The Wright Stuff

When discussing the strongest Pitt football players, names like Robb Houser, Chris Jacobson, Myles Caragein and Dorin Dickerson are often mentioned.

Few would add wideout Aundre Wright to that list, but the 5-foot-10, 170-pound redshirt freshman can bench press 275 pounds. And "it's increasing more and more,'' Wright said after a recent Pittsburgh training camp practice.

"That comes in handy when I have to block somebody,'' Wright added. "Despite my size, I'm not afraid to get in there and block. I'm not selfish at all. I'll do whatever I have to do. They see a little guy and don't expect it, but when I latch on, look out.''

Wright also is the fastest Panthers player and is hopeful that he can make an impact in games this season instead of just on the practice field.

"It's been a while since I played in a game,'' Wright said. "After high school (Pittsburgh Perry Traditional Academy), I went to a prep school (Milford (N.Y.) Academy) and then redshirted as a freshman last year. So, I'm really itching to play this season. I'm working hard, and I hope to get a chance.

"I'm one of the fastest guys out there, and I'm pretty strong. So, I just try to keep working hard to fit in anywhere that I can. It's been a big difference for me, going from the scout team last year to competing for a receiver spot. My eyes are opening so wide, but I'm getting better, getting things down.''

When he got to Pitt, Wright weighed about 150 pounds, so he's definitely added muscle in the past year. His bench press increased some 50 pounds, and that added strength has helped his conditioning.

"I'm getting a lot more reps, and the more I get the more memory I have,'' Wright said. "That's the way it works, so my patterns are improving all the time. I think I have a good chance this season if I keep progressing.''

Wright has been consistent, if anything, during camp. He hasn't made many big plays, but he's caught the ball well hasn't made a lot of mistakes. He's basically competing or the No. 5 wideout spot with fellow redshirt freshman Aaron Smith.

Fifth-year senior Derek Kinder, redshirt juniors Oderick Turner and Cedric McGee and frosh Jonathan Baldwin are the top four. Junior T.J. Porter has been injured the past week or so and could have trouble cracking that group as well.

"Aundre has done pretty well, but he has to keep it up,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Aaron Smith, he's had a good camp, but I would put him in the category of needing to be more consistent on a day-to-day basis. But they were scout team players last year, so ... they're coming along. (And) I think they'll help us win some games.''

Wright certainly should make an impact on special teams. He is among favorites to return kickoffs this season, but not punts. That duty initially goes to junior cornerback Aaron Berry. He also is on the kickoff coverage unit, the second gunner behind freshman Andrew Taglianetti. He doesn't cover punts.

"I'll do whatever I can for the team,'' Wright said. "I was on the scout team last season, and it looked like I could contribute a little bit in the spring. I guess you could say I was on Chapter 1 in the spring, and maybe I'm on Chapter 2 now.

"But I'm getting through a lot quicker now. I made a substantial leap from the spring to now. And I think, by the season, I'll be ready. At least, that's the plan right now. So, I'm working really hard to get there.''

And when discussions about the strongest Panthers occur, don't forget to mention Wright's name as well.

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