Pitt Training Camp: The Panthers Begin Camp Amidst High Expectations

Training camp opened today and while there were no major developments, there were several minor roster moves announced by coach Dave Wannstedt:

- DB Aundre Wright and WR/PR Aaron Smith are out for the season due to injury. Itís unknown how long they may be out. Wright played in 24 games over the past two seasons, but made a position switch this Spring to CB, so itís unclear how much he would have contributed anyway. Smith contributed a bit as a punt returner last season, but the Panthers should hopefully be okay at that position with Cam Saddler.

- With several FBs on the roster including redshirt Junior Henry Hynoski, Kevin Adams has moved to LB.

- Incoming freshman RB Andre Givens will not be playing at Pitt this season as heíll be attending prep school. He was a fairly talented back rated as a three-star prospect and recruited by Michigan, Michigan State, Cincinnati, and Wisconsin among others. With Pittís depth at RB, he likely wouldnít have played this season anyway.

Dave Wannstedt opened Pitt's training camp addressing a variety of topics.

Wannstedt of course spoke about the expectations and talked about it being the most exciting preseason during his time at Pitt. There were fairly high hopes in 2005 after Pitt won the conference and was subsequently squashed by Utah in the Fiesta Bowl, but they were nothing like these. Wannstedt did his best to downplay the hype leading up to camp, but that doesn't mean he doesn't think it's an exciting time:

"This is probably the most exciting preseason weíve had for our football team. What is really exciting to me is obviously all the preseason rankings and predictions. While itís exciting, the greatest part of it is how the players have handled all the attention. Different coaches have different philosophies on how much exposure they want to give their players at different ages. Some guys wonít let a freshman or sophomore give an interview. Iíve always looked at each individual situation, but I believe that we have a group of kids that are getting some recognition, and they deserve to enjoy that experience and everything that goes along with it."

He also addressed some minor transfers, individual players, the status of some players graduating, and perhaps most importantly, the interior offensive line:

"We have some issues on our team we need to address, football-wise, right off the bat," Wannstedt said. "In the spring, Jack Lippert moved to center, we had Chris Jacobson working at left guard and Greg Gaskinsworking along with Ryan Turnley at right guard, so there is some good competition going there.

"But I don't think any of us really walked away from the spring and said we are locked in at any one of the three positions, so that is a good thing because it means we will have competition and so we need to get that solidified."

The good news for Pitt is that it has quality tackles in Lucas Nix and one of the Big East's best linemen, Jason Pinkston. But the inside of the line is going to need some work and training camp is just the place for that.

And as was previously covered in our Jabaal Sheard stream, Wannstedt explained his decision not to suspend the DE for any games. Whether you agree with the move or not, having Sheard is a big boost to Pitt's defensive line.

Pitt will need to take full advantage of this training camp to not only get in shape, but get better as a team. The team begins with a tough test right off the bat playing at 24th-ranked Utah in its opener. If the offensive line struggles, it could be a long night and an opening loss could seriously derail momentum built during the offseason.

by Anson Whaley