The Panthers usually name the Ed Conway Award winners during the annual Blue Gold scrimmage. Their was no spring-ending scrimmage this season, so no announcement was made on who the coaches felt were the most-improved players during spring camp.
The award was started in 1975 and named after former Pitt radio announcer Ed Conway, who passed away in 1974.
Pitt head coach Paul Chryst said after the last spring practice on April 15 that he would announce the winners later. On Wednesday, he named the award winners and commented on each one during the ACC post-spring football coach's teleconference.
Redshirt senior right tackle T.J. Clemmings was the offensive winner, redshirt senior defensive end David Durham was the defensive award winner, and redshirt senior linebacker Todd Thomas was the rare special teams winner.
Clemmings also won the award last year. It was only the second time for a repeat winner—the first being another offensive lineman, Mike McGlynn, who won in 2004 and 2005. Also, Thomas is only the second special teams award winner—the first was Kennard Cox in 2006.
Chryst complimented each player for their work ethic and leadership demonstrated during the spring camp.
"All three had a great spring. They sent a message to everyone with the commitment and approach we need," Chryst said. "All three are very-well deserved."
Clemmings arrived at Pitt as a defensive end four years ago but never found any rhythm. The Panthers also lacked big, athletic bodies on the offensive line at the time, so Clemmings was moved to the offensive line before last season to provide depth and competition, where he seemed to find his niche.
"[T.J.] Clemmings is an athletic, gifted player. We like his approach and his work ethic. He had a great spring after gaining familiarity with the [right tackle] position last year," Chryst said. "He did a ton of work in the off season, he became confident in his knowledge, and is now playing without thinking as much."
Durham is probably undersized at the rush end position but what he lacks in size, he makes up in hustle. Chryst felt that hustle paid off this spring.
"Durham played on offense, on defense, he did everything he could to help us. His motor doesn't stop," Chryst said. "He settled into his position last year, he's been doing everything he could to have his best senior year possible."
Chryst pointed out that the team wanted to put an emphasis on special teams this spring and felt Thomas rose to that occasion and deserved to be recognized for his efforts.
"We knew we had to get better on special teams. We wanted to recognize someone. We loved the way [Thomas] approached it. He earned [the award] on all fronts," Chryst said. "[Todd] Thomas championed everything on special teams. He did a lot of good stuff and sent the right message that everyone has to be all in."