Pitt is deep at several positions heading into the 2011 season, but there is ample room at a few key positions for some of these true freshmen to jump into the mix and play this year. Today, we take a look at a few of those possibilities.
The coaches were excited about this player on signing day. They loved his playmaking ability on offense, and feel that those skills will translate well to the other side of the ball. Depth will also play a factor. With three senior corners battling for two spots, and another (Cullen Christian) sitting out this season due to the transfer rule, the Panthers need at least one of these true freshmen to step up and be in the two-deep.
Carrington will be in the same consideration as Frimpong for a starting job. It is promising that both of these cornerback recruits blossomed over their senior year. Carrington never played organized football until his senior year. One year in to his playing experience, Carrington may be expected to be ready as a fourth corner at the Division I level.
The Panthers already have some question marks heading into the season at the linebacker position—arguably the position with the most questions about it, heading into the season. The questions at linebacker stem from upperclassmen now getting a crack at the starting lineup (Tristan Roberts); if he can hold on to a starting job and how well would he do. Others like Greg Williams are coming back from injury, and have to work their way back into the lineup under a new scheme, and a new staff.
With all the question marks facing some of these upperclassmen, and the health of Dan Mason unknown at this point, there's a golden opportunity for one of these true freshmen to play his way on to the two-deep. Fellow incoming freshmen Ejuan Price and Nicholas Grigsby could also get a shot. It all depends on who has the best camp, and what linebacker position they'll start off with..
Arguably, the best athlete in this entire class. If he truly is that, this coaching staff will find a way for him to get on the field.
What's different for Ryles, out of all the 2011 signees, is that he is a safety first, but could be moved up to one of the linebacker spots. The Spur position will have an open starting job this year. Will it go to someone like a Todd Thomas or Eric Williams, or maybe even a Kevin Adams. If Ryles gets a crack at the Spur, that combined with the fact Ryles is a member of this coaching staff's first year—it certainly looks good for him, in regards to some early playing time.
Earning a backup spot at one of the safety positions would almost be tougher for him with veterans Andrew Taglianetti and Brandon Ifill having good springs and a good impression under the new staff already. Again, though, we'll get an early look at this staff's philosophy on playing veterans versus playing younger players if that is the case here.
Pitts could still go back and forth at which position he'll be at in the early goings of his Pitt career. For the time being, it's easiest for him to see the field as a corner based on need. If he were to make the two-deep at receiver, he'd have at least six other players to compete with for a spot. However, Pitts has been putting the emphasis on working on his offensive skillset this offseason. He played receiver in the Big 33 games, and has been working on his routes and other intangibles in the time since the Big 33.
This was the big recruit that Pitt wanted on signing day (i.e. special video feature following Todd Graham on signing day, with his enthusiastic reaction when Pitts' letter was received). If they are truly that excited for Pitts to be a Panther, it seems they will find a role for him as a true freshman.