Passing The Torch

Ray Graham, Mike Shanahan and Ryan Turnley are just a few of the players appearing in their final collegiate game. Hear what they hope to leave behind after Saturday, as well as which players we should be keeping an eye on for the future.

Saturday marks the last game for this group of Pitt seniors. There's no worry about conference positioning, trying to rebound from a loss or just looking to stay healthy through each game.

With that said, some of these seniors are just excited about some of the players coming up at their respective positions.

Rushel Shell is one of those players. After rushing for 561 yards this season, second on the team behind Graham, Shell says he learned a lot from the elder statesman. He adds very little of it has to do with football.

"He's like a big brother to me," Shell said. "A lot of it doesn't have to do with football. Him not being around next year will feel a little different."

Graham is obviously sad to see his collegiate career, but is quick to point out his enthusiasm for the future of the running back position. He talked about some of the things he hopes he's instilled in the younger players. Clearly, Shell has followed Graham's example.

"Just always get better," Graham said as his number-one lesson to pass on. "You never get complacent, you can never be too comfortable because there's always somebody who is trying to take your spot. There's always somebody out there trying to be better than you.

"You gotta perfect your craft. Just get better every day, be coachable and understand the game. It can be a high peak at one moment, and a low peak at one moment. You just have to always be complacent and humble, just continue to work and get better."

Pitt may have to look to more than just replacing Mike Shanahan if Devin Street declares early for the NFL Draft. Between these two, Cameron Saddler and Graham, the four players caught 176 of Pitt's 242 completed passes this year. Even if Street returns, there is plenty of room for some younger player to step up and play a bigger role in the offense. In fact, it could be one of Pitt's biggest question marks heading into 2013.

Not worried about the youth of the position, Shanahan says he's looking forward to what the future receivers do. He has spoken multiple times of his confidence in this coaching staff. He talked about what he hopes to leave behind after he plays his final game Saturday.

"I just try to make sure we all come ready to work every day; practice hard and love the game," Shanahan said. "I think with all the great coaches that we have, that's easy to do. The young guys can see me doing that. Their future is so bright with Coach Engram leading them. I think the future is very bright for the receiving corps."

Finally, a second ringing endorsement for Adam Bisnowaty. During practices in Pittsburgh, left guard Chris Jacobson commented on how impressed he was with Bisnowaty's development.

"I think Adam Bisnowaty is going to be a stud," Jacobson said. "I feel like he'll be a four-year starter here. He's good and he's improved all year. I know Coach Hueber has done a great job with him. He really impressed me a lot. He'll do well, I believe. He's doing well. He gets his hands on people. He sits well when he's getting bull (rushed), he can block. He's doing well."

Compare that to what senior Ryan Turnley had to add on Wednesday. Getting respect from the two most experienced players on the line isn't an easy thing for a true freshman. Based on what these two now have to say, it sounds like Bisnowaty will be a player to watch for right away in the spring.

"What I see in the future for this offensive line, it's very bright," Turnley said. "I see guys like Adam Bisnowaty and Artie Rowell and Gabe Roberts. Gabe got hurt this year, but before he got hurt, he was playing well as a true freshman. The guys that are coming back—Matt Rotheram, Cory King (Ryan) Schlieper, I think it's going to be a strong part of the team. It's going to be a strength of the team, and there's going to be a lot of leaders on the offensive line.

Is Bisnowaty a future left tackle?

"I think that would be accurate to say," Turnley said. "He's smooth in everything that he has to do, but he's physical and nasty. He's someone you look at, at 18 years old, and you say ‘he's going to be a great player.' I'm excited to see what he's going to do."


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