Dickerson Steps Up

Not only has Dorin Dickerson finally found a home at tight end for the Pitt football program, but it appears that the 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior has played well enough during training camp to get noticed by the coaching staff.

Dorin Dickerson, who moved to his third offensive position this past spring after spending the previous year as an outside linebacker, took every repetition with the Panthers' first-team offense at tight end. Junior Nate Byham, who has a slight right shoulder strain, worked with the second team.

"When I look at our tight ends, Dorin has had a great camp, and John Pelusi has been injured,'' Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We know that Nate Byham is the starter, but I look at Dorin and Pelusi as being starters, too. They're all going to play, and they'll all have their roles.

"But Dorin's getting better. (And) those guys are beat up, because they're going against (Greg) Romeus and those defensive linemen every day, and it's a war. So, I've been impressed with the toughness of our tight ends. (But) we wanted to get Dorin some extra work today. ... He's been playing like a starter.''

Dickerson and Byham occasionally have been in the lineup together during camp, although Pitt mostly goes with a single back, one tight end and three wideouts. However, when together, one is tight and the other is an H-back, but both have split out as well to take advantage of their size, athleticism and pass-catching ability. It makes for an interesting offensive set nonetheless.

"I just want to get on the field,'' Dickerson said earlier in camp. "Whatever they need me to do, block, catch passes, run with the ball. After what I went through my first two years, I finally feel comfortable and can't wait to get on the field.''

Dickerson and some others have a chance to shine during Pitt's second intrasquad scrimmage Saturday from 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on the outdoor artificial turf. This is the scrimmage where some positions can be won, although the starting groups likely are set on offense and defense, but more importantly the depth chart can be shored up from backups on down the list.

Wannstedt noted that while tailback LeSean McCoy, middle linebacker Scott McKillop and defensive end Greg Romeus are likely to be held to 15 plays, the remaining players who will be involved will get about 30 snaps each with the scrimmage lasting some 75-100 plays overall.

"I would hope that on the offensive line, some things will get cleared up (during the scrimmage), hopefully,'' Wannstedt said. "From a backup linebacker spot, Nate Nix has had a very good camp. But we've got some good competition there because the whole group really has been inconsistent. ... So, our backup linebackers, that's a position we're trying to clean up a bit.

"And on our defensive line, we can only play so many guys. We know the top 4-5 guys, but guys are competing to be that sixth, seventh or eighth man. The third corner spot is in competition, and the fourth safety spot where Taglianetti has an opportunity. The fourth corner spot between Jarred Holley, Ronald Hobby and Antwuan Reed, we've got some good competition going.''

The backup offensive line has redshirt freshman Jordan Gibbs and frosh Lucas Nix at the left and right tackle spots, respectively, while redshirt sophomore Alex Karabin is the No. 2 center. The backup guards have been fifth-year senior Dom Williams on the left side -- where he filled in for fourth-year starter C.J. Davis Friday -- and redshirt freshman Chris Jacobson. Fifth-year senior Chase Clowser (tackle), redshirt junior John Bachman (guard-tackle), and redshirt freshmen John Fieger (guard), Wayne Jones (center) and Greg Gaskins (tackle) are fighting for backup roles on the O-line.

Nix has had his moments this camp, but so have redshirt freshmen Max Gruder, Brandon Lindsey, Tristan Roberts and Brandon Lindsey in backup linebacker roles. On the defensive line, Redshirt sophomore Tyler Tkach and redshirt freshmen Chas Alecxih, Tony Tucker and Justin Hargrove are battling for time at end, while redshirt freshman Myles Caragein and redshirt junior Craig Bokor are pushing for reps at the guard spots.

Redshirt sophomore Ricky Gary is ahead of redshirt freshman Buddy Jackson for the third cornerback spot, primarily because Jackson (hamstring, groin) hasn't been able to get on the field. The three freshmen are pushing them as well. And the fourth safety, behind Eric Thatcher, Dom DeCicco and Elijah Fields, could be freshman Andrew Taglianetti, as redshirt junior Irvan Brown (hamstring) has been out and Michael Toerper is a walk-on.

In anticipation of the second scrimmage, Wannstedt took it easy on the Panthers Friday, as practice was cut short about 30 minutes.

"We backed off the guys a little bit today with the scrimmage tomorrow and two real physical practices Thursday,'' Wannstedt said. "We went in shoulder pads and shorts and did a lot of two-minute and red-zone work, which is very important if you can get it done without full pads on and tackling. So, it was a very productive day, and the guys did a nice job.''

Wannstedt believed that all injured players had a chance to participate in the scrimmage after taking several days off this week.

"All the guys who were limping around out here today ... we don't have anybody who's seriously hurt,'' Wannstedt said. "They're all going to make an attempt to play tomorrow.''

Wideouts Cedric McGee (ankle) and T.J. Porter (toes), Jackson, Pelusi (shoulder) and tailback Kevin Collier (leg) missed practice Friday. Senior LaRod Stephens-Howling has not gotten many reps at tailback, to give freshmen Shariff Harris and Chris Burns a shot, but he will play some as well, Wannstedt noted.

The top three quarterbacks had a rough start to Friday's practice, but each one settled down a bit toward the end. Bill Stull made several nice throws in the red-zone drill, including drilling a pass down the middle to Dickerson for a first-and-goal. Pat Bostick had two touchdown passes, one to Dickerson and another that redshirt fullback Henry Hynoski snagged. Kevan Smith also made some good throws and benefitted from Derek Kinder's good hands on two occasions.

Kinder appears to be more comfortable now, running patterns, cutting and making contact with the defenders. He and redshirt junior Oderick Turner were joined by redshirt freshman Aundre Wright in the slot when Pitt went to three wideouts Friday. Frosh Jonathan Baldwin, the fourth receiver, had a rough day battling double teams and poor passes in his direction.

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