Bennett, Vinopal Assert Themselves As Leaders

Isaac Bennett and Ray Vinopal have battled many ups and downs during their Pitt careers. Leadership is definitely one of the ups.

When talking about running back Isaac Bennett, Paul Chryst only has positive things to say about one of the most positive players he's been around.

"Everyone has to be who they are, and Isaac embodies that which is good for this team," Chryst said.

Bennett was heading for a redshirt in 2011, before injuries pressed him in to action. He ended up playing in five games, rushing for 237 yards and four touchdowns.

In 2012, Rushel Shell arrived, and Ray Graham returned from injury. Bennett quietly waited his turn, as he saw his playing time diminish. In 2013, he rebounded, despite sharing the workload with James Conner. He rushed for 797 yards, while Conner rushed for 799.

"I come out and compete every time," Bennett says. "Just put me on the field. I just want to help the team get the 'W.'"

Hard to believe, but this is Ray Vinopal's fourth year in the program. He transferred in from Michigan after the 2010 season, then had to sit out the 2011 season due to the transfer rule. He rebounded, and was an Honorable Mention All-ACC selection in 2013.

"Most guys on the team don't even know I started at Michigan," Vinopal said, a strong reflection of how he's a fourth-year senior like the rest of the guys in his class.

Different from Bennett, Vinopal attributes recent players like Jason Hendricks and K'Waun Williams as passing the torch to him, along with current teammate Lafayette Pitts playing alongside him. In other words, it's just a natural transition, and it's something he relishes.

"I like to lead by example," Vinopal said. "I watch a lot of film, and I know X's and O's, so I can answer any questions the younger guys might have.

"We definitely have a lot of good leaders--guys who aren't afraid to get on somebody if they feel they're slacking."

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