Caragein Patiently Waits His Turn

There likely are many places where Myles Caragein would have no problem starting at defensive tackle, but on the Pitt football team the redshirt freshman has four talented upperclassmen ahead of him.

Head coach Dave Wannstedt and defensive line coach Greg Gattuso like to rotate linemen in and out of games to keep them fresh, and at Pittsburgh that means senior Rashaad Duncan and redshirt junior Mick Williams start at the tackle spots. Junior Tommie Duhart and redshirt junior Gus Mustakas, a former starter enter games with the second group.

Myles Caragein and redshirt junior Craig Bokor follow them.

"We've got four real good tackles, but I feel like we have six good ones with Myles and Bokor,'' Gattuso said. "They might have had better camps than any of them. It's a luxury that's very rare, so if there's a chance to get Myles some snaps we'll get him in there.

"There's no doubt about that. He's earned it. I trust him, and he knows that. He's very smart and very hard-working. He's an explosive athlete who's only been a tackle for a little over a year. So, he's still learning.''

Caragein is a former scholastic wrestler for Keystone Oaks High School in suburban Pittsburgh, so he adept at the hand-to-hand combat needed to play on the defensive line. He also worked at end some last year, but just one day during camp. And Gattuso said he'd rather not use him there.

"We have some other options if we need do, but I'd rather him focus on playing tackle and the nose,'' Gattuso said, "and he's very comfortable playing both interior spots. ... Myles had a very good camp. He's very powerful when he keeps his body low. He's a strong kid, and he's learning how to play.

"This is going to be a big year for him. He's a little further ahead than I probably thought, but he's athletic and tough and is playing well. He has all the qualities that we're looking for in a defensive tackle.''

Through it all, it doesn't appear that Caragein has gotten discouraged. Several times, he even said that he viewed his situation as a positive experience, one where he could learn from watching the more veteran players.

"I just have to keep working hard to show the coaches that I can play, and I have to take advantage of the situation when they put me in there,'' Caragein said. "So, I just have to keep working hard. I can't slack off at all. I'll get my chances, and it's not too bad. I get to work with guys who are real good, and they have game experience.

"So, I have a good attitude about it. I know I have a good future here at Pitt, and I'm looking forward to every chance I get. I really worked on my strength, and I increased that as well as my footwork and hand work. So, I'm a lot better than I was last year.''

Caragein also increased his weight to 275 pounds, up from "maybe 250'' when he arrived at Pitt a little more than a year ago. So, he's bigger and stronger and might even be a little quicker since he's more comfortable playing inside.

"I feel good at this weight,'' Caragein said. "I move pretty well, and I'm ready to go. Last year was a learning experience for me, so this year it's time to get going. I think I had a pretty good camp, and now I'm ready to go. Everybody sets goals, but I guess you could say that I'm just working hard to get there.

"There's four good guys playing ahead of me, but I don't see it as a downside. I look at it as a good thing, because I can watch them and see what they do well. I can put that into my playbook and try to make it work for me. Our D-line is real tough, and we have little competitions against each other. It's been a lot of fun, and I think it's made us all a lot better during camp.''

And with a player like Caragein on the third team, that's why the Pitt defensive line has to be among the deepest and most-talented in the nation.

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