Pitt Practice Report Two

After two days with no real hitting and limited action, the Pitt football team -- and those watching practices -- can't wait for Friday's first one with pads.

There probably still won't be a lot of hitting, but the 11-on-11 team drills certainly should have a little more pop than Tuesday's and Thursday's workouts. Not that there weren't a few exciting plays.

The Pittsburgh secondary had a rough time with the wideouts Thursday, especially on out patterns, as Oderick Turner, T.J. Porter, Cedric McGee and Aundre Wright took turns dazzling the defense.

In the 7-on-7 drills, Wright just tortured walk-on Mike Toerper and former walk-on Austin Ransom. Last season, when Wright was used to mimic West Virginia's speedy skill players, he was said to be the fastest Pitt player. He didn't do anything to change that moniker so far this spring.

Wright, Turner, Porter, McGee and even Aaron Smith took turns catching passes from quarterbacks Bill Stull and Pat Bostick, who displayed stronger arms on out patters than they did last season. Kevan Smith and Greg Cross were not as efficient, but still had some success.

But that doesn't mean Coach Phil Bennett's defense didn't make plays. There were quite a few. Ricky Gary had two interceptions from his cornerback spot, as he got additional reps while Aaron Berry nursed a sore thumb. Berry had offseason surgery on his left thumb and has it heavily wrapped.

And freshman Ronald Hobby also picked off a weak toss from Cross on an out and blazed down the sideline with the return. Hobby is in his first season, but able to graduate early from high school and enroll at Pitt in January to be eligible for spring practice.

While sophomore defensive end Jabaal Sheard quickly returned several pass attempts back to the backfield Tuesday, redshirt sophomore Greg Romeus and redshirt freshman Justin Hargrove did their best volleyball imitations Thursday. The trio, along with tackles Mick Williams and Rashaad Duncan, pressured Pitt's quarterbacks throughout the afternoon and probably caused several exchange problems between the centers and the quarterbacks.

"We're going to rotate quarterbacks with centers, and everyone will interchange,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It won't be easy to do, but it's a game-like situation. So, they'll all have to go in and be able to function.''

Redshirt junior defensive end Doug Fulmer probably didn't stand out as much Thursday as his peers at the end positions, but he certainly got Wannstedt's attention in the initial workout.

There was a play where Fulmer was rushing around the edge, Wannstedt noted, and another player was knocked down. But instead of getting caught in the pileup, Fulmer deftly avoided it and got into the backfield.

"It was a real test to where he's at physically to pick up his leg and get out of the way so he could avoid being hurt,'' Wannstedt said prior to Thursday's workout. "He had a good practice (Tuesday). That's an example of a guy who hasn't done much the past couple years.

"He missed half his first year (as a starter in 2006), comes out for the spring and gets hurt in the first week and misses the entire (2007). So, in two years, he's probably had a uniform on maybe a third of the time at the most. So, it's good to have him back, but he needs a lot of work.''

When also discussing the Pitt quarterbacks, Wannstedt admitted that no matter who starts at the position, Cross likely will play extensively in special packages like the Wildcat or other run-oriented situations.

"That's what we're looking at, and obviously (Cross) has to produce when he gets an opportunity,'' Wannstedt said. "But we're looking at trying to utilize all the guys that we have, and there's some things he can do that the other guys can't. And vice-versa.''

Notes: The Panthers have been working out a new holder, since Lucas Stone gave up his final season of eligibility. ... Redshirt freshman walk-on quarterback Andrew Janocko is he front-runner, while punter Dave Brytus -- the backup last year -- and quarterback Pat Bostick are other options. ... Redshirt freshman Greg Williams, who moved from running back to defense this spring, already has switched from free safety to outside linebacker. ... "He was a safety for half a practice,'' Wannstedt said, "until I got his weight (230 pounds).''

Panther More Top Stories