Pitt football notebook: George Aston will carry less weight
Pitt fullback George Aston wants to make one point clear as he continues getting ready for his senior season.
“I wasn’t fat,” he said.
It’s true Aston lost about 25 pounds since the end of spring ball — from a little more than 260 to 240 — but he did it for football reasons.
“Try to get in better shape for the season, just to be more comfortable so I can run all day,” he said.
It’s not unusual in Aston’s case to gain a few pounds, considering he missed all of last season with a foot injury.
Aston’s return to the team after missing most of 2017 with a foot injury is one of the reasons for optimism this season. Two seasons ago, when he also weighed about 240, he rushed for only 75 yards and caught just 22 passes for a 7.7-yard average. But he scored 10 touchdowns (five rushing, five receiving).
If he can recapture that kind of production, Pitt sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett’s transition into a full-time starter will be smoother.
Aston is one of the strongest members of the team, but graduate transfer tackle Stefano Millin is challenging him.
“Stef’s got me by about 15 pounds on bench press,” Aston said. “He’s up there close to 500.”
Millin also can do a few more than the 30 reps has recorded in the 225-pound bench press that is a big part of the NFL Combine.
“Hopefully, I’ll get a couple more, but I’ll take 30.” Aston said.
Youngsters get their shot
Pitt’s offensive line looks set with tackles Millin and Alex Bookser, guards Connor Dintino and Mike Herndon and center Jimmy Morrissey.
But line coach Dave Borbely knows there’s too much time before the start of the season to ignore the backups, who also sweat every day in the heat and humidity of August.
“I want to see what they do in live situations,” he said. “They’ve made big strides.”
The younger group is dominated by redshirt freshmen Jerry Drake Jr., Owen Drexel, Gabe Houy, Carter Warren, Kenny Rainey III and Carson Van Lynn. Older players such as sophomores Bryce Hargrove and Brandon Ford and junior-college transfer Chase Brown, a junior, also hope to compete for playing time.
This year’s theme
Pitt’s slogan for the season — painted on the cement sidewalk outside the locker room — is “Lock The Gates.”
No one explained its meaning better than Herndon.
“We can’t let anybody in, and we’re not going to let anybody out,” he said. “It’s going to be a fight all the way through.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.