Twenty Questions: Redshirt Freshmen Impact

One of the most exciting things to see each season is how a number of redshirt freshmen have progressed. The last time they saw the field was in high school. Today, we look at a few players who could at least impact the depth chart this year.

Mark Myers
Why not start at quarterback, the most important position in this offense, and the one position that is always under watch no matter who is there. Myers is in a unique position because he gets to test Tino Sunseri in training camp—even though Sunseri has a firm hold on the starting job. At the same time, with Anthony Gonzalez suspended indefinitely ,Myers is arguably the most important player on the Pitt roster. If Sunseri were to go down with an injury, or dare we say struggle out of the gate, Myers needs to be ready to go from day one of training camp. Pitt is not as fortunate, depth-wise, at quarterback as it is at other positions, not to mention the fact they'll need big production from this position in 2011.

Salath Williams
Of all the redshirt freshmen, Williams is the least we know about. He was one of the top backups at receiver this spring, and could probably split some time between the nine-back and the five-back before he gets settled in on a role. Four different players in last year's Tulsa offense finished with at least 30 catches or more. If the same thing were to happen with the respective players on the Pitt roster—Williams could be on track for something in the 20-to-30 reception range for this year. If so, that's a pretty good achievement for a redshirt freshmen wideout given the depth at this position.

MATT ROTHERHAM
Rotherham began with the first team before a hamstring injury limited him this spring. It's unlikely that he'll push to get back with that first group, the way he started spring off, but he should certainly be in good contention for a spot on the two-deep. Pitt's starting offensive line will be good, but there's a lot of question about the backups on the line. If Rotherham can come through, it will go a long way to determining how the future of this line is going to shape up.

Shane Johnson
Johnson reportedly put up a vertical leap of 41 inches in conditioning tests this week. There's ample room for the reserve linemen to start laying claim to a starting spot for 2011. We saw Johnson working in with the first group late in the spring, thanks to a few key injuries. He showed us then that he's not far from playing into the two-deep.

Todd Thomas
Todd Thomas had to take a redshirt last season after a torn ACL ended his redshirt freshman season. Therefore, this new staff has no game film on him or anything. Yet, in spring, the coaches talked about him a lot. That must mean they've seen his athletic potential, or are impressed with his natural abilities without ever seeing him in a game-like situation. Though he was moved to defense at the early part of last year, if Thomas' raw instincts and abilities are all that, he has a chance to make a splash by starting at the SPUR this year—a position of need.

Brandon Ifill
Ifill is one of the Panthers who made the biggest impression in the new staff's first spring practice. Ifill started off at corner, before eventually moving over to play safety. He should end up playing a little of both this season, and is a prime candidate to be Pitt's extra defensive back in nickel and dime packages.


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