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New to the Zoo: Danya Kingsby commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a junior college guard

Blessed to announce that I have committed to the University of Pittsburgh pic.twitter.com/wDB22TPTIv— Danya Kingsby (@D_Kingsby2) September 1, 2017

Pitt basketball received some good news tonight, as they landed a verbal commitment from Danya Kingsby. Kingsby is a 6’1” point guard that plays for the College of Southern Idaho in the JuCo ranks. He chose Pitt over offers from UNLV, Texas A&M, and Tulsa among others. He will have two years of eligibility for coach Kevin Stallings.

Kingsby is originally a native of Milwaukee before playing for CSI this past season. As a freshman in 2017, he averaged 11.4 points per game, to go with 3.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds. He helped lead his team to a 27-7 record and a berth in the NJCAA tournament.

Pitt is getting a very athletic guard in Danya Kingsby. His athleticism really jumps off the screen when you watch his highlights. He should provide a nice change of pace to Pitt’s projected starting guard, Marcus Carr in the 2018-19 season.

Kingsby becomes the second recruit in the 2018 class, joining three-star forward, Bryce Golden. Both players are on campus this weekend, along with a few other of Pitt’s top targets.

Pitt obviously brought on 11 new players this past offseason, and that likely will not be the case again in this cycle. With two players committed, I only expect Pitt to take two more at the most. They are in on some good players still, and it would be a welcomed step for this staff to start landing some higher caliber recruits. Golden and Kingsby are two solid recruits, but they could use a headliner in this class.

The Cardiac Spill 2017 Pitt PUN-THERS Football Preview

0% CONTENT//100% WORDPLAY//I NEED YOU TO IMAGINE MY BOWTIE SPINNING AFTER EVERY ITALICIZED PHRASE//IT’S THE ONLY WAY WE’RE GONNA GET THROUGH THIS ONE TOGETHER

vs. Youngstown State Penguins (September 2nd)

Jeez - this first game is for the birds! And with Bo Pelini at the helm, there's no way this game won't be just like this preview - corny! I hope Pitt doesn't play down to the FCS level this week - that is, don't Stoops to their level! I sure hope Heinz Field has "fair weather" for this one! And if you’re going to get a tan this weekend, be careful not to stay in the sun that long - or else you’ll get Max Browne! Zingo! Next!

at Penn State Nittany Lions (September 9th)

A Nittany Lion may be a type of cat - but frankly, I think the dogs are going to Barking over this one! If I may be frank, I... uh...

You know what, give me a week on this one.

vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (September 16th)

Oklahoma State is going to throw so many touchdowns, they should be called "six-shooters!" As we saw last year, Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolphcan make some very crazy throws! Hopefully this one doesn't turn into a real paddling! I still live here! What’s up with that! Bwuh-zam! Next!

at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (September 23rd)

This game is opening ACC play for us - so you know there'll be some real buzz! This one might sting! This high-octane offense might give us some serious road rash! If we start the season 1-3, it'll be a real wreck! Georgia Wreck! Georgia Blech? Bore-gia Blech?! Jim-jam jimminy! Next!

vs. Rice Owls (September 30th)

Jeez - this fifth game is for the birds! This game might seem like a comedown after those last two match-ups, so it's up to the coaches to make sure the players give a hoot! I hope we don't see them try to wing it! If we lose this one, we have a problem! But if this team is as good as advertised, it might be an offensive downpourby Pitt! Pitt games are usually won by a score or less... but it's gonna be at least a ten over Rice! Wa-pow! Next!

at Syracuse Orange (October 7th)

Dome, sweet Dome! Cuse may have a strong offense again, but will they be able to win with their D? No!

...Orange you glad this preview is halfway over? Yes? Whatever, next.

vs. NC State Wolfpack (October 14th)

Oh, grandma, what a big game this might be! NC State might be formidable this year, but I bet Pitt will Do-’er-in! And remember: if you’re going to this game, make sure your concessions trash doesn’t fall out of the can accidentally: that is, make sure the Tre Tipton! Yowza!

