Turner Stays Steady

While Pitt freshman wideout Jonathan Baldwin has gotten a lot of publicity so far during training camp practices, and rightfully so for his sometimes spectacular play, redshirt junior Oderick Turner has made a few big plays but mostly has been a steady performer from the opening whistle.

And that's something Turner has lacked during his career. He has been more inconsistent, if anything, but not during this camp. Oderick Turner even outplayed Jonathan Baldwin, Derek Kinder, T.J. Porter and Cedric McGee during the Tuesday morning practice. The trick for Turner will be to continue that success during the afternoon scrimmage and eventually the games.

"Oderick has made some plays for us, there's no doubt about that,'' Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He took advantage of getting a few more reps when Kinder and T.J. weren't out there early on, and it's paid off so far.''

A fifth-year senior, Kinder is attempting to fit into the wideout rotation after missing all of last season due to a right knee injury a year ago in camp, and he sat out a few early practices due to soreness in the knee. Porter, a junior, led the team in receptions with 37 last fall, but he had no touchdowns and also suffered injuries to several toes that forced him to sit out some early sessions.

And Turner has kept on going. He's been ripped for some critical drops last season, deservedly so, but he has been productive. As a redshirt freshman in 2006, Turner tallied 44 catches and eight touchdowns (behind Kinder's 57 for six TDs). He came back with 36 catches and five scores last fall.

"Sure, Oderick has been productive for this football team, but it should not be a surprise that we're more concerned about his consistency,'' Pitt wideouts coach Bryan Bossard said. "That said, Oderick has had a good camp.

"Oderick has made some plays, done all the right things and generally looked pretty good. He got a little more playing time early and stepped up his game. He clearly worked hard in the offseason, and we expect a big year from him.''

Another receiver who has been mostly overlooked as well, but not because he's relatively small in stature, but because Aundre Wright is just a redshirt freshman who previously was not believed to be in the mix. However, he has been a valuable slot receiver for Pitt during camp and most assuredly will contribute somehow in that way and on special teams. He is among the fastest Panthers, and that is evident every day during practice. However, he must work hard on his routes and blocking to remain part of the rotation.

Right now, Pitt's top six wideouts appear to be Kinder, Turner, McGee -- who also has been steady and is a Wannstedt favorite -- Porter, Wright and Baldwin. For now, redshirt freshman Aaron Smith -- who has had some moments, but been inconsistent during camp -- and freshman Cameron Saddler are the odd players out. Freshman Michael Shanahan certainly appears to be destined for a redshirt this season and possibly a move to tight end in the future.

Also during the Tuesday morning practice, quarterback Bill Stull (ribs) did not take any reps in the 11-on-11 drills, and defensive tackle Mick Williams (leg strain) did not finish. Cornerback Buddy Jackson and linebacker Greg Williams were also out. Their status for the scrimmage is uncertain.

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