Pitt releases first depth chart, but expect it to change
The first point to be made about Pitt’s first training camp depth chart is that it will change.
Many times, and often for reasons only a coach could understand.
Someone was late for breakfast.
Someone else couldn’t answer a question during video study.
Someone complained about the heat.
But the one distinctive characteristic about Pitt’s first two-deep depth chart, released Wednesday at ACC Media Days in Charlotte, N.C., is the lack of `ors.’
Coach Pat Narduzzi uses the word `or’ between names of two players who are supposedly neck-and-neck in the quest for playing time.
He used it just twice – at first-string defensive tackle (sophomore Jaylen Twyman or junior Keyshon Camp) and backup quarterback (redshirt freshman Nick Patti or senior Jeff George Jr.)
Perhaps that means the remainder of the positions – first- and second-string – belong to players coaches think they can trust. For now.
Here are some initial observations:
• There is only one senior on the two offensive line units – Chase Brown, a junior-college transfer who played in only two games last season.
• The first line includes four players with limited experience, plus third-team All-ACC center Jimmy Morrissey, perhaps the most valuable player on offense after quarterback Kenny Pickett.
• The left and right tackles are sophomores Carter Warren and Gabe Houy (Upper St. Clair) and left and right guards are Bryce Hargrove, a junior who started the final three games last season, and Brown. But senior grad transfer Nolan Ulizio, a tackle who played at Michigan, will work his way into the mix, just not on the initial depth chart.
• At linebacker, versatile senior Saleem Brightwell, who made one start last season at outside linebacker, gets the nod as the first first-team middle linebacker over junior Elias Reynolds, who started seven games there last season. Reynolds was a healthy scratch (coaches’ decision) from the Sun Bowl.
• Former safety Phil Campbell Jr. and Chase Pine start out on the first team at star and money linebacker, but Brightwell will challenge Pine if Reynolds works his way onto the first team in the middle.
• No surprise to see Paris Ford (Steel Valley) at strong safety. Narduzzi said as much in the spring. Ford has played in only eight games without a start, but there is plenty of experience at the other seven secondary spots. The starters are senior free safety Damar Hamlin (Central Catholic) and cornerbacks Dane Jackson (Quaker Valley), a senior, and Jason Pinnock, a junior.
• The top three wide receivers are Taysir Mack, Maurice Ffrench and Tre Tipton (Apollo-Ridge). They will be backed up, respectively, by Aaron Mathews (Clairton), Dontavius Butler-Jenkins and Shocky Jacques-Louis.
• George Aston is gone, so there is no fullback position on the depth chart.
• Pitt has several running backs who were highly coveted recruits, but A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley Jr. are atop the depth chart in that order to start training camp. Mychale Salahuddin was rehabbing a leg injury in the spring, but expect him to be part of the mix, at least in camp. And we haven’t even mentioned V’Lique Carter, a change-of-pace back with breakaway speed.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .