Spring Practice Notebook

PITTSBURGH -- Spring practice opened for the University of Pittsburgh football team Saturday morning at the UPMC Sports Complex's indoor practice facility, as the Panthers look to get a jump on the upcoming season.

Coach Dave Wannstedt, 11-12 in his first two years back at Pitt, has several starting jobs up for grabs and made some position changes to provide depth and competition at those spots.
     "Our guys have worked extremely hard to get to this point with the lifting and running and agility (training),'' Wannstedt said. "That was evident out here because there wasn't anybody bending over (being) tired. (And) we'll have some real good, healthy competition in some spots, but until we get the pads on and do some scrimmage work it's too early to tell.''

The Panthers must practice in just shorts with no pads for the first two days, so today's workout will also be limited to installing some plays, conducting drills and fundamental teaching by the coaching staff.

Now that three-year starting quarterback Tyler Palko has graduated, this spot will have the most competition that it's had in the Wannstedt era. Junior Bill Stull ran with the first team in the first practice, while redshirt freshman Kevan Smith was the backup. Another redshirt frosh, Dexter Davidson, has surgery on both knees last year and is still getting healthy.

Pat Bostick, listed among the top 10 scholastic quarterbacks in the nation, is the brightest blue-chip recruit enrolling at Pitt in the fall. While he is extremely talented, Bostick is already behind those on the field this spring.

"The quarterback (position), it's just going to take time,'' Wannstedt said. "So, we have to be smart with them and not get ahead of ourselves. But it's a double-edged sword. We can take the pressure off them and give them a chance to mature a little bit, but you're not certain that you'll score enough points to win. So, that's the line that you're constantly walking.''

That's why Wannstedt will keep the quarterbacks live this spring. So, during contact drills, they can be hit as hard as any other player.

Pitt's coaching carousel
     After 14 seasons in several coaching capacities with the football program, Pitt associate head coach Bob Junko, has moved to a newly created administrative post within the University.
     Junko, 60, will still have football-related duties, but he will focus on daily operations and work with the football alumni outreach program.
     Brian Angelichio, a graduate assistant coach last season, has been promoted to full-time tight ends coach. Angelichio previously coached at Ithaca College from 1996-2005 as an offensive coordinator and other duties.

Quick slants
     • James Smith was hired as an assistant to strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris. Smith most recently coached at West Valley High School in Cottonwood, Calif. where he trained the football and track and field teams.
     Smith replaces Tom Myslinski, who was named as the Cleveland Browns strength and conditioning coach shortly after getting the job at Pitt.
     • Wannstedt noted that junior outside linebacker Tommy Campbell from Aliquippa and redshirt junior defensive tackle Corey Davis from Pittsburgh Peabody are still suspended indefinitely and will sit out spring drills. Their status for summer camp and the fall season is unknown as well.
     • Sophomore safety Elijah Fields has also been suspended for violating team policy, but he will return sometime during the spring.
     • Kelvin Chandler, a reserve cornerback from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has decided to transfer, while lineman Dave Weber (knee) is on medical leave.
     • After postseason surgery, DTs Mick Williams (shoulder) and John Malecki (shoulder), LB Jameel Brady (knee), DB Irvan Brown (knee) are practicing on a limited basis during the spring. After in-season surgery, DE Doug Fulmer (knee), C John Bachman (knee), TE John Pelusi (knee) and safeties Mike Phillips (ankle) and Eric Thatcher (knee) are ready to go. Also, LBs Dan Loheyde (knee) and Greg Webster (illness) are still battling back, but should be ready for summer training camp.


Panther More Top Stories