Notebook: Spring Practice #5

News and notes from Pitt's practice March 24 including reflection on the team's scrimmage Saturday, a look at prime candidates to step in at outside linebacker and thoughts from defensive line coach Tom Sims.

Pitt football continued its spring practice schedule as the Panthers opened their second week of work with their fifth practice of the season, and the first since Saturday's scrimmage.

Just like the previous practices, head coach Pat Narduzzi is still looking for his team to pick up the pace.

"We still have to pick up our tempo because it’s not good enough," Narduzzi said. "We can be better. Little by little we’ll get to where we need to be."

--Narduzzi and the team were able to reflect on their first scrimmage, and the head coach took it for what it was.

"It was a solid scrimmage," Narduzzi said. "I was happy with where we were at in scrimmage number one."

He stressed Thursday he looks for his team to get "three percent better" with each practice this spring. In that area, the results from the scrimmage didn't seem to please him all that well.

"Some guys did [get better], how about that?" Narduzzi said. "It’d be nice if everybody got three percent better."

Outside linebacker Bam Bradley, looking to assume one of the starting positions voided by Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez, noted the team came away with the knowledge it will "compete, definitely, on both sides of the ball."

"We still got a lot of work to do to get to where the coaches want us to be because their system wins, there’s no way around it," Bradley said. "We know we’ve got to get up to the level they expect us to be at."

The defensive line is another position the Panthers look to find new contributors at and coach Tom Sims said he saw an "up and down" effort from his players.

"You strive to be consistent," Sims said. "That’ll be our focus going into this week."

--In the linebacking group, the Panthers must replace Anthony Gonzalez and Todd Thomas who ranked first and second on the team with 81 and 73 tackles respectively. Matt Galambos returns at middle linebacker while Bradley and 2014 special teams ace Nicholas Grigsby look primed to take over at the Star and Money spots flanking him.

"We need two athletic guys at outside linebacker," Narduzzi said. "They both have that athletic ability."

Bradley started one game last year and played in all 13 and made 36 tackles with four for loss and two sacks while intercepting one pass. He has already played in 24 games as he enters his junior season.

Narduzzi's emphasis for Bradley is breaking some "bad habits" which boil down to not playing at 100 percent 100 percent of the time. Bradley is already aware, which his coach complimented.

"On the backside of the play, just being too casual, not running to the ball all the time like they want," Bradley said. "That’s something that’s going to help propel me, even into the next level because at that level that’s every down, every day."

Grigsby enters his senior year with 37 games played. He saw action in all 13 last year compiled 28 tackles with four for loss and three sacks while forcing three fumbles to tie for the team lead.

After playing on the line and in special teams, the opportunity to plant himself atop the depth chart as a linebacker is one Grigsby welcomes.

"I’m real excited to play linebacker again," Grigsby said. "That’s where my heart’s at so I’m excited to make some plays."

--The defensive line is likely set at its interior with Darryl Render and Khaynin Mosley-Smith returning as starters from last season. The edge is a different story with a mix of players

"It’s going to be a battle," Sims said. "We have some players with explosion, some with size, and others with experience."

Shakir Soto started 13 games last season and recorded 31 tackles with one for loss.

Ejuan Price has the most experience despite missing nearly all of the last two seasons due to injury. Price has shown he can contribute when healthy, something Narduzzi pointed out as a priority after the first day of practice.

"I think that Ejuan Price has a considerable upside," Sims said. "We’ll have to get him healthy. He seems to have a good attitude. We’ll take it as it comes, but I’m pleased with his focus."

Rori Blair showed flashes as well in 12 games as a true freshman last season. He led the Panthers with five sacks and totaled 14 tackles with 5.5 for loss while earning two starts.

Sims' priority for Blair is helping him gain weight as he enters spring ball at 230 pounds on a 6-foot-4 frame.

"I want him to eat, lift and run," Sims said. "In that order. Hopefully that leads to good weight gain."

--4-star Central Catholic cornerback Damar Hamlin attended practice Tuesday. Ranked the nation's No. 265 overall prospect in the Class of 2016 and top player in the state, Hamlin has interest from Pitt, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA and 13 scholarship offers already.

VIDEO

Spring Practice Highlights March 24

Pat Narduzzi

Tom Sims

Bam Bradley

Nicholas Grigsby

Avonte Maddox


Panther Digest Top Stories

Follow @PantherDigest\r\n\r\n

Pitt football continued its spring practice schedule as the Panthers opened their second week of work with their fifth practice of the season, and the first since Saturday's scrimmage.

