Depth Chart To Be Settled Soon

While redshirt junior quarterback Bill Stull has taken every snap with the first-team offense since Pitt's training camp began two weeks ago, Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt won't officially name him the starter just yet.

"Technically, we'll finish camp after our scrimmage Wednesday, so once we do that we'll finalize our depth chart at every position,'' Wannstedt said after. "We've had two team-type scrimmages, but in fairness to all the guys we need to have one more. Then, we have the FanFest on Thursday, and ... after that, we'll start talking about the opening game a little bit.''

It would be a huge upset if Bill Stull doesn't open at quarterback when Pittsburgh plays Bowling Green Aug. 30 at noon at Heinz Field. But Stull isn't looking that far ahead.

"I've been taking all the reps with the ones, so I guess I'm the starter,'' Stull said. "Other than that, I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to make myself better and help the team. If that's as the No. 1 QB, then that's great.''

With all due respect to Wannstedt's ideas about competition, there still are several spots on the depth chart up for grabs. At the top of that list is starting right offensive tackle. Frosh Lucas Nix has been at tackle a short time in camp, but he already taking first-team reps and clearly is pushing junior Joe Thomas.

"Joe has been a little inconsistent, so Lucas got some time with the ones,'' Wannstedt said. "We've got to make sure that everybody understands that we have to prove ourselves everyday that we come on this field. It doesn't matter who you are, a freshman or a veteran.''

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Greg Romeus missed both practices Monday, but Wannstedt said it was just for precautionary reasons. Redshirt freshman Tony Tucker stepped up into Romeus' right end spot.

"His hamstring was a little sore and tired, so we rested him today,'' Wannstedt said. "We put him on the bike and got him a lot of work inside.''

Junior wideout T.J. Porter (toes) missed another practice day and likely will have a difficult time getting back on the field. Porter did not appear to be on top of his game from the outset in camp, taking time off here and there. And it could cost him a spot in the wideout rotation.

Fifth-year senior Derek Kinder has been running with the first team along with redshirt junior Oderick Turner. Another redshirt junior, Cedric McGee, has gotten a lot of reps as well as the third wideout. Freshman Jonathan Baldwin is the No. 4 receiver, but he won't be able to stay off the field.

Redshirt freshmen Aundre Wright and Aaron Smith are fighting for that fifth spot. Wright has the edge, I believe, because of his amazing speed. And he's been more consistent overall the past two weeks.

Another player hit hard by time on the sideline is redshirt freshman cornerback Buddy Jackson. Once believed a starter-in-waiting after he won the battle against junior Jovani Chappel, Jackson has had a groin and hamstring problem the past week or so and hasn't contributed much in the scrimmages.

Since his time off, Jackson has been passed by redshirt sophomore Ricky Gary and can't get playing time ahead of freshmen Antwuan Reed, Jarred Holley and Ronald Hobby. That trio, and frosh safety Andrew Taglianetti, have been true surprises in this training camp.

"I would say that Jovani and Aaron Berry have been very steady, but Ricky Gary has had a very good camp,'' Wannstedt said. "He's kind of closed the gap on them, and he's way ahead of where he was last year at this time.

"And he started three games for us. So, I'm very pleased with the way Ricky Gary is playing right now. ... And the three freshmen corners have really made some strides the past week or so.''

There was one position move this week. Fifth-year senior Austin Ransom has switched from wideout to linebacker. He's also been a safety at Pitt and is the top head-hunter on special teams coverage units for the Panthers.

"He's a guy that's smart, as we know, and he's tough guy,'' Wannstedt said. "And he's one of our keys on special teams. So, we're kind of looking him as a nickel-linebacker, kind of like Jemeel Brady was last year.

"In certain situations, he might be able to add something to the defense. He certainly wasn't getting a whole lot of work as a receiver.''

The biggest plays during Monday afternoon's practice were turned in by junior tight end Dorin Dickerson. He lined up in a normal tight end position, in a double-tight set with junior Nate Byham, split out and as a blocking up-back.

Dickerson made a terrific block to open a hole for tailback LaRod Stephens-Howling, and he caught a 20-yard pass from Tino Sunseri. He also caught a pass in the flat and beat linebacker Brandon Lindsey to the outside for a big gain. Maybe all those years at different positions have paid off for Dickerson.

Pitt has just one practice from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday.

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