2013 Preview: The Secondary

Even though the Panthers were hit hard with the loss of three safeties, they return All-Big East performer Jason Hendricks, and a number of options in finding a new starter.

Pitt's secondary is one of the top units overall, offense or defense.

Already with a good supporting cast up front, the secondary benefits from three returning starters who combined for 36 starts; safety Jason Hendricks (12), corner K'Waun Williams (11) and corner Lafayette Pitts (13).

Cullen Christian also made two starts, and saw significant playing time in the bowl game. Ray Vinopal started the opener against Youngstown State, at safety.

With the luxury of three returning starters, the Panthers have a lot of options in terms of what they can do with their depth. One potential option is moving Christian to safety, to get him on the field, if they're not going to start him at corner. He did play in 12 games, and looked good in his starts at corner. It's hard to find a reason why the can't get him on the field. At the very least, he's well-suited to be another corner in dime or nickel packages.

It also shouldn't be hard to break in a new starter at safety with Hendricks back there, who picked off six passes last year, earning All-Big East honors and preseason All-ACC honors.

Though their initial experiment with moving Eric Williams didn't pan out due to Williams being dismissed from the team, there are a lot of players capable of breaking in as a safety. If they don't look to Christian as an option, Vinopal does have starting experience--although it was in a 31-17 loss to Youngstown State. Coming off a redshirt year is Ryan Lewis and Jevonte Pitts. Pitts played a pivotal role in the spring as a reserve, and he earned a lot of praise from players and coaches for his play on the scout team last year.

Rachid Ibrahim, Titus Howard and Terrish Webb all join the secondary this year. Ibrahim is slated to be at safety, while Howard and Webb will fill out where they are needed.

In addition to Lewis, Pitt also adds redshirt freshmen Trenton Coles and Jahmahl Pardner. Coles saw a significant amount of time at corner in the spring. Pardner saw a significant role as a true freshman, before being lost of for the season with a knee injury. If he's healthy enough, he could resume his role as a nickel or dime corner.

Brendon Felder was limited due to injuries a year ago. He moved to defensive back during last season, where he too could provide depth.

Overall, the secondary position is unique in the sense that it returns significant experience, with a number of other promising players. Those up-and-comers have a golden opportunity to earn small roles this, in working their way up, while not having too much pressure put upon them.

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