Losing to NC State at home? Wuf! Next!

at Duke Blue Devils (October 21st)

This team always has some diabolical scheme - but the devil is in the details, and Pitt usually finds a Wade to win. That is, as long as they don't try to cut any corners, because this team is going to be Jones-ing for a statement win at home. K? Better put your dukes up!And if you go to North Carolina for this game, try racing the trees down there - it’s fun to Chase Pine! Sha-zow! Next!

vs. Virginia Cavaliers (October 28th)

Hoo boy, a home game against Virginia! I think we'll Leead the whole time!

vs North Carolina Tar Heels (November 9th)

Let's all hope that by this game, the ACC Coastal is still up in the air - because we all know that this game is gonna be an uphill battle! Here's hoping that Coach Narduzzi and his boys don't wind up in another sticky situation, and bring home the crown! But if they don’t, well, life’s a Mitch anyway! Buppity Bam! Next!

at Virginia Tech Hokies (November 18th)

Jeez - this eleventh game is for the birds! (I think?) If we're still in Lane for the division at this point, I'll be beaming! Hopefully the Hokies won't e-Vick-t us from the division race, but you better be ready just in case this Fuente fellow coaches football en fuego! Say your prayers, I guess! And when you’re, you, crossing grocery store lanes without... permission, you... uhhh... Jay Stocker.

...

Shabbledeeboo! Next!

vs. Miami Hurricanes (November 24th)

This game sure might rock me like a Hurricane! A win here would be a golden way to end the season! And if, after this game, you (a vampire) decide to go cattle shopping for an upcoming rodeo, be sure to tell them “Avonte Maddox!”

Alright, bye.

FINAL SEASON RECORD PREDICTION: [distant “ha-cha-cha-cha” noises]

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill’s facebook page and follow us on Twitter (@PittPantherBlog) for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Send hate mail to @N_THEYSTAYTHERE (nicetryilluminati@gmail.com)

(Don't) Bet the Farm: Cardiac Hill's Pitt-Youngstown State Game Picks

With Pitt facing Youngstown State this weekend, we'll be continuing our weekly staff picks. As usual, we'll be keeping a tally throughout the season.

Historically, here are the past winners from each season to date:

2016: Corey2015: Anson/Aron (tie)2014: Chris2013: Anson

No surprises here - this year, all of our writers are expecting a Pitt victory to open the season. The Panthers may not blow out Youngstown State but no one is picking against them to lose the game outright.

Anson - PittCorey - PittHokie Mark - PittJD - PittJim - PittJordan - PittMatt - PittMike - PittPBS - PittStephen - Pitt

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Cardiac Hill Predicts the College Football Season

The staff and friends take a stab at forecasting the 2017 college football season.

The tradition continues for another year. In each of the past two seasons members of Cardiac Hill and former writers for the site have tried to predict the college football season. As you might guess, those prediction are spotty at best.

So we will try our best to do the same once again. Last weekend was a “soft” opening of college football, but it’s back 100% in all it’s glory this weekend. Everyone here at Cardiac Hill is excited for Pitt football, and college football in general. So as you settle in to watch Indiana and Ohio State tonight, check out our picks.

Here is this year’s trusty panel.

Cardiac Hill staff

  • Anson Whaley - He correctly picked Clemson to win it all last year.
  • J.D. Schroderer - J.D. picked Dewayne Hendrix to have a breakout year, turned out he got in hurt in the first quarter of the first game.
  • Corey Cohen - Corey had LSU to win it all last season.....
  • viewfromtheZoo32 - He’s new around here, so we’ll see what he’s got.
  • P.B.S. - That Kenny Hill Heisman pick did not age well.
  • Matt Hawley - Newbie
  • Mike Wilson - Ditto
  • JimHammett - I said the Clemson game last year wasn’t winnable so....

Former Cardiac Hill Contributors.

