Monday Afternoon Delight

While nothing has been settled just yet, and it probably won't be until at least after the Wednesday afternoon scrimmage, several players who had their spots up for grabs are taking steps toward earning starting roles for the Pitt football team this season.

The first is at quarterback, where junior Bill Stull has had several solid practice sessions in a row, and the other is at wide receiver where redshirt sophomore Oderick Turner and redshirt junior Marcel Pestano have performed at a higher level on a more consistent basis than sophomore Tamarcus Porter and redshirt sophomore Cedric McGee.

"You're going to give the older guys, if things are close, they're going to get the first opportunity,'' Wannstedt said. "Oderick's a returning starter, and Marcel was the third guy. So, that would be the right thing to do. But T.J. and Cedric are having a very good camp, also, and they'll all play.''

Each had a chance to shine in the Monday afternoon practice that was held indoors due to the threat of thunderstorms and pushed back a bit because the Pittsburgh Steelers had to practice indoors as well. Both Turner and Pestano made leaping grabs across the middle, and Porter made a tough catch in traffic as well. McGee had a chance to match them with a big play, but he battled redshirt frosh cornerback Ricky Gary and lost.

Stull made just one poor decision, but it's something that has occasionally cropped up. He tossed a pass up for grabs near the sideline, instead of just firing it out of bounds, and redshirt junior middle linebacker Scott McKillop picked it off. For the most part, though, Stull has been extremely efficient. And that's Wannstedt's No. 1 goal for whomever is his quarterback.

"I think our offense this year,'' Wannstedt said, "with a new quarterback being the starter, it's going to be important that he understands that there are good players around him. We want a guy that doesn't force things, just moves the chains and moves the football team.

"All three guys have made progress. There's no question about that, but we'll get through Tuesday and have another scrimmage (Wednesday), and then we'll wrap it up and start in on Eastern Michigan (the Sept. 1 opener).

"Once we get into game-planning, we won't do much juggling around, unless there's an injury,'' Wannstedt added. "But we're getting pretty close right now. And if we played today, Billy Stull would be the guy. He's had two or three really good practices, and ... he's going to get better and better.''

Wannstedt also noted that redshirt freshman Kevan Smith "needs as much work as he can get,'' while frosh Pat Bostick "is playing catch-up right now ... with the plays and the physical work.''

Freshman offensive guard Chris Jacobson's knee injury was worse than initially believed, but he still might not be lost for the season. Wannstedt confirmed that he will need surgery to repair the damage.

"It was just an unfortunate thing,'' Wannstedt said. "So, we'll see what happens, and we'll try to get him back as quickly as we can. Nothing will be decided on how long he'll be out until after the surgery, and that should take place next week. But we're still working through that.

"It was a pass-rush drill (Saturday), and he got twisted around. His knee twisted. He was wearing his brace, but it was the knee cap and not a ligament. So, we'll get him back as quick as we can.''

Otherwise, it was a crisp double-practice Monday after a light Sunday.

"Today was impressive,'' Wannstedt said. "The guys are out of the dorms now and in their apartments. Sunday was a down-tempo day, but we came back early this morning for a double-day in full pads.

"And the guys responded extremely well. We got a lot of done today. It was a good, physical practice, and we got better. So, we want to keep working those basic fundamentals, and those will eventually win games for us.''

Other notes from Monday: Junior TB LaRod Stephens-Howling continues to be impressive. He is stronger and tougher than last season, but doesn't appear to have lost any speed or quickness. ... Fifth-year senior DE Joe Clermond was given the day off, but he should return Tuesday afternoon.

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