Rowell's Perseverance Pays Off

Ideally, offensive line coach Jim Hueber is looking for his best five. Within that, he's seen some good competition for the five spots on the line, which has led to better depth.

Artie Rowell committed to Pitt back in May of 2010. Rowell was a high school junior at the time, and Dave Wannstedt was still the Panthers' head coach.

Since then, five different people--including two interim head coaches--have been Pitt's head coach.

Rowell stuck with his commitment to the program--truly defining what it means to be committed to a school.

After redshirting in 2011, playing for a different head coach than the one he initially chose to play for, Rowell had to adjust to another coaching style when Paul Chryst was hired in December of 2012. Jim Hueber came on board to also be Pitt's new offensive line coach.

"Here's a guy who came in, really didn't know what to expect with us," Hueber said. "I talked to him, it would be hard to play you with the style of offense we're playing if you're going to be 270 pounds. Now, he's about 305. He's the first guy here, he's studying. He's doing everything he can do for a chance to be with the ones (first unit), and that's what he's done. He's a testament to hard work and heeding to what the coaches are saying to you."

Rowell is in a battle for the starting center spot with redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts. Roberts was moved to center in the spring, despite not having played the position in his career. Earlier in camp, Roberts credited Rowell for pushing him as well.

"He's always working hard," Roberts said. "He's always finishing plays, so I really try to keep doing that, too. If I have a question about something, I go to him because he knows the offenses a little bit better than I do because he's been here longer."

Rowell's hard work and patience has paid off, as he's now getting a shot with the first group. The job hasn't been won yet, but Rowell played with the first group in Friday's scrimmage.

"You appreciate that, he is a worker," head coach Paul Chryst said. "As you get to know someone, the best thing for myself and all of the coaches is to see effort. By his actions, he's earned that label. He's certainly a smart guy and he loves the game. Every coach appreciates that. He's smart enough to know what he needs to do to get better. We appreciate what he does and like him a lot."

As for Rowell, where does he give credit to bringing this type of attitude?

I think a lot of that has to do with the way you're raised," Rowell said. "I've never been one to back out. I didn't leave when Coach Wannstedt left. I love Pitt. Academically, this is where I wanted to be at. I enjoy working and earning something."

In addition to Rowell's progression, Hueber has been pleased with Juantez Hollins being a swing guy--someone who can play left tackle or right tackle, to push Adam Bisnowaty on the left side and T.J. Clemmings on the right side. Dorian Johnson has showed him a lot. He's comfortable either redshirting Johnson at this point, but says he'll continue to get him prepared to see the field if needed.

"If T.J. keeps progressing the way he has, and we get through the season, and (Johnson) hasn't played any significant snaps, where you're putting him in the game for real, then you have to make a decision if you can play three tackles for the rest of the year," Hueber said. "Our plan is to keep Dorian in the two-deep, and get him ready to play. (Hollins) is really trying to be a professional. He knows when we flip him over, we're counting on him. He's a professional."

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