  • Aron Minkoff - Aron picked Pitt to win the Coastal last year, I like the optimism.
  • Spilly - In a bit of an upset, HB Blades did not win ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Mike - He left this caveat last season in his ACC Atlantic pick, “Clemson, provided they rebound from losing to Pitt at home.” I guess they did rebound from that loss.
  • Dan Sostek - Dan was out in front of the Lamar Jackson hype train.
  • Adam Bittner - Adam picked Darrin Hall for 2 different Pitt related categories, it didn’t work out well.
  • Bryan (PittScript) - He didn’t make any picks last year, wise man.
  • Bryan (The other one) - Bryan had Quadree Henderson as his breakout player, good call.
  • MikeO - Like everyone else, he incorrectly picked Damar Hamlin to be Pitt’s top freshman.
  • Pat - Pat’s Leonard Fournette Heisman pick did not pan out.
  • Jesse Irwin - His James Conner Heisman pick was a bit ambitious.
  • Chris Bruno - Chris was too trusting of Miami, will he make the same mistake this year?

ACC Coastal Pick

Anson - MiamiJD - MiamiCorey - Virginia TechviewfromtheZoo32 - MiamiPBS - Virginia TechMatt Hawley - Virginia TechMike Wilson - MiamiJimHammett - Miami

Aron - Virginia TechSpilly - Virginia TechMikeDan - MiamiAdam - NOT Miami Bryan (PittScript) - Georgia TechBryan - Virginia TechMikeO - MiamiPat - Virginia TechJesse - PittChris - Miami

ACC Atlantic Pick

Anson - Florida StateJD - Florida StateCorey - Florida StateviewfromtheZoo32 - Florida StatePBS - Florida StateMatt Hawley - Florida StateMike Wilson - Florida StateJimHammett - Florida State

Aron - Florida StateSpilly - LouisvilleMikeDan - Florida StateAdam - Florida State Bryan (PittScript) - Florida State Bryan - Florida StateMikeO - Florida StatePat - NC StateJesse - Louisville Chris - Florida State

ACC Offensive Player of the Year

Anson - Lamar Jackson QB LouisvilleJD - Deondre Francois QB Florida StateCorey - Lamar Jackson QB LouisvilleviewfromtheZoo32 - Lamar Jackson QB LouisvillePBS - Lamar Jackson QB LouisvilleMatt Hawley - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville Mike Wilson - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville JimHammett - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville

Aron - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville Spilly - Lamar Jackson QB LouisvilleMike - Dan - Deondre Francois QB Florida StateAdam - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville Bryan (PittScript) - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville Bryan - Deondre Francois QB Florida StateMikeO - Deondre Francois QB Florida StatePat - Lamar Jackson QB LouisvilleJesse - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville Chris - Lamar Jackson QB Louisville

ACC Defensive Player of the Year

Anson - Derwin James S Florida StateJD - Derwin James S Florida State Corey - Christian Wilkins DT Clemson viewfromtheZoo32 - Harold Landry DE Boston CollegePBS - Derwin James S Florida StateMike Wilson - Harold Landry DE Boston College JimHammett - Derwin James S Florida State

Aron - Harold Landry DE Boston CollegeSpilly - Derwin James S Florida StateMikeDan - Derwin James S Florida StateAdam - Christian Wilkins DT Clemson Bryan (PittScript) - Bradley Chubb DE NC State Bryan - Harold Landry DE Boston CollegeMikeO - Dexter Lawrence DT ClemsonPat - Derwin James S Florida State Jesse - Josh Sweat DE Florida StateChris - Harold Landry DE Boston College

Heisman

Anson - Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma JD - Sam Darnold QB USC Corey - JT Barrett QB Ohio State viewfromtheZoo32 - Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma PBS - Saquon Barkley RB Penn StateMatt Hawley - Sam Darnold QB USCMike Wilson - Sam Darnold QB USCJimHammett - JT Barrett QB Ohio State

Aron - Josh Rosen QB UCLA Spilly _ Lamar Jackson QB Louisville MikeDan - Mason Rudolph QB Oklahoma StateAdam - Sam Darnold QB USC Bryan (PittScript) - Saquon Barkley RB Penn State Bryan - Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma MikeO - Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma Pat - Sam Darnold QB USC Jesse - EJ Borghetti SID Pitt Chris - Sam Darnold QB USC

