Thursday Rewind: Close Group In The Making

Asked if this is a close group because the majority was recruited by the current staff, head coach Paul Chryst credits the players. Some of the players think so, but for a senior in Matt Rotheram, it's tough to tell if this is the closest team he's been on in his five years with the program.

Jaryd Jones-Smith says this spring was a big one for him. Not only exciting because it's his first spring in Pittsburgh, but he quickly got his first shot with the first team.

"Probably about halfway through (spring) where I got it, and I felt like I belonged here (with the first team)," Jaryd Jones-Smith. "Going with the ones, there is a lot of pressure on you."

Jones-Smith's play at left tackle was one of the highlights of the spring. We'll have to wait and see how Adam Bisnowaty recovers after some more time away, recovering from a back injury last year. At the very least, Pitt is starting to develop some depth on the offensive line.

For Ray Vinopal, he's putting together his fourth season in a Panther uniform. It hasn't always been easy--starting off at Michigan, then transferring to Pitt to sit out a year as a transfer, before working his way to get on the field.

"It's hard," Vinopal explained. "Sometimes you don't want to see a coach go, but it's part of it."

All of a sudden, Vinopal finds himself in a leadership role--one he's very comfortable with.

"I like being in that role," Vinopal added. "I'm with a great group of guys."

Matt Rotheram, entering his fifth year in the program, is one of the few remaining members of Dave Wannstedt's 2010 recruiting class. That last group, and even the teams he may have seen on his recruiting visits, were pretty close groups. Is this the closest team he's seen at Pitt?

One of the guys Vinopal will be in charge of, at least from a leadership perspective, is Trenton Coles.

Coles worked his way into a reserve corner role last year, and even on special teams. Now, he's pushing for a starting job, competing with another former Clairton star in Titus Howard.

"Thats not up to me," Coles said, explaining that the coaches will decide who starts. "I would like to start with him, but that's not up to me,"

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