\r\n

Just like the previous practices, head coach Pat Narduzzi is still looking for his team to pick up the pace.

\r\n

\"We still have to pick up our tempo because it’s not good enough,\" Narduzzi said. \"We can be better. Little by little we’ll get to where we need to be.\"

\r\n

--Narduzzi and the team were able to reflect on their first scrimmage, and the head coach took it for what it was.

\r\n

\"It was a solid scrimmage,\" Narduzzi said. \"I was happy with where we were at in scrimmage number one.\"

\r\n

He stressed Thursday he looks for his team to get \"three percent better\" with each practice this spring. In that area, the results from the scrimmage didn't seem to please him all that well.

\r\n

\"Some guys did [get better], how about that?\" Narduzzi said. \"It’d be nice if everybody got three percent better.\"

\r\n

Outside linebacker Bam Bradley, looking to assume one of the starting positions voided by Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez, noted the team came away with the knowledge it will \"compete, definitely, on both sides of the ball.\"

\r\n

\"We still got a lot of work to do to get to where the coaches want us to be because their system wins, there’s no way around it,\" Bradley said. \"We know we’ve got to get up to the level they expect us to be at.\"

\r\n

The defensive line is another position the Panthers look to find new contributors at and coach Tom Sims said he saw an \"up and down\" effort from his players.

\r\n

\"You strive to be consistent,\" Sims said. \"That’ll be our focus going into this week.\"

\r\n

--In the linebacking group, the Panthers must replace Anthony Gonzalez and Todd Thomas who ranked first and second on the team with 81 and 73 tackles respectively. Matt Galambos returns at middle linebacker while Bradley and 2014 special teams ace Nicholas Grigsby look primed to take over at the Star and Money spots flanking him.

\r\n

\"We need two athletic guys at outside linebacker,\" Narduzzi said. \"They both have that athletic ability.\"

\r\n

Bradley started one game last year and played in all 13 and made 36 tackles with four for loss and two sacks while intercepting one pass. He has already played in 24 games as he enters his junior season.

\r\n

Narduzzi's emphasis for Bradley is breaking some \"bad habits\" which boil down to not playing at 100 percent 100 percent of the time. Bradley is already aware, which his coach complimented.

\r\n

\"On the backside of the play, just being too casual, not running to the ball all the time like they want,\" Bradley said. \"That’s something that’s going to help propel me, even into the next level because at that level that’s every down, every day.\"

\r\n

Grigsby enters his senior year with 37 games played. He saw action in all 13 last year compiled 28 tackles with four for loss and three sacks while forcing three fumbles to tie for the team lead.

\r\n

After playing on the line and in special teams, the opportunity to plant himself atop the depth chart as a linebacker is one Grigsby welcomes.

\r\n

\"I’m real excited to play linebacker again,\" Grigsby said. \"That’s where my heart’s at so I’m excited to make some plays.\"

\r\n

--The defensive line is likely set at its interior with Darryl Render and Khaynin Mosley-Smith returning as starters from last season. The edge is a different story with a mix of players \r\n

\"It’s going to be a battle,\" Sims said. \"We have some players with explosion, some with size, and others with experience.\"

\r\n

Shakir Soto started 13 games last season and recorded 31 tackles with one for loss.

\r\n

Ejuan Price has the most experience despite missing nearly all of the last two seasons due to injury. Price has shown he can contribute when healthy, something Narduzzi pointed out as a priority after the first day of practice.

\r\n

\"I think that Ejuan Price has a considerable upside,\" Sims said. \"We’ll have to get him healthy. He seems to have a good attitude. We’ll take it as it comes, but I’m pleased with his focus.\"

\r\n

Rori Blair showed flashes as well in 12 games as a true freshman last season. He led the Panthers with five sacks and totaled 14 tackles with 5.5 for loss while earning two starts.

\r\n

Sims' priority for Blair is helping him gain weight as he enters spring ball at 230 pounds on a 6-foot-4 frame.

\r\n

\"I want him to eat, lift and run,\" Sims said. \"In that order. Hopefully that leads to good weight gain.\"

\r\n

--4-star Central Catholic cornerback Damar Hamlin attended practice Tuesday. Ranked the nation's No. 265 overall prospect in the Class of 2016 and top player in the state, Hamlin has interest from Pitt, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA and 13 scholarship offers already.