National Champion Prediction

Anson - Alabama over Ohio StateJD - USC over PSU Corey - Ohio State over AlabamaviewfromtheZoo32 - Alabama over Florida StatePBS - Florida State over OklahomaMatt Hawley - Alabama over USCMike Wilson - Alabama over Ohio State JimHammett - Florida State over USC

Aron - Alabama Spilly - Alabama, per the usual roughly biennial Sabanic dark sacrificeMikeDan - AlabamaAdam - Alabama Bryan (PittScript)Bryan - USCMikeO - AlabamaPat - USC Jesse - PittChris - USC

Pitt Offensive MVP

Anson - Jester Weah WRJD - Jester Weah WR Corey - Quadree Henderson WR viewfromtheZoo32 - Quadree Henderson WRPBS - Quadree Henderson WRMatt Hawley - Quadree Henderson WRMike Wilson - Qadree Ollison RBJimHammett - Max Browne QB

Aron - Max Browne QBSpilly - Quadree Henderson WRMikeDan - Quadree Henderson WRAdam - Brian O’Neill LT Bryan (PittScript) - Quadree Henderson WR Bryan - Qadree Ollison RBMikeO - Chris Clark TEPat - Jester Weah WRJesse - Quadree Henderson WR Chris - Quadree Henderson, though I really want to say Brian O'Neil here.

Pitt Defensive MVP

Anson - Dewayne Hendrix DEJD - Saleem Brightwell Corey - Dewayne Hendrix DEviewfromtheZoo32 - Dewayne Hendrix DEPBS - NoMatt Hawley - Dewayne Hendrix DEMike Wilson - Jordan Whitehead SJimHammett - Saleem Brightwell LB

Aron - Jordan Whitehead SSpilly - A bag that blows in from the stands and trips a WR, becoming the #1 safety in the processMikeDan - Saleem Brightwell LBAdam - Saleem Brightwell LBBryan (PittScript) - Dewayne Hendrix DE Bryan - Avonte Maddox CB MikeO - Dewayne Hendrix DEPat - Kam Carter DTJesse - Jordan Whitehead S Chris - Let's go with Dewayne Hendrix again...UGH stay healthy!

Pitt Breakout Candidate

Anson - Dewayne Hendrix DEJD - Keyshon Camp DTCorey - Chris Clark TE viewfromtheZoo32PBS - Damar Hamlin CBMatt Hawley - Chawntez Moss RBMike Wilson - Damar Hamlin CBJimHammett - Rashad Weaver DE

Aron - Max Browne QBSpilly - Homecoming Bobblehead of James ConnerMikeDan - Saleem Brightwell LBAdam - Jester Weah WRBryan (PittScript) - Damar Hamlin CBBryan - Ruben Flowers III WRMikeO - Therran Coleman CBPat - Maurice Ffrench WRJesse - Heather Lyke ADChris - Chris Clark TE

Pitt’s Top Freshman

Anson - Keyshon Camp DTJD - Damarri Mathis CBCorey - Alex Kessman K viewfromtheZoo32 - Therran Coleman CBPBS - Jimmy Morrissey CMatt Hawley - Keyshon Camp DTMike Wilson - Damarri Mathis CBJimHammett - Damarri Mathis CB

Aron - AJ Davis RB Spilly - Theodore Blewitt, the strangely old walk on kicker here to save a beaten to death Twitter jokeMikeDan - Dontavius Butler-Jenkins WRAdam - Todd Sibley RB Bryan (PittScript) - Rashad Weaver DE Bryan - Damarri Mathis CBMikeO - AJ Davis RBPat - Dontavius Butler-Jenkins WR Jesse - Alex Kessman K Chris - AJ Davis...was so going to say Paris Ford, but just too far behind right now.

