Quarterback Competition Highlights Spring

Tom Savage and Chad Voytik will be under close watch this spring, and most likely all the way to Pitt's opening game against Florida State on September 2. In addition, there are a number of other position battles up for grabs.

Brooks Bollinger knows, as Pitt's quarterbacks coach, he's got to walk a fine line between developing his quarterbacks, yet also breeding the competition.

"You kind of talk out of both sides of your mouth," Bollinger said. "You always want them competing. Playing the position at this level, you're going to be competitive at everything you do. I'm pushing them to come out and compete. At the same time, the big picture, this is day one of spring ball. I want them to fight to be the best they can possibly be."

Whoever wins this job is replacing three-year starter Tino Sunseri. The last time someone else besides Sunseri started a game at Pitt was the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl, when Bill Stull led Pitt to a 19-17 win over North Carolina.

Both quarterbacks have been in the system for a year. Both have head coach Paul Chryst, offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and Bollinger to work under for a year. Experience-wise, it's completely different.

Voytik took a significant number of snaps as the backup quarterback in training camp last year, before settling on a redshirt. After having to sit out that first year, Voytik said the year helped him immensely--kind of going along that line of development that Bollinger refers to.

"It was great, it helped me a lot," Voytik said. "The time coming in to camp last year, not hardly knowing anything, to now where I have a base of knowledge going on. It's a lot more pressure off me, and I can go out there and just play."

Savage last played on the field in November of 2010, while playing at Rutgers. Since then, Savage transferred to Arizona and sat out a year. He then enrolled at Pitt, technically coming to Pittsburgh as a walk-on, yet still having to sit out the year again due to the transfer rule.

Words can't explain how ready he is, just for the simple fact of being able to see a field this year.

"It's definitely exciting, I've waited my time," Savage said. "Right now, it's competition. You can't expect anything. You just have to go out there and play."

This quarterback battle won't be sured up anytime soon. In the bigger picture, whoever wins it will have to replace a three-year starter, won't have the luxury of an experienced back in Ray Graham, and could be working with first-year starters at left tackle, center and right tackle.

The spring might not give us a definite answer on quarterback, but at the very least will provide a base of competition to get things rolling.

There are also other spots on the team where we'll see competition at. One definitely appears to be linebacker.

On Tuesday, Chryst said that Dan Mason and Nicholas Grigsby would be suspended indefinitely. This is a position that has already been hit hard by injuries in recent years. Not to mention, returning starter Shane Gordon is out indefinitely this spring with a neck injury.

That left Tuesday's first group of linebackers Mike Caprara, Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez. All three have taken an interesting turn to get to linebacker.

Caprara, who redshirted as a freshman last year, had only one offer coming out of high school, and didn't even get it until two weeks before signing day. He was a three-year starter at nearby Woodland Hills.

Thomas, despite entering his redshirt junior season, will be playing his first-ever spring.

"We have a lot of young guys, but I feel myself stepping up into a leadership role," Thomas said.

Gonzalez came to Pitt as a quarterback, before trying out receiver and H-back as a redshirt freshman. Last year, he moved to the defensive side of the ball. After beginning the season at safety, he played a significant amount of reps at linebacker in the final three games of the season, once injuries mounted.

One player moved to the defensive side of the ball was David Durham, from fullback. Durham transferred to Pitt last year, from Ohio State. In December, T.J. Clemmings was moved from defensive end to the offensive line--an experiment that looks to have paid off. Thomas gave us an idea of why Durham was moved to defense, and why he might be the guy to beat out for the starting spot opposite of Bryan Murphy.

"He's just energy, a big guy," Thomas said. "He talks a lot, he's vocal. He brings a lot to the table. I like him a lot."

Panther Digest Top Stories