Pitt OL Far From Finalized

Since he returned to his alma mater, Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt has said that the five best offensive linemen will play for the Panthers, and this year is no different.

Some believe that those players for Pittsburgh include redshirt junior Jason Pinkston, redshirt sophomore Chris Jacobson, sophomore Lucas Nix and seniors Joe Thomas and John Malecki. Where they play is another story.

The emergence of redshirt junior walk-on center Alex Karabin, who has split time with senior Robb Houser with the first team, as well as Nix supplanting incumbent starter Thomas at right guard and Malecki working a bit before practice snapping with the centers and quarterbacks gives some credence to the talk about the Panthers' offensive line.

Wannstedt discussed the situation a bit Tuesday.

"A guy that probably should be recognized is Alex Karabin,'' Wannstedt said. "He played at Greensburg Central Catholic, and he walked on here. He was on our field-goal protection team a year ago and was our backup center a year ago. And he really didn't get an opportunity to play much.

"But he's having a very good spring. As far as moving guys to the center position, I don't think we're to that point right now. (But) if Lucas keeps coming on, the guy we have to look at to see if he fits in as one of the five best (offensive linemen) is Joe Thomas.

"(Thomas) has played (and started at both) guard and tackle, and he could play any of the spots on the line except center,'' Wannstedt added. "So, he's the guy, as we sit back and evaluate Pinkston, Jacobson and Nix, Joe gives us some flexibility due to his experience.''

So, if these eventually are Pitt's top five offensive linemen, the starters would include Pinkston at left tackle, Jacobson at left guard, Malecki at center, Thomas at right guard and Nix at right tackle.

"We've got some good, healthy competition at some spots, and I don't think that has happened because the guys starting have not performed up to their expectations,'' Wannstedt said. He also used the cornerbacks as an example.

Sophomore Antwuan Reed, redshirt sophomore Buddy Jackson and redshirt freshman Jarred Holley are pushing the top three of Aaron Berry, Jovani Chappel and Ricky Gary for playing time.

"The (top three) were playing well, but the exciting thing is that the (others) have really stepped up,'' Wannstedt said. "So, there's some reason for optimism and excitement.''

Wannstedt also evaluated the quarterbacks -- Bill Stull, Pat Bostick and Tino Sunseri -- more closely after watching tape from the second scrimmage.

"Our completion percentage was about 65 percent (overall), and I liked that,'' Wannstedt said. "I think by having the quarterbacks live it brings a dimension to the scrimmage that has to be there from a pass-rush standpoint and a quarterback-play standpoint, and I thought the quarterbacks handled that well.

"We had an opportunity to make some big plays in the passing game during the scrimmage, and we didn't connect, for whatever reason. But, overall, I thought it was a good, solid scrimmage, and we did some good things on both sides of the ball. (And) we had the one turnover.

"So, we're taking good care of the ball overall,'' Wannstedt added. "We've had a minimum number of penalties. We're giving good effort. So, if we can continue to do those three things and be a physical team, I think we'll like the results in the end.''

Wannstedt noted that redshirt sophomore fullback Henry Hynoski (turf toe) is still out, but expected to be ready to play in the spring game.

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