\r\n

VIDEO

\r\n

Spring Practice Highlights March 24

\r\n

Pat Narduzzi

\r\n

Tom Sims

\r\n

Bam Bradley

\r\n

Nicholas Grigsby

\r\n

Avonte Maddox

","mobileBody":"Follow @NateBarnes_ Follow @PantherDigest

Pitt football continued its spring practice schedule as the Panthers opened their second week of work with their fifth practice of the season, and the first since Saturday's scrimmage.

Just like the previous practices, head coach Pat Narduzzi is still looking for his team to pick up the pace.

\"We still have to pick up our tempo because it’s not good enough,\" Narduzzi said. \"We can be better. Little by little we’ll get to where we need to be.\"

--Narduzzi and the team were able to reflect on their first scrimmage, and the head coach took it for what it was.

\"It was a solid scrimmage,\" Narduzzi said. \"I was happy with where we were at in scrimmage number one.\"

He stressed Thursday he looks for his team to get \"three percent better\" with each practice this spring. In that area, the results from the scrimmage didn't seem to please him all that well.

\"Some guys did [get better], how about that?\" Narduzzi said. \"It’d be nice if everybody got three percent better.\"

Outside linebacker Bam Bradley, looking to assume one of the starting positions voided by Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez, noted the team came away with the knowledge it will \"compete, definitely, on both sides of the ball.\"

\"We still got a lot of work to do to get to where the coaches want us to be because their system wins, there’s no way around it,\" Bradley said. \"We know we’ve got to get up to the level they expect us to be at.\"

The defensive line is another position the Panthers look to find new contributors at and coach Tom Sims said he saw an \"up and down\" effort from his players.

\"You strive to be consistent,\" Sims said. \"That’ll be our focus going into this week.\"

--In the linebacking group, the Panthers must replace Anthony Gonzalez and Todd Thomas who ranked first and second on the team with 81 and 73 tackles respectively. Matt Galambos returns at middle linebacker while Bradley and 2014 special teams ace Nicholas Grigsby look primed to take over at the Star and Money spots flanking him.

\"We need two athletic guys at outside linebacker,\" Narduzzi said. \"They both have that athletic ability.\"

Bradley started one game last year and played in all 13 and made 36 tackles with four for loss and two sacks while intercepting one pass. He has already played in 24 games as he enters his junior season.

Narduzzi's emphasis for Bradley is breaking some \"bad habits\" which boil down to not playing at 100 percent 100 percent of the time. Bradley is already aware, which his coach complimented.

\"On the backside of the play, just being too casual, not running to the ball all the time like they want,\" Bradley said. \"That’s something that’s going to help propel me, even into the next level because at that level that’s every down, every day.\"

Grigsby enters his senior year with 37 games played. He saw action in all 13 last year compiled 28 tackles with four for loss and three sacks while forcing three fumbles to tie for the team lead.

After playing on the line and in special teams, the opportunity to plant himself atop the depth chart as a linebacker is one Grigsby welcomes.

\"I’m real excited to play linebacker again,\" Grigsby said. \"That’s where my heart’s at so I’m excited to make some plays.\"

--The defensive line is likely set at its interior with Darryl Render and Khaynin Mosley-Smith returning as starters from last season. The edge is a different story with a mix of players

\"It’s going to be a battle,\" Sims said. \"We have some players with explosion, some with size, and others with experience.\"

Shakir Soto started 13 games last season and recorded 31 tackles with one for loss.

Ejuan Price has the most experience despite missing nearly all of the last two seasons due to injury. Price has shown he can contribute when healthy, something Narduzzi pointed out as a priority after the first day of practice.

\"I think that Ejuan Price has a considerable upside,\" Sims said. \"We’ll have to get him healthy. He seems to have a good attitude. We’ll take it as it comes, but I’m pleased with his focus.\"

Rori Blair showed flashes as well in 12 games as a true freshman last season. He led the Panthers with five sacks and totaled 14 tackles with 5.5 for loss while earning two starts.

Sims' priority for Blair is helping him gain weight as he enters spring ball at 230 pounds on a 6-foot-4 frame.

\"I want him to eat, lift and run,\" Sims said. \"In that order. Hopefully that leads to good weight gain.\"

--4-star Central Catholic cornerback Damar Hamlin attended practice Tuesday. Ranked the nation's No. 265 overall prospect in the Class of 2016 and top player in the state, Hamlin has interest from Pitt, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA and 13 scholarship offers already.

VIDEO

Spring Practice Highlights March 24

Pat Narduzzi

Tom Sims

Bam Bradley

Nicholas Grigsby

Avonte Maddox

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