It's tough for any player to sit out a year after transferring. Garner will have the biggest opportunity on offense to make a name for himself, but also carries the pressure of taking attention of a new starting quarterback, a new starting running back and all-conference receiver Devin Street.
Garner will be used multiple ways. Though he's listed at tight end, he may also be rolled out to receiver and in the slot. In addition to helping with the short passing game, he can also block because of his size. Don't be surprised to see him stretch the field, as well.
If he does all those things well, he'll obviously make a name for himself. More importantly, more the benefit of the team, it will help take some pressure off Tom Savage as he takes over the starting quarterback job. It will also take pressure off a new running back and also open things up for Street. Street will still be the go-to guy, but opponents will not be able to double-team Street because of Garner.
The biggest question facing Boyd when he entered camp, was whether or not he could pick up the offense and adjust to the speed of the college game. He proved that in camp. Now, it's up to him to do it in games.
One thing that should help Boyd is that he won't be heavily relied on in the passing game. With players such as Street and Garner also involved, anything Boyd can supplement to what the older players produce, will benefit the offense as a whole.
Perhaps no player took advantage of extra reps this camp than James Conner did, from day one all the way through training camp.
Conner came to Pitt as a two-star rated defensive end prospect. After a successful training camp, he's in very good position to be the starting running back for the opener against Florida State.
He seems well-conditioned to take on the role, as he took on the most reps at running back without having to miss anything. He seems to have a good understanding of the offense, and doesn't appear intimidated at adjusting to the college level. He's durable, and responded to every bit of coaching over the last three weeks.
No other lineman was facing the pressure that Clemmings was going to have in training camp. He needed to pick up where he left off after spring, and he did that. Even though offensive line coach Jim Hueber was harder on Clemmings than any other lineman, Clemmings passed with flying colors. Never once was he pulled, or was anyone else experimented in his role.
Though Juantez Hollins was expected to compete at right tackle, he was also tested at left tackle. True freshman Dorian Johnson lived up to the hype in training camp. Though we may still see Johnson on the field this year in some kind of role, the coaching staff never wavered on Clemmings.
Though Gabe Roberts spent the majority of the time with the first group at center in spring, and for the first two weeks of training camp, Rowell's perseverance paid off when he broke in with the first last week. The starting center job has not been locked up by anyone yet, but Rowell didn't give in despite Roberts playing well, too.
Rowell's persistence and drive is something this coaching staff wants to see at all positions.
The last time Price saw the field, he was an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Since then, Pitt has gone back to the 4-3, and Price was forced to miss the 2012 season due to a pectoral injury.
One top of that, Price was moved to a new position. All he did was thrive, one of the best overall players in training camp. In fact, Pitt appears to be in good shape with David Durham and Bryan Murphy set to be starters. Price will push both of them, and depending on the opponent, Price could come in as the starter.
Not that the front four needed another boost, they got one. Price played in all 13 games as a freshman in 2011, starting five. With his experience, his abilities, and now his understanding of his new position in a new scheme, the defense has one more playmaker in the fold.
It would have been easy for Price to throw in the towel, all things considered. The new scheme, sitting out a year, moving to a new position, all he did was thrive in training camp.
Even though Mike Caprara entered training camp with the first team, and the fact that Bradley had no previous playing experience as a redshirt freshman, the move he made to be with the first group in the second half of training camp shows how much he developed this month.
Bradley came to Pitt as a highly-regarded safety prospect in the 2012 recruiting class. He was one of four freshman linebackers to redshirt last year, and now, Bradley is closest to starting.
Aside from Price, Bradley is the next defensive player that took advantage of training camps and the reps he earned, to make a move on the depth chart.
For a position that needed some stability this training camp, Gordon was the glue that kept it all together. He proved he's healthy, coming off a season where he suffered an ankle injury and an offseason that required neck surgery.
He doesn't appear to be bothered by either injury. He accounted for three interceptions in training camp--proof of his playmaking ability. More importantly, his leadership was crucial for the younger players, as well as Todd Thomas getting back in the mix.
Christian was moved to safety from corner this year, and is poised for a bigger role this year. Even with Hendricks returning, there is going to be a battle for that other safety spot between Christian and Ray Vinopal. Vinopal may have the edge right now based on his understanding of the defense, but Christian showed no problems in learning his new position. He totaled three interceptions in training camp--and that's just from the morning sessions that were open to the media.
Pitt is set with starters in Lafayette Pitts and K'Waun Williams. They have the luxury of developing depth. Despite Trenton Coles, Jahmahl Pardner and Brendon Felder all being in the system for a year, Howard is right on track with them thanks to his work in training camp. It's still up for a debate as to if he'll play or redshirt this year. Because of his work in training camp, he's at least in consideration.
Much like Howard, it looked like Webb would have to wait his turn behind other redshirted players such as Jevonte Pitts and Ryan Lewis. By the end of camp, Webb was getting a look with the second-team, as well. With all the attention focused on Boyd at receiver, Howard and Webb used training camp as a way to work themselves into contention for a spot, as well.