Wednesday Notebook: Jobs Still Up For Grabs

Several true freshmen and redshirt competing for spots on the two-deep.

With just a few practices left before training camp breaks, running back is just one position that is still up for grabs.

Spring ball opened with Rushel Shell, Isaac Bennett, Malcolm Crockett and Desmond Brown getting the first crack.

Today, the position has a completely different look. With Bennett being out of practice since last Saturday, due to injury, the transfer of Shell, and now Crockett being limited due to a shoulder, the bulk of the reps have gone to freshmen James Conner and Rachid Ibrahim.

Conner says that he refers to the tandem of him and Ibrahim as 'Thunder and Lightning,' because of their different styles. Though they've taken significant reps, and are speeding up their learning curve, Conner says he hasn't been told one way or the other if he'll be the starter on September 2 for the Florida State game. However, he's preparing himself if the opportunity presents itself.

"I plan on getting the reps, that's my mentality," Conner said. "They haven't really given anyone the starting job, except for (Tom) Savage. I've been taking the first-team reps whenever they call my name, so that's what I plan on doing."

COLES UP FOR A SPOT AT CORNER While most of the talk in training camp has centered around Tyler Boyd, and whether he can come in and start as a true freshman, another former Clairton standout is also getting a good look.

Trenton Coles, a redshirt freshman, is making the most of his opportunity at cornerback. Even though senior K'Waun Williams and sophomore Lafayette Pitts are returning starters at corner, Coles is getting a lot of reps with fellow redshirt freshman Jahmahl Pardner.

Defensive coordinator Matt House likes to use a third cornerback in extra back packages, making the third corner spot a very critical one for this season. For the long term, the winner of this position battle will quickly bump up to the first-team, when Williams graduates after this season.

"It's a battle," Coles said. "I gotta make plays. If I'm messing up, someone (else) is going to be better. It's a battle. I gotta work harder than I was. I have to keep competing."

True freshmen Titus Howard and Terrish Webb also got some work at corner and safety, respectively, on Tuesday. Both players had an interception.

What better person to ask about Tyler Boyd, than senior receiver Devin Street, who has taken Boyd under his wing.

Street, a redshirt senior, had to wait his turn behind other players like Jon Baldwin and Mike Shanahan when he came to Pitt. Unlike now, where there's a more urgent need to get Boyd on the field, with a void at receiver.

Street compared his experience, coming in as a freshman, to Boyd coming in. He has no doubts that Boyd is ready to go, ready to start.

"He's definitely ready," Street said of Boyd. "Just how he comes out every day, is amazing too. How he stepped up, how he learned the offense, he's just a smart kid. He's hungry too.

"It was a little different circumstances when I came in here. We had Jonathan Baldwin, Mike Shanahan, Oderick Turner. I think I came in the same way. He is a little bit more excelled, understanding route running and everything like that."

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