Pittman Continues To Make Most Of Second Chance
By EJ Holland
Torlan Pittman had the time of his life in 2009 when helped SMU win a bowl game for the first time in 25 years. Pittman had three solo tackles in the 45-10 rout of Nevada and was poised to have a huge impact as a junior the following season.
But then Pittman hit a speed bump in the offseason. He was arrested in January of 2010 and was charged with aggravated sexual assault after an alleged incident at a party. He remained a student at SMU and retained his football scholarship. However, he was not allowed to work out with his teammates and was redshirted for the entire 2010 season.
"I just wanted to be out there so bad. It ended up helping me in the long run though," Pittmnan said. " I got bigger, faster and stronger all over the year. It ended up being a blessing in disguise."
Pitman was forced to wait 17 months before the case was resolved in June of 2011, as he pleaded guilty to reduced charges. Pittman trudged through all the adversity and rejoined his team in time to play in the season opener against Texas A&M.
"Going back home for my first game back was great," said the Bryan, Texas native. "I couldn't explain how great that was. My teammates were so excited to have me back. They knew I could help down low so it was a good overall feeling. I felt I did good in my first season back, but I feel I can always get better."
After all the controversy, Pittman did end up having that impactful junior year that he envisioned. As a nose tackle in SMU's 3-4 scheme, Pittman doesn't always get the glory since his main function is to ‘demand a double' team, allowing inside linebackers Taylor Reed and Cameron Rogers to make plays.
Taking on mammoth offensive linemen demands massive of amounts of physical strength, which is why Pittman is able to succeed in the trenches. Known as of the strongest guys on the team, Pittman benches 485 pounds and can easily put blockers on their backs.
"Being strong helps tremendously. I'm only 285 pounds, and I'm taking on 315-pounders so my strength helps holding them off," Pittman said. "I can shed blocks pretty easily because of that. I definitely work hard in the weight room."
Last season, Pittman recorded 37 tackles including six for loss but only one sack. Defensive coordinator Tom Mason and defensive line coach Bert Hill have been preaching ‘blitz with intensity' throughout fall camp, which has really stuck in Pittman's mind. The 6-foot-1, 285-pounder focused on improving his pass rushing skills during summer workouts and has continued to do so during camp.
"I didn't get to the quarterback much if at all last year so I definitely worked on that. I worked on my footwork and my quickness so I can get to the quarterback a little more." Pittman said. "After running over the summer, I hit the bags and did some footwork drills. Getting some sacks is definitely the goal."
During his time on the Hilltop, Pittman has become accustomed to going to bowls. With a tenacious front seven, he expects nothing less this season.
"Over the past years we've set going to a bowl game as our standard," Pittman said. "That's what we strive for every year because that's the standard we set around here."
Video: RB K.C. Nlemchi talks about his fall camp experience
Barnes Discusses Earning Scholarship, Rehab
The defensive line for the SMU Mustangs is regarded as one of the deeper positions they'll have on the field this year. One player who will prove to be key in their rotation is sophomore Beau Barnes, who is bouncing back from a nagging injury that troubled him throughout the 2011 season.
"It bothered me all last year. I really tore my labrum in the Houston game and that was the final straw," said the 6-foot-5 238-pound defensive end. "The Rice game and the bowl game were really tough to play in. My left arm was almost completely useless."
Barnes was forced to sit out spring practices while rehabbing from shoulder surgery, however, he says the shoulder is getting bigger and stronger now and will be good to go for the start of the season.
One of the highlights of Barnes' summer has been receiving a football scholarship, which he says he's earned with ‘hard work.'
Ever since I got here, that's what they've told me, if I worked hard enough (I could earn a scholarship), and I've tried to do that every single day," Barnes said. "It paid off so I'm excited about it."
Barnes, who will be on the second rotation of defensive lineman in 2012, says he feels it's important to get consistent pressure from the defensive line and thinks SMU has the athletes to do it. Barnes expects his teammate, Margus Hunt, to have a special season and says he's watched him improve every year.
"I've watched him for a few years now and every year he's just gotten better," Barnes said. "Everyone knows how much of a great athlete he is but now, I feel like he's really figuring out the actual football part of the game. Once he gets that down, he can be one of the best in the country I think. He's going to be really fun to watch this year."
Barnes added that he plans to contribute primarily through making sacks but a big part of his game will be focusing on causing turnovers, which has been a common topic of emphasis among SMU defensive players this camp. Barnes says that although SMU's out of conference schedule might be tough, he's confident that they can compete and win.
"We've got Baylor who had a great season last year, but we don't look at those guys like they're out of conference giants. I think we've got plenty of talent to play with those guys," Barnes said. "I don't think there will be any kind of trouble hanging with those guys."
Day 8 Observations:
- Today was the first day of camp the team practiced in pants
- Darius Johnson did not practice due to wrist injury he suffered on Saturday. Johnson says it's just a sprain.
- Neal Burcham still practiced with a sleeve today but took it off when the team began 7-on-7 drills
- Stephen Nelson, Christian Chamagua, Taylor Reich and Jordan Free continue to run and rehab from injuries during practice
- James Richardson made a play on the ball in defensive drills today and got up gimpy. Coach Tom Mason sent him to the trainer, and he never returned for scrimmages. The injury looked to be his left leg
- Greyshirt freshman Ty Law wore a No. 84 jersey as he observed practice
-Chase Hover went 9 for 11 on field goals today. Both misses were from long range.
- Jordan Favreau and freshman Seaver Myers worked wit the first team offensive line today as Stavion Lowe continues to struggle
- Quote of the Day: Randall Joyner played QB in defensive drills today and threw a very nice ball across the middle of the field. Afterwards he said, "Don't let me get warmed up now!"
- Kenneth Acker got burned deep by Jeremy Johnson in the second play of 11-on-11's today. Johnson caught a perfect ball from Garrett Gilbert.
- Gilbert looked very comfortable running the offense today. Poised and accurate
- Gilbert and Preston both completed passes to Fuller during 11-on-11's. Both passes came out of the "Pistol" formation
- Drops were a problem again today in practice
- Keenan Holman and Der'rikk Thompson were both wide open deep down the field and were thrown perfect passes that hit them in the hands and were dropped. After Holman's drop Coach JasonPhillips jumped on him by saying "Totally unacceptable. You have to make plays. You were wide open."
- Hayden Greenbauer made the play of the day. A pass was deflected his way while he was falling to the ground. The ball fell between his legs and he instinctively flipped the ball up to his hands for a heads up interception.
- Garret Krstich hasn't looked to good in practice the last couple of days. He's holding on to the ball longer than he should. Not pulling the trigger on his check down like Preston and Gilbert
- Jarvis Pruitt laid out Kyle Guinyard at the line of scrimmage today getting a great deal of praise from the defense on the sideline. Randall Joyner yelled out "That's my roommate!"
- Ja'Gared Davis came in like a rocket off the edge and hit Rishaad Wimbley in the backfield for a tackle for loss during 11-on-11's
- Gilbert is really establishing a rapport with Jeremy Johnson. With Darius Johnson out today, Jeremy was Gilbert's primary target. Gilbert threw some very nice passes to him and their timing is continuing to get better
- Darius Joseph bobbled a ball and was smacked by Kevin Pope. Needless to say, he dropped the ball
- Defense tried to mimic crowd noise today during the later part of the 11-on-11's, but Gilbert still looked poised
SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 8
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