot-4, 230-pound build that got former coach Dave Wannstedt's attention two years ago. In fact, Myers looks so much like a quarterback that you wonder how he could have been so ignored during his first two seasons at Pitt.

There is more to a quarterback than the wrapping on the package, and Myers said he is a changed player under his third coaching staff in three years.

"I definitely feel like I matured a lot," he said. "I'm spending a lot more time in the film room and (getting) a lot more field work."

Just in time.

Myers is one of five quarterbacks trying to get noticed behind incumbent starter and senior-to-be Tino Sunseri. And that's not counting incoming freshman Chad Voytik, who won't arrive until this summer.

Pitt won't enter the season with seven quarterbacks, but coach Paul Chryst has created an atmosphere of learning that Myers said is a welcome contrast to the Todd Graham regime.

"Last year, sometimes, it was chaos," he said. "We were just running around. This is more controlled. We get more out of it, more learning. I think it's better.

"I'm definitely relieved (at the change at the top). I think I have a real good chance to get on the field and help this team out."

With the return to the pro style offense -- implemented by Wannstedt, but abandoned by Graham -- everyone feels the same way.

"It was what I was recruited for," Sunseri said.

Sunseri, 23, appears to have quickly built a rapport with quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger, 32, who played six seasons in the NFL before he was hired at Pitt last month.

"Something you can't beat is experience, and he's had it at the highest level," he said.

The first of 15 days of spring drills was predictably ragged, with dropped passes, bad route-running and overthrown passes.

But Sunseri ended the 2 1/2-hour session with a long, sideline completion to former Gateway star Brendon Felder, who sat out last season after transferring from North Carolina.

"The important thing is not that we missed one here or there," Bollinger said. "But the important thing is it doesn't happen again, and we learn from it."

Chryst said he liked his team's energy.

"Maybe some of it was nervous energy. It is a starting point, but you are also glad you don't have a game.

"It's kind of like my golf game," he said, not specifically referencing the pass to Felder. "You had one good shot and you think you're a golfer. But there are enough things you have to keep moving on."

• Note: Wide receiver Darius Patton, who caught six passes for 25 yards in his freshman season last year, wasn't at practice and might transfer. "He is working through some things," Chryst said.

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