Pitt opened its 2014 fall football camp on a picture-perfect Monday at the team's UPMC South Side Practice Facility. Due to NCAA regulations, the team wore helmets only. Shoulder pads will be added mid-week and full pads will be added toward the end of the week. Third-year head coach Paul Chryst was excited to get back on the field.
"It's great to be out here with this group. It looked and felt like day one. It's certainly a starting point but we have a long way to go," Chryst said. "We can see the work the guys put in over the summer. I liked the way the guys reported in and the shape they're in as a whole."
The camp definitely seemed crisper and faster overall compared to the last two years. Not only are the players more experienced, but head coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph are in their third year, and defensive coordinator Matt House is in his second year, so there is more continuity across both sides of the ball.
Chryst is also the quarterbacks coach, He did not say as much, but redshirt sophomore quarterback Chad Voytik is the projected starter this year entering camp over redshirt junior Trey Anderson.
"We're not real worried about [naming a starting quarterback] right now. We're not under any timeline," Chryst said. "Chad [Voytik] has two years under his belt. I love what he's done up to this point. I'm looking forward to working with him this fall."
Voytik is also excited to start camp and is looking forward to playing this season. He gained some valuable experience last year when he was forced to play the second half of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl after starter Tom Savage was hurt. Voytik helped guide the Panthers to a win.
"Now it's time to have all the work pay off," Voytik said. "I'm trying to continue building as a leader and expand my knowledge base."
Lack of depth on both the offensive and defensive lines have been a concern in Chryst's first two years at Pitt as he has attempted to rebuild the program. He is happy to enter this camp with more numbers in the trenches than anytime during his short tenure.
The Panthers enter camp with 15 linemen on each side of the ball, which is vital for the smash-mouth system that Chryst installed at Pitt.
"We have some depth on the lines on both sides. That's huge," Chryst said. "You need [offensive] linemen for the backs to run or you need [defensive] linemen for the linebackers to see the field. Hopefully we stay [healthy]."
Redshirt junior center Artie Rowell will anchor the line. Monday was the start of his fourth year of camp. He feels with four returning starters, himself, redshirt sophomore Adam Bisnowaty, redshirt seniors Matt Rotheram and T.J. Clemmings, along with sophomore Dorian Johnson who played some last year, that the line should be solid this season.
"It feels good [to enter camp as a starter]. Now I can focus on leading the group and doing my part to help other people get ready for the season. Every snap, a lot of the calls start with me determining where people are going and which way the play goes," Rowell said. "Normally we would start [camp] with one or two plays on the first day, but we started today with several plays."
Even though it wass only the first day of camp, freshman wide receiver Adonis Jennings looks talented enough already to contribute this season.
"Were obviously excited Adonis chose to come here. He'll get a lot of work this fall camp. We think he can be a really good player," Chryst said. "We know he's young so we'll help him through that. It was fun being on the field with him and all the freshmen."
Highly-touted sophomore wide receiver/athlete Tyler Boyd looks like a seasoned veteran in only his second year. After setting freshman receiving records at Pitt last year (surpassing the likes of former Biletnikoff Award winners Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Bryant), Boyd is looking forward to playing this season with both the veterans and the newcomers.
"We need to go out on the field and show what we're capable of. I think Coach Chryst is a real intelligent guy. He's going to put me in a position where I can get open," Boyd said. " Secondly, I think we got some young players coming in here that can help."
The Panthers open the season August 30 by hosting Delaware at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
for more info: Pitt web site