Pitt returns 7 players with playing experience in the secondary, including both of last year's starters at cornerback and also both backup cornerbacks who have all started in the past. The Panthers lost both of their starting safeties from a year ago, but return two backups who have a lot of game experience and also a blue-chip, prep school transfer. At cornerback, Pitt returns both starters in Torrie Cox, 5-10 185, senior and Shawntae Spencer, 6-2 175, junior. Both were really playing at a high level the 2nd half of the season and Torrie had an outstanding Tangerine Bowl, and looked to be the best player on the field that night. Shawntae has always been a very good cover corner, but he has improved his run defense also. Shawn Robinson, 6-1 190, senior and William Ferguson, 5-10 185, junior have both started a lot of games and will each push for a starting position this year. Taron Gray, 5-11 190, senior, also returns and has had a good bit of playing time. Tez Morris, 5-10 175, redshirt freshmen also figures into the mix, and will be needed before long with the team having three seniors at the corner this year. This should be a excellent group of corners as they all have played a lot and gained valuable game experience.
At safety, Pitt needs to get a lot of work down this spring with the losses of multi-year starters Ramon Walker and Mark Ponko. Walker is a 3 year all Big East selection and is expected to be drafted high in the NFL draft this year. Mark Ponko didn't have the greatest size or speed, but he made a ton of plays over the years and was a very good in run support. Corey Humphries, 6-2 205, junior, who has backed up Walker the last few years, has played very well the few times he started for Ramon when he was injured. Gary Urschler, 5-10 195, senior who is a Ponko clone, is a smart player and has a lot of experience, plus he logged a lot of time in the Tangerine Bowl last year. Two very talented reserves figure to push for the starting positions. Tyrone Gilliard, 5-11 185, sophomore who played as a true freshmen last year and made a ton of big plays and hard hits on special teams, and Josh Lay, 6-2 190, true freshmen who transferred from prep school and will be participating in spring practice. Josh was a blue-chip recruit out of High School and a standout at prep school on both sides of the ball. Josh has also added additional weight to prepare himself for the safety position. Tyrone made a huge play on a fake punt by Virginia Tech last season and made hard hits on special teams all year including a big hit in the Tangerine Bowl. Additional players looking for time at safety this year includes, JJ Horne, 6-3 210, redshirt freshmen and Ian Riddick, 5-10 190, junior.