Most of that improvement has come this spring for the fifth-year senior wide receiver originally recruited as a quarterback for Pittsburgh.
Greg Cross was recognized for that improvement as the 2010 Ed Conway Award winner on offense. The honor is given to the most-improved player during spring workouts. Junior cornerback Antwuan Reed received the defensive award.
"Consistently, day after day, Greg did something that gave us the feeling that he was working hard to get better,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It wasn't just one scrimmage that he made some plays. He was in early watching film and just doing it on a consistent basis on and off the field.''
Cross basically was recruited to run the Wildcat offense at Pitt and didn't foresee making a change from quarterback to wide receiver, but he has not
just accepted the challenge he has embraced it.
"I worked really hard with my teammates and also my coaches watching film and practicing my technique,'' Cross said. "Knowing that I had never played receiver before, I had to put in a lot more time and effort into doing a lot of
different things since it wasn't just a natural flow.
"There was a lot of things I really had to work on as far as my stance and coming off the ball and being physical, but that is where my athleticism came into play.''
And it was that athleticism and power, at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, that caught Pitt's recruiting eye.
In the spring game Saturday, Cross ran a reverse on the opening play for the second team and fired a pass downfield. Even though it was incomplete, it certainly could be a harbinger for things to come. He also did that in last Saturday's scrimmage and fired a 65-yard touchdown pass.
"Greg has a lot of talent, and he has put extra time in," Wannstedt said. "Every time I saw Greg he was up there watching extra tape. He did the little things in addition to what was going on during practices on the field.''
Cross has come a long way. In the third game of the 2008 season, Cross' first play at the Division I-A level, went 17 yards for a touchdown on a quarterback draw. But not all the memories from that season are pleasant. Unfortunately, he also played in Game 5 at South Florida and fumbled the snap in the Wildcat.
Cross an four times for 15 yards overall that season and didn't play again
during the remaining games. He was redshirted last year to make the transition to wideout.
The past is just that, and Cross has no intension of repeating it. He had a solid spring caught two passes for 80 yards in the two scrimmages, including a 65-yard touchdown reception. He also took a toss on a reverse and threw a 65-yard scoring pass. Plays like that are what earned him the Conway Award.
"Getting the award was OK,'' Cross said. "But I'm very humble. It just motivates me even more. I am much more motivated. I'm hungry to continue what I've done. I'm never satisfied. My teammates put that drive in me to always want to go out and make plays to help the team in any way possible.''
And after a successful transition to wideout, Cross finally should be able to help the Panthers on offense.
Cross Receives Conway Award
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