Spring Preview – Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

The Panthers return All-Big East sophomore Larry Fitzgerald (6-3/210) to lead the receiving unit this spring. Larry was spectacular as a true freshman last year, earning Freshman All-American honors and breaking just about every Pitt receiving record for a freshman. Larry finished the season with 69 catches for 1,005 yards and 12 TD's.

Pitt will need to find a replacement for Lamar Slade, who started opposite of Fitzgerald. Lamar was a solid receiver last season who came up with many big catches to move the chains. The leading candidate to replace Lamar is JUCO transfer Princell Brockenbrough. Princell (6-3/200) was considered the #1 JUCO receiver in the country per many recruiting publications a year ago. He spent the early part of last season rehabbing a knee injury, but by mid-season he was turning coaches' heads with his performances in practice. Others looking to win the 3rd wide receiver position include sophomore Joe Stephens (6-0/190), sophomore Billy Gaines (5-7/175), and senior Yogi Roth (5-10/195). The Panthers will have some talented prospects coming in the fall, but all eyes will be on these receivers this spring to see what they can do.

Senior Kris Wilson (6-3/240) returns as the starting tight end. Kris will be among the top tight ends in the conference, if not the country. He has excellent hands and has improved his blocking. Kris made 18 catches for 389 yards and 2 TD's last season, with an impressive 21.6 yards per catch average. Sophomore Erik Gill (6-5/255) will be the backup once again. Erik saw action in all 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman. Erik possesses excellent hands and is also a strong blocker. He could see much more playing time this season with the overall uncertainty at receiver. Another tight end that could see some playing time is redshirt freshman Steve Buches (6-3/230). Steve has excellent hands and was named a High School All-American by recruiting guru Max Emfinger. If some of the WR's do not step up, I wouldn't be surprised to see Steve lining up in the slot. He has similar size and athletic ability as Lamar Slade.

With the depth and talent at tight end, the receiving unit has a chance to be very strong once again if Brockenbrough and Stephens play up to their potential. Obviously, a key to the season will be a healthy Larry Fitzgerald. He can beat anyone one-on-one and may be the best wide receiver in the country this season.

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