Pinkston Starting At RT

After all the hoopla surrounding the offensive line going into camp and during media day when Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt announced that redshirt freshman Jordan Gibbs would be the left tackle and junior Joe Thomas was ahead of redshirt sophomore Jason Pinkston for the right-side battle.

When the first-team Pittsburgh offense took the field for the morning practice session Tuesday, moved to the indoor field after heavy showers, Jordan Gibbs opened on the left side as expected. However, Jason Pinkston was the right tackle. The other spots were also as expected with Robb Houser at center, C.J. Davis at left guard and John Malecki on the right side.

"Anywhere on the field is all right with me,'' Pinkston said, "but I'm ready to go again at right tackle. I'll even play fullback if necessary.''

Some might remember Pinkston's mostly forgettable performance as a fullback in the "Jumbo'' goal-line set against Syracuse. Pinkston practiced that play all week, but it's not likely to happen again anytime soon.

"They scrapped that now, for sure,'' Pinkston said. "I missed my block.''

After what happened last season, when he started the first three games, but injured his shoulder at Michigan State and was out for the season, Pinkston doesn't want to let this opportunity pass him by.

"I want to start, but I know that we have a lot of talent on this offensive line,'' Pinkston said. "So, you can't slack off or somebody will step right in for you.''

There were 10 offensive linemen in the morning. Along with the five starters -- Gibbs, Davis, Houser, Malecki and Pinkston -- were fifth-year seniors Chase Clowser and Frank Kochin at tackle, redshirt sophomore Jared Martin at center, with redshirt freshman Chris Jacobson and freshman Lucas Nix at guard.

Offensive line coach Tony Wise did extensive teaching during the morning. During one sequence, Wise yelled several times to "Line 'em up a gain.'' But after a solid effort, especially in the run-blocking drills, he was complimentary as well.

Sophomore tailback LeSean McCoy spent the early part of practice working with running backs coach David Walker, working on some handoffs and ball security, and he just looked quicker and more powerful than last season. McCoy claims to be a lot stronger, and he clearly is in great shape. But quicker?

Those who didn't believe him just needed to watch Tuesday's 7-on-7 session. even though it was a non-contact drill, McCoy was spectacular. On one play, he got into the open field, as freshman linebacker Manny Williams approached. Williams was a big hitter at Clairton High School and certainly was a solid tackler, but McCoy gave him the Shady Shake. Williams whiffed, and McCoy shifted gears as he cruised downfield.

Generally, there is a lot of individual position work, conditioning and special teams in these early practices, while the Panthers are running with a split squad the first four days, freshman place-kicker Kevin Harper displayed his leg strength with some booming field goals that ricocheted off the back wall after sailing high through the uprights.

The cornerbacks in the morning were starters Aaron Berry and Jovani Chappel, but freshmen Ronald Hobby, who enrolled in January, and Jarred Holley were also involved. Holley even had an interception on a deep pass in the end zone by quarterback Tino Sunseri. Holley made several good plays to draw praises from defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and secondary coach Jeff Hafley.

The safeties were starters Dom DeCicco and Eric Thatcher, as well as freshman Andrew Taglianetti. redshirt freshman Greg Williams joined the starting linebackers, Shane Murray, Adam Gunn and Scott McKillop.

Safety Elijah Fields will be in the afternoon practice, and so will speedsters Cameron Saddler and Aundre Wright. Derek Kinder, Oderick Turner and T.J. Porter were the veteran wideouts in the morning with Austin Ransom.

Interestingly enough, Fields came to an afternoon interview with a Thomas Jefferson High School T-shirt and Gateway shorts. The former Duequesne star noted that Dom and Cam take care of him, referring to DeCicco and Saddler.

Starting quarterback Bill Stull and junior Greg Cross were joined by Sunseri in the morning, which means that Pat Bostick and Kevan Smith are in the afternoon with Andrew Janocko. The tight ends were Nate Byham and John Pelusi, who Dorin Dickerson in in the afternoon.

Former Panthers tight end Steve Buches was in attendance. He is attending graduate school at Pitt to get a degree in teaching and is doing an internship at Shaler High School. Buches graduated from Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

The defensive linemen were Gus Mustakas, Rashaad Duncan, Mick Williams and Tommie Duhart at the tackle spots, while Doug Fulmer, Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard were the ends.

The afternoon practice runs from 3-5:30 p.m.

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