Conway Award Candidates

A lot of players in contention for the Ed Conway Award this year, are players who redshirted as freshmen last season. They're examples of the benefit of a redshirt year, and how it can put you in contention for a bigger role in a short time.

Every year the Ed Conway Award is handed out to the most improved player on the offensive side of the ball, and one to the defensive side as well.

Here is a look at a few candidates:

QB - Chad Voytik
Voytik and Tom Savage shared most of the reps at quarterback this spring. After benefitting from taking a redshirt year to learn the system, and simply get acclimated to being a college freshman, Voytik showed he has a good understanding. He will continue to compete for the starting job in training camp with Savage, as Chryst said he has no timetable for naming a starting quarterback.

RB - Desmond Brown
After Rushel Shell decided to transfer, Brown stepped up to take a lot of carries. Isaac Bennett has taken the majority of carries at running back. In addition to losing Shell, Malcolm Crockett had to battle some injuries this spring. Brown stepped up in the absence of Shell and when Crockett was out, and looks like he could compete for reps in the fall.

WR - Kevin Weatherspoon
With the graduations of Mike Shanahan and Cameron Saddler, the offense does get the benefit of returning Devin Street. There will be a battle for reps between Ronald Jones, Ed Tinker and Weatherspoon. He might be the least experienced of those three, but Weatherspoon made the biggest jump in terms of reps this spring. He also has a strong work ethic, which might lead him to the field this spring.

OT - Adam Bisnowaty
Bisnowaty, like Voytik and some other freshmen, took advantage of the redshirt in 2012. He's the guy to beat out at left tackle in 2013. While he hasn't officially been named a starter, Bisnowaty looks like he has a lock on the position. He may have to battle youth and inexperience, but he's shown that he has a good understanding of his responsibilities.

C - Gabe Roberts
Roberts adjusted to life as a freshman, but also had to redshirt. Four weeks into the regular season, he had to overcome shoulder surgery. He overcame all that, then was asked to give center a try. Despite having no previous experience at center, outside of playing it in youth football, Roberts took a major step forward learning that position this spring. There isn't another offensive lineman that had to overcome all those obstacles--being a freshman, redshirted, being injured, learning a new position. He looks like he has a good hold on all those areas.

DE - David Durham
Durham transferred in from Ohio State, where he was a fullback. He was moved to defense during the season last year, and worked exclusively with the first group. Again, no starting jobs have been locked up, but Durham hasn't done anything to warrant himself being demoted.

LB - Mike Caprara
Caprara's career has certainly taking some interesting turns already. He wasn't even offered by Pitt until very late in the recruiting process. After redshirting, Caprara found himself with the first group at middle linebacker for the entire spring. He may be filling in for the injured Shane Gordon. Caprara, this spring, showed that he can handle being with the first group, and seems to understand all the calls he would have to make at this position.

LB - Todd Thomas
Todd Thomas enters his fourth season with the Pitt program, but this is his first full spring. He's had to sit out the last two, due to injury. Therefore, the 2013 season will be the season he's most prepared for. He was a big addition when he was able to return to the lineup in Week Five last year. He's got the experience, but just staying healthy has been his biggest obstacle. This spring, he was able to do that and be a big part of the defense.

LB - Anthony Gonzalez
Gonzalez earned the award two years ago for his improvement at quarterback. He has a chance to become one of the first players to earn the award at two different positions. He moved to safety last year, and found himself on the field more towards the end of the season. He moved to linebacker, and has excelled. The move appears to have paid off. Gonzalez is in excellent position to start, while Pitt gets the help it needs at this position.

LB - Ejuan Price
After taking a redshirt last year, due to a torn pectoral injury, Price is pushing for a starting spot. The coaching staff has been impressed with his work ethic this spring--not only overcoming an injury--but for simply pushing for playing time, whether he's with the first group or second group.

S - Eric Williams
Williams was the starting outside linebacker last year, but was moved to safety to better utilize his abilities. He's shown a good understanding of his new position, and will give the coaching staff an option in the fall, when Jason Hendricks comes back into the mix. They already know what they have in Hendricks, an all-conference player. Having Williams back there, potentially starting alongside Hendricks, is a win-win situation for all.

S - Jevonte Pitts
Pitts might not be pushing for a starting spot with Hendricks, Williams and Ray Vinopal at the position, but he certainly played like it this spring. After redshirting in 2012, and after spending a year at Milford, Pitts has acclimated himself well, and could contribute in some type of role as early as this season.

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