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Notebook: Pitt to audition tailbacks at scrimmage

| Saturday, Aug. 18, 2001

Pitt will hold its first scrimmage today at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex, and all eyes will be on the tailbacks.

Five freshmen - Malcolm Postell, Mike Jemison, James Johnson, Raymond Kirkley and Darren McCray - are looking to catch the attention of the coaches and move a step closer to a starting job.

'I just want to go out and play as hard as I can,' Postell said.

'It's a chance to show what you can do in a game-like situation,' Kirkley said.

'I'm just going to try to play to the best of my ability,' Jemison said.

Coach Walt Harris said he likely would rotate three of the tailbacks with the No. 1 unit, though he did not reveal who those three players would be. Kirkley, Postell and Jemison - who could be held out of the scrimmage due to a possible concussion that he suffered Friday - have been working with the top unit the past couple days.

'I hope so,' Harris said, when asked if he expects one or more of the tailbacks to move ahead of the pack. He then added, 'We think the running back position is where the natural football player will show up.'

POLITE UPDATE

Sophomore fullback Lousaka Polite discarded his crutches and protective boot in exchange for tape on his sprained left ankle yesterday. Polite worked out with strength coach Buddy Morris for the second consecutive day and was walking around at practice, albeit gingerly.

No timetable has been set on the return of Polite, who sustained a high ankle sprain at practice Wednesday.

PICCIOTTI OUT, AGAIN

A day after returning to the field, sophomore fullback Dustin Picciotti sat out of practices again yesterday. He missed four previous practices with concussion-like symptoms before returning Thursday. He did not participate in contact drills during his one day back.

Picciotti's situation has been cause for concern at Pitt because of his history with concussions, including two in less than two months last season that kept him out of the lineup until the fourth game. His status is day-to-day.

With Picciotti and Polite out of today's scrimmage, Joe Vaglia, Matt Mefford and Abdur Abdullah will handle the fullback duties.

OTHER INJURIES

Center Chad Reed (hamstring), defensive end Brian Guzek (hamstring), strong safety Gary Urschler (hamstring), wide receiver Robb Butler (pelvis) and offensive tackle Joe Manganello (knee) were among the players who sat out with injuries yesterday. Manganello's knee injury, which could keep him out for an extended period, and Butler's inflamed pelvis, which could require surgery, are the most serious.

PITT BLITZ

Junior wide receiver Antonio Bryant was interviewed for an upcoming feature story in ESPN The Magazine. ... Harris joined his team for a couple of 50-yard wind sprints at the end of the third and final practice. He raced Corey Humphries at one point and finished a step behind the sophomore free safety. 'I wasn't warmed up and he wasn't tired enough,' Harris said.

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