Redshirt Frosh Gibbs Gets Nod At LT

There aren't too many big-time college football programs that start a freshman at left offensive tackle, but Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said Monday that the Panthers are going to do just that this season.

Jordan Gibbs, listed as a 6-foot-7, 290-pound redshirt freshman, will begin training camp practices Tuesday as the starting left offensive tackle for Pittsburgh. The backups there are classmate Greg Gaskins (6-4, 295) and fifth-year senior Chase Clowser (6-7, 330).

"You can only go with what you have, but the thing about this situation is that Jordan took every single snap at left tackle during the spring,'' Wise said. "And he was going against some quality guys that can run like Greg Romeus, Tony Tucker and Mick Williams. That's not chopped liver. So, he was tested.

"And he'll be tested during camp. So, he has good size and strength and can move well, and after going against these guys in camp he'll be as ready as he can be after blocking against these tough guys who can run. He's older, more mature, and he's had a very good offseason. So, he'll be ready to go.''

Junior Joe Thomas (6-5, 300) and redshirt sophomore Jason Pinkston (6-4, 300) will battle at right tackle. Freshman recruit Lucas Nix, Wannstedt said, will back up senior C.J. Davis at left guard, while redshirt frosh Chris Jacobson will back up junior John Malecki at right guard. And junior Robb Houser is the starting center.

"Robb Houser, we're real excited about him,'' Wannstedt said. "So, with he and C.J. and Malecki ... our middle guys are very solid. And we have a lot of talent at tackle, but we have to work out our starters there. Those spots are up for grabs. Lumpy is healthy now, and he gives us depth.

"So, it's Gibbs and Chase at left tackle with (Gaskins), and Pinkston and Joe Thomas at right tackle. That gives us some good guys to pick from. And they all look good. So, we're going to (start) the best two guys at tackle.''

With Pinkston rehabilitating his injured shoulder after surgery last fall, Gibbs took every snap with the first team at left tackle.

"It was a big of a change for me coming in here, but I'm slowly adapting as best as I can,'' Gibbs said. "I was thankful for the opportunity to get a lot of reps during the spring at left tackle, and we'll see what I can do in camp.

"I still have a lot to work on from the spring, but only playing left tackle should pay off for me. It's a great opportunity for me against some great defensive players, and that really has prepared me. It was a real good experience, me ready for camp. I just have to take advantage of this opportunity.

"I was a little nervous when they first told me about it during the spring,'' Gibbs added, "because it was a different speed. But it's going to be a different speed now in camp, especially when we scrimmage, and in the game as well. But I'm looking forward to the challenge.''

And the results will go a long way toward determining the success of Pitt's offensive line this fall, but Pinkston and his linemates have faith that Gibbs can play well.

"Gibbs, we call him the Undertaker, but we all have confidence that he can get the job done,'' Pinkston said. "And we have a lot of confidence in ourselves that we'll do the job.''

If that transforms to a strong performance on the field, everyone else will feel the same way.

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