Pitt’s Toughest Game

Anson - @ Penn StateJD - @ Penn StateCorey - @ Penn StateviewfromtheZoo32 - Penn StatePBS - Oklahoma StateMatt Hawley - @ Penn StateMike Wilson - Miami JimHammett - @ Georgia Tech (plaything the triple option directly after PSU and OK State is going to be tough)

Aron - @ PSUSpilly - Syracuse, when the game is called a tie at 1437 points each in centuple overtimeMikeDan - Oklahoma StateAdam - The one after their biggest winBryan (PittScript) - @ Penn StateBryan - @ Penn StateMikeO - Oklahoma StatePat - @ Virginia TechJesse - The National Championship GameChris - @ Penn State

Pitt’s Final Record

Anson - 8-4JD - 8-4Corey - 7-5viewfromtheZoo32 - 8-4PBS - 6-6Matt Hawley - 8-4Mike Wilson - 8-4 JimHammett - 8-4

Aron - 8-4 Spilly - 69-0MikeDan - 7-5Adam - 8-5Bryan (PittScript) - 6-6Bryan - 9-3 MikeO - 7-5Pat - 7-5Jesse - 8-4Chris - 7-5. Would love 8.

Local Pitt Football Media Predictions for 2017 season

Pittsburgh Sports Now rounded up some Pitt football predictions from local media. I added my thoughts and my general feeling for this team is another 8-4 year.

That likely won't please head coach Pat Narduzzi if it happens but it would be a solid year with a challenging schedule and lots of key personnel losses from last year. The non-conference schedule is difficult with two ranked teams and while the Panthers avoid the deadly Florida State/Clemson pairing this season, they also must face the competition in the Coastal, which includes Miami, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina squads that have all been above average teams.

You can check out the predictions of local media type folk here.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author @AnsonWhaley.

Against the Odds: Pitt expected to win big against Youngstown State

With Pitt's football team facing an FCS opponent, odds for the game aren't really available. But OddsShark has at least offered a score prediction for Saturday and expects the Panthers to win big.

Their projected score is Pitt 42 (41.8, actually), Youngstown State 15.

That would satisfy most fans, I'd imagine. Pitt would score quite a few points and the defense would keep the Penguins to about two touchdowns. It would be hard to complain too much about and if everyone got out healthy, that would be about as successful a week as you could have.

I'd be a little surprised if that was the result and that seems to be in line with what most of the readers are saying, too - in our poll, about 60% think the Panthers will win by fewer than 14 points. Pitt should probably be keeping the offense pretty scaled-back in anticipation of the Penn State game - something they did last year against Villanova. I also expect them to try to play reserves quite a bit if they can get out ahead and that could keep things closer, too.

The Panthers also have some obstacles to face in the opener. And while the Panthers did win relatively comfortably against Nova last season, they've struggled with the Penguins the last two times out, including in 2015 under Pat Narduzzi's head coaching debut with Pitt.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt women’s soccer goes undefeated through four

Freshman talent has emerged to give the Panthers a boost

The Pitt women’s soccer team is undefeated through its first four games of the 2017 season. Though it’s too early to tell if that success is sustainable, the outlook is good, and several young players have already emerged as key contributors.

So far this season, the Panthers have beaten Hofstra and Duquesne, with a final score of 1-0 in each of those games. They’ve also played well on the road, earning draws against Cincinnati and Xavier in their last two outings.

To put that into perspective, every team Pitt has played this season other than Xavier posted a winning record with 10 or more wins last season. The Panthers, meanwhile, went 2-15-1 overall, earning the second-worst RPI ranking among Power Five teams. So this represents significant progress.

Much of this recent success is the result of an influx of freshman talent that has paid off surprisingly quickly. In fact, the wins over Hofstra and Duquesne were largely freshman showcases.

The season opener against Hofstra was won on the foot of freshman forward Juelle Love, who knocked in an opportunistic shot after Pride goalkeeper Ashley Wilson was forced to fend off an aggressive attack from redshirt junior striker Taylor Pryce. Pryce was credited with an assist, as was freshman midfielder Vildan Kardesler.

Kardesler — who captained the German national team at the U17 level before coming to Pitt — came up big against Duquesne with a game-winner in the 101st minute of a defensive struggle that went into double overtime. Head coach Greg Miller described Kardesler as “an extreme talent,” per Pitt’s website, and after her impressive start, it will be interesting to see what she can do this season.

Of course, Pitt wouldn’t have had the chance to win those tight games without redshirt freshman goalkeeper Katelyn McEachern. She defended eight shots against the Pride and the Dukes, recording back-to-back shutouts and earning ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors for her efforts.

