Top battles for positions going into camp

When camp opens on Saturday, a number of positions will be available. Who will win the starting nod? Which true freshmen could take a redshirt?

Camp starts this Saturday and the starting jobs for several positions are up for grabs and many backup positions need to be filled also. These are the top battles I see for fall camp:

1. QB - Who will win the starting job? This is the million dollar question! Will it be redshirt junior Rod Rutherford or redshirt sophomore Pat Hoderny? Will true freshmen Tyler Palko and Luke Getsy push for the starting position? Word is that Rod has improved this summer and that Walt Harris would like to redshirt both incoming freshmen.

Any injury to either QB will most likely force one of the freshmen to play this season.

2. WR - Lamar Slade is the only returning wide receiver with much game experience. Roosevelt Bynes, a true sophomore, and Joe Stephens, a redshirt freshman, have a year in the system now but will be pushed by incoming recruits Larry Fitzgerald, Princell Brockenbrough and Billy Gaines. Marcus Furman, who was moved from running back to wide receiver this spring, should also make an impact. Six talented players, but one senior, four freshmen and two true sophomores really shows a lack of experience!

3. RB - This one should really be a great battle. Brandon Miree is the much talked about transfer from Alabama and at 6-2, 235 lbs, he should really be a force. Do not count out last year's starter Raymond Kirkley, who did a very nice job last season as a true freshman. Tim Murphy, a 5-10, 230 lb redshirt freshman should also make a strong push for the starting position. He looked excellent this spring and gives the Panthers their deepest group of running backs in a long time.

4. Safety - Pitt needs to replace both starters from last season. Two potential starters in Corey Humphries and Gary Urschler both suffered torn ACL's this spring and will not be available till the second half of the season at best. The free safety battle looks to be between junior William Ferguson and redshirt freshman Tez Morris. The strong safety position should be a battle between sophomore Tyrone Gilliard and redshirt freshman Darren McCray. Cornerback Josh Lay could also push for time if moved to safety.

5. Linebacker depth - Seniors Gerald Hayes and Brian Beinecke are set as the starters, along with redshirt junior Lewis Moore. The backup positions will need to be solidified. Sophomores Malcolm Postell and Mike Jemison figure to win backup positions. Both are converted running backs. Scott McCurley, who is a former walk-on, will battle for the backup middle linebacker position with incoming bluechip freshman recruit Azzie Beagnyam. Charles Sallet is another impressive incoming freshman who looks to push for playing time this season. Redshirt freshman JJ Horne and true freshman Brian Bennett will be in the mix to break into the two-deep also. Walk-ons Malcolm Pinder and Ken Pryke both had impressive springs and will push for playing time.

6. Fullback - At fullback, Lousaka Polite is the returning starter and one of the best fullbacks in the country. He still will face a tough battle for the starting position from Dustin Picciotti. Dustin is a former High School All-American with unlimited potential. Both should see a lot of playing time this year. Any injuries at this position will most likely force true freshman A.J. Schneider into the lineup.

7. Defensive Tackle - This should also be a very interesting fight for not only the starting positions, but for the backup positions too. True sophomore Tyre Young is the only definite starter at this point. Redshirt junior Darrell McMurray and redshirt sophomore Dan Stephens will compete for the other starting position.

Others looking to break into the two-deep are redshirt sophomores Vince Crochunis and Jake Holthaus, true sophomore Troy Banner and redshirt freshman Charles Spencer. After Tyre Young, this group is very even in talent, and considering the group consists of one 4th-year junior and three 3rd-year sophomores, this group should be much improved.


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