Baldwin, Lewis Are Pitt Playmakers

The Pitt football team lost its top offensive performer when sophomore LeSean McCoy broke loose for the NFL after last season, but the Panthers should be well-stocked for the future.

Freshman tailback Dion Lewis, who enrolled at Pittsburgh in January, and sophomore wideout Jonathan Baldwin are among those who have the talent to be big-play performers for the Panthers.

"I want to get to the point when I can just go out there and play and not have to think about everything I'm going to do,'' Lewis said. "So, I'll keep watching film and keep studying my playbook, and I'll get there. I also need to hit the weight room a lot harder this summer and get bigger and stronger, maybe even a little quicker, and all that should help me be a better player.

"The pieces are there, I'm sure of that. We have some talent on offense, but don't forget we didn't show much in this game. And we're going against a defense that's going to be among the best in the country this year. There's no doubt about that, and going against them helps us get better.

"With guys like Baldwin, Chris Burns, Dorin Dickerson and some guys who didn't even play in the spring game, we have a lot of guys on offense who should be big-time playmakers for us this year,'' Lewis added. "I just hope I can be one of them. I'm going to keep working hard to make sure of that.''

Lewis ran for just 34 yards on 12 attempts with a long run for nine yards. However, he has been running with the first team more often than not the final three weeks this spring and was the starting tailback in all three scrimmages.

"I've been in there with the first team the last couple weeks or so, and that's been a dream for me to come in here and make an impact,'' Lewis said. "But I might not be there all the time, because we've got a lot of good backs. So, I wanted to make the most of it this spring and in this game.

"I didn't have the best game, but I think I've had a pretty good spring. And it means a lot that they thought enough of me to put me in there with the first team so often. But I'm not going to let that get to my head. I have to keep working hard to stay there. So, that's what I'm going to do.''

Baldwin caught five passes for 75 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown toss from fifth-year senior quarterback Bill Stull. It was the only touchdown in the game. Baldwin had 18 catches for 404 yards (22.4 per catch) and three touchdowns, including a 60-yarder. But he struggled with his route-running and blocking, but that has improved considerably this spring.

"Everybody is still learning,'' Baldwin said. "It's the spring, and we have a new offensive coordinator (Frank Cignetti). (But) I'm a lot more comfortable in the offense. I had limited playing time last year, and I know there are higher expectations of me this year. But I have higher expectations for myself this year, too.''

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt praised both Baldwin and Lewis on offense.

"Dion Lewis made some plays in the running game, but we didn't run the ball too well overall,'' Wannstedt said. "(And) our receivers, Jonathan Baldwin and Cedric McGee ... and Dorin Dickerson, I thought they made some plays when they had opportunities. But the opportunities just weren't there very often.''

Wannstedt noted that backup center Alex Karabin suffered a knee sprain that forced him out of the game, so senior John Malecki had to play every snap. Malecki, the starting right offensive guard, took every rep with the first-team offense and then took over for starter Robb Houser at center when the second team came in. Redshirt sophomore Wayne Jones was suspended for the final week in the spring, so he wasn't available as a backup center.

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