Coach Miller was asked about his freshmen after the win over Duquesne, and he sounded genuinely impressed.

“This freshman class is fantastic,” he said, per Pitt’s website. “Great talent, great human beings and it’s great for their confidence early on to be contributing in that way. We’ll get the older ones involved, and they’ll get theirs. But it’s great that we have some variety, because you never know where the goals are going to come from, and we need them.”

The upperclassmen did get involved against Cincinnati on Thursday, as Pryce netted a brace to give Pitt a comfortable lead early in the second half. She was assisted by freshman forward Jess McCoppin, but that was the end of the freshman highlights.

McEachern had a tough night in Cincinnati, letting in two late goals from Bearcats defender Vanessa Gilles and midfielder Gabrielle LoPresti. The first goal was hardly McEachern’s fault, as the Pitt defenders lost track of Gilles, allowing her to slip behind them and head in a perfectly lofted ball by midfielder Katy Couperus. But LoPresti’s low shot, which McEachern got a hand on, seemed stoppable.

Still, most of this falls on the shoulders of Pitt’s defense, which let the Bearcats reel off 34 shots on the night, including 12 on goal. All in all, it was a disappointing outcome, considering Pitt had a tough Cincinnati team on the ropes early.

The Xavier game didn’t have as much offensive flash as the matchup with the Bearcats, but it ended on a much more uplifting note.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first half, the Panthers were able to fight back late and force a draw with a goal in the 84th minute. Junior forward Sarah Krause drew Xavier goalkeeper Toni Bizzarro out of the net with a shot that ricocheted toward redshirt junior Seyla Perez. Perez headed it in, evening up the score and sending the game into extra time.

McEachern made four saves in the game but was taken out for the second half after letting a header get by her in the 35th minute. She was replaced in goal by fellow redshirt freshman Amaia Pena, who made five stops and allowed no goals in 65 minutes.

With their road trip to Cincy in the books, the Panthers will head back home to take on Detroit and Illinois State. Both teams struggled in away games last season, so the Panthers have a legitimate shot at reaching four wins before they hit the road to face steeper challenges in Kent State and Nebraska.

Breaking Down the Two Deep: Pitt vs. Youngstown State

Looking at Pitt’s initial depth chart for the opener.

Quarterback

  1. Max Browne 6’5” 230 Senior
  2. Ben DiNucci 6’2” 220 Sophomore

It was announced last week that Max Browne was officially named the starter for the season opener, but I think most of us knew that was the likely outcome the second he transferred from USC. Browne’s story is well known by now, he is a former five star quarterback that never really found his footing for the Trojans. He comes to Pitt with one year to leave his mark. The talent and pedigree are there, he just needs to prove it on the field. Browne started some games for the Trojans last year, including one against Alabama, so he is not totally inexperienced.

DiNucci contended Browne throughout the Spring and recently Fall camp, but will enter the season as the backup. His only game experience came in the bowl game last season. He looked OK in the Spring game, and should be a solid backup this season.

Running Back

  1. Qadree Ollison 6’2” 230 Junior
  2. Darrin Hall 5’11” 220 Junior

Pitt only lists two backs on their initial depth chart, but that does not mean only two will play. We’ll start with the guys that are listed. Qadree Ollison is by far Pitt’s most experienced back, as he was the primary starter in 2015 and produced a 1,000 yard season. He also carried the ball 33 times last season for 127 yards and two scores. He obviously lost a lot of playing time with James Conner’s return. He will get the first crack as being the top back this year, but he will be pushed.

Also back for his junior season is Darrin Hall. Hall carried the ball 36 times last season, as opposed to 64 times as a freshman. He has 417 career rushing yards and two touchdowns. He too was affected by James Conner’s return and it limited his playing time. He has more speed than Ollison, and can add a different element.

Not listed is sophomore Chawtez Moss. He had more yards and carries than both Ollison and Hall last year, and flashed some skill as a freshman. He should push for playing time. Also looking for carries will be two highly touted freshmen, Todd Sibley and AJ Davis. It will be interesting to see if one or both guys can play this season.

