Add another starter to the list of players unavailable for spring drills.
Jaymar Parrish, Pitt's starting fullback and the second tight end on the depth chart, is out for the rest of Pitt's spring practice period according to head coach Pat Narduzzi.
"[He] was really having a great spring," Narduzzi said, "he’s going to be fine but we’ll probably shelf him for the spring."
Dontez Ford has been inactive since last week, while Zach Challingsworth, Alex Officer and Jaryd Jones-Smith were ruled out of spring drills before the first practice last week. Narduzzi shared that Parrish was hurt in a non-contact drill Tuesday and called the injury a fluke.
"Actually took the handoff, if you can imagine that, really looked good, made a nice cut, jogged back and didn’t feel as good after that," Narduzzi said.
If one had to guess, Parrish likely hurt something in his legs--maybe a minor knee injury as it was described Parrish reported the injury after making a cut. But the exact injury and its extent was not offered.
Because it is the only the spring, there's no point in pushing players to overcome an injury they may be able to play through during the season. Narduzzi made clear Parrish will be fully available in the fall when the Panthers return for their preseason training camp.
-- Chris Clark may be the most talented of any player joining the Panthers in the Class of 2016, but if he can play this fall is still up in the air. Clark played in one game as a freshman at UCLA, but left the program within weeks of the season starting due to a case of mononucleosis and a desire to be closer to home.
Pitt and Clark are trying to petition the NCAA to gain eligibility for Clark this season, but the case looks like a longshot. If tight ends coach Tim Salem had his way, it would be settled by now.
"If I worked for [the NCAA] it would’ve been decided already and it would’ve been over with," Salem said. "But they want to do what they want to do."
Clark's presence at spring drills affords him the chance to catch up on some of the football he missed as he was away from the game for just about all of the 2015 season. While Clark isn't behind as far as playing the game goes, the biggest challenge so far has been expanding his knowledge base under the new system implemented by offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
"If you’re a football player you’re a football player," Salem said. "It’s just a matter of, like all these kids on the offensive side of the ball, you’re learning a new scheme, new formations, new terms, new words, new plays. So it’s the comfort zone of taking your brain from Spanish to also now speak German, or French and go to Latin.
"You’re speaking a foreign language, so the faster you’re able to communicate that the faster you become a player."
Narduzzi says Clark has done well show far, showing off the speed, power and skill that make him a weapon at the tight end. On the other hand, Narduzzi wants the No. 1-ranked tight end in the Class of 2015 to focus more on his present situation.
"You can see why he’s the top tight end in the country," Narduzzi said. "But sometimes when you’re the top tight end in the country, you think you’re up here and really you’re not the top tight end in the country anymore.
"Rivals and Scout [rankings], all that stuff doesn’t matter anymore. It’s Pitt now."
-- Defensive end Allen Edwards has been limited for the first two weeks of spring practice but Narduzzi indicated the redshirt junior is nearing a return. Narduzzi said Edwards may have been able to participate in Thursday's drills, but emphasized the need to be smart with injured players in the spring.
Plus, the upcoming three-day weekend allows Edwards extra time to be fully ready to practice.
"I think we probably could've threw him out there today," Narduzzi said, "but we’re going to give them off Friday, Saturday, Sunday to enjoy Easter weekend and hopefully by Tuesday we have him back out there ready to roll."
-- As Narduzzi mentions, the Panthers have a three-day weekend this week as Pitt will not practice on Saturday as is regularly-scheduled during this period.
During the regular season, the players on the team are limited in their ability to celebrate holidays with family and Narduzzi made it a priority when scheduling spring drills to afford them the chance spend the Easter holiday at home.
"I wanted to make sure the kids got off," Narduzzi said. "They didn’t really get to celebrate Thanksgiving, really didn’t get to spend Christmas with their families, so I wanted to make sure with another national holiday this weekend the kids had some time off."