Fullback

  1. Colton Lively 6’0” 235 Senior
  2. Erik Sellers 6’1” 230 Sophomore

Truthfully, I was not sure Pitt would even list a Fullback without the services of George Aston. He is injured for an undisclosed amount of time, but is expected back at some point this season. Obviously Aston was a good and versatile player for Pitt last season. It’s hard to say if Colton Lively and Erik Sellers can play the way Aston does. I expect Pitt to use multiple tight ends and three wide receivers quite a bit, but if they list a fullback, my guess they play to use one. We’ll see how the replacements handle the added responsibility.

Wide Receiver

  1. Jester Weah 6’3” 210 Senior // Quadree Henderson 5’8” 190 Junior
  2. Ruben Flowers III 6’3” 205 Freshman // Maurice Ffrench 5’11” 190 Sophomore
  3. Aaron Mathews 6’4” 205 Sophomore // Rafael Araujo-Lopes 5’9” 190 Junior

Pitt returns both starters at wide receiver. Jester Weah is back after a breakout campaign in 2016. Weah caught 36 passes for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 24.2 yards per cage was the second best average natioanlly, and he should prove to be one of the best deep threats in college football once again. Pitt will also look to get more ways to get Quadree Henderson the ball. The reverses and sweeps maybe watched closer by opposing defenses, so the hope is that he developed more as a pass catcher for this season.

The depth took a blow when Pitt lost Tre Tipton for the year, but they have some guys with experience behind the starters. Maurice Ffrench appears like he could be the #3 option. He played some as a true freshman, but was used in the jet sweep role, but like Henderson, can be electric with the ball in his hands. Aaron Mathews and Rafael Araujo-Lopes played some throughout the season, Mathews broke through in the bowl game and made a few big plays. The wild card here could be redshirt freshman, Ruben Flowers III. He is a former four-star recruit, and could be a candidate to breakout this season.

Tight End

  1. Matt Flanagan 6’6” 260 Senior
  2. Chris Clark 6’6” 260 Sophomore
  3. Devon Edwards 6’4” 275 Senior

Matt Flanagan came to Pitt in the offseason as a graduate transfer from Rutgers. He had 17 career starts for the Scarlet Knights, and is the most experienced tight end on the roster. He was not much of a pass catching threat for Rutgers, but he played and was relied on as a blocker.

Chris Clark was the favorite to be Pitt’s starting tight end, and that may very well happen still. Clark was at one time the top ranked tight end recruit in the country and had an offer from just about every big time school. The talent is there, and he will play a considerable amount this season and could overtake the starting job at any point. Devon Edwards will provide depth as an extra blocker most likely. Not listed here are the three true freshmen tight ends on the roster, but one of them could push for playing time, most notably former four-star Charles Reeves.

Left Tackle

  1. Brian O’Neill 6’6” 305 Junior
  2. Tony Pilato 6’5” 320 Sophomore

Left Guard

  1. Alex Officer 6’4” 340 Senior
  2. Brandon Ford 6’5” 310 Freshman

Center

  1. Jimmy Morrissey 6’3” 300 Freshman
  2. Connor Dintino 6’3” 315 Junior

Right Guard

  1. Brandon Hodges 6’4” 315 Senior
  2. Mike Herndon 6’4” 310 Junior

Right Tackle

  1. Jaryd Jones-Smith 6’7” 320 Senior
  2. Jerry Drake 6’5” 315 Freshman

Despite losing two seniors that were NFL draft picks in the Spring, the offensive line could be a strength once again. Pitt will be without the services of Alex Bookser this week, who is serving a one game suspension. Still, they should be strong enough without him to face the Penguins.

The anchor of the line will be junior Brian O’Neill, who is shifting from right tackle to the left side. O’Neill is one of the better tackles in the country, and a strong junior season could thrust him into the NFL draft conversation. Also on the left side will be senior, Alex Officer, who has started the past 34 games on the line.

Some new faces will fill out the remainder of the line. Jaryd Jones-Smith was a key player for Pitt in 2014, but was lost to injury in 2015 and returned to play some last year. Obviously he is a massive player and many thought he had pro potential during the 2014 season, and he will look to regain that form. Joining Jones-Smith on the right side will be a graduate transfer from Texas, Brandon Hodges. He started 9 games for the Longhorns last season.

In a competitive battle for the starting center spot, former walk-on Jimmy Morrissey beat out junior Connor Dintino to be the starter. This spot will be interesting once Bookser returns, because Officer could assume the center duties.

Defensive End

  1. Dewayne Hendrix 6’4” 260 Junior OR Rashad Weaver 6’5” 265 Freshman // Allen Edwards 6’5” 255 Senior
  2. James Folston Jr. 6’4” 250 Junior
  3. Patrick Jones II 6’5” 245 Freshman

Pitt will again turn to Dewayne Hendrix to be a starting defensive end, just like last season’s opener. Hendrix was not able to show much after getting injured and missing the whole season. He is a former four-star with loads of potential and many are hoping he can offset the loss of Ejuan Price. He is listed alongside Rashad Weaver as a co-starter. My guess is Hendrix is a bit banged up, and we’ll see quite a bit of Weaver on Saturday. Weaver is a redshirt freshman that looks like he can be something special if he can put it together. The other starter will be senior Allen Edwards. He started four games last season late in the year, and showed a lot of positive things. He will look to carry that over into his senior season.

James Folston Jr. has some experience and will be in the mix quite a bit. The final member listed is redshirt freshman, Patrick Jones II. Jones is physically impressive and has some potential, but still may be a year away from being a serious contributor.

Nose Tackle

  1. Shane Roy 6’4” 280 Junior
  2. Rashad Wheeler 6’3” 290 Freshman
  3. Jaylen Twyman 6’2” 315 Freshman

Defensive Tackle

  1. Keyshon Camp 6’4” 290 Freshman
  2. Amir Watts 6’3” 285 Sophomore
  3. Kam Carter 6’4” 295 Sophomore

Since assuming the role as head coach, Pat Narduzzi has recruited a few areas better than others. Defensive Tackle is one of his stronger positions. Pitt list six players on the two-deep for the interior spots. While inexperienced, there is a lot of talent in this group, five of the six players are sophomores or younger. And four of the six were four star recruits. It may take time, but this could be a strong unit at some point this season.

Shane Roy provides experience and is a bit of a surprise as a starter. He has paid his dues and apparently impressed during camp to earn a starting job. Joining him as a starter is highly touted redshirt freshman, Keyson Camp. Two of the more intriguing backups are Amir Watts and Kam Carter. Watts played some as a true freshman, but an injury slowed him down some. Kam Carter started his collegiate career at Penn State, and after a stop in junior college is now with the Panthers. He is a talented player and has a chance to get some serious playing time this season.

Money Linebacker

  1. Elijah Zeise 6’2” 230 Junior
  2. Jalen Williams 6’2” 215 Junior

Mike Linebacker

  1. Saleem Brightwell 6’0” 220 Sophomore
  2. Chase Pine 6’2” 240 Freshman

Star Linebacker

  1. Seun Idowu 6’0” 225 Junior
  2. Anthony McKee Jr. 6’2” 215 Sophomore
  3. Rimoni Dorsey 6’0” 195 Sophomore

Seun Idowu started 12 games last season and had his ups and downs, but finished third on the team in tackles. He is a former walk-on, but should be expected to take a step forward this season. He is better than many expected him to be last season.

Saleem Brightwell assumes the middle linebacker role after spending most of the year as a backup. Brightwell however, is not inexperienced. He played in a lot of big games last season and had one of the plays of the year for a Pitt player by picking off a pass to keep Pitt alive in the Clemson game. He has very high expectations heading into his sophomore season.

The third starter will be junior Elijah Zeise. He actually beat out Idowu for a starting role last season, but was injured and missed the remainder of the season in the opener. He was initially a wide receiver, but transitioned to defense before last season.

The depth takes a hit while senior Quintin Wirginis serves his three game suspension, but sophomore Anthony McKee Jr. and freshman Chase Pine were at one time important recruits for Pitt, and could push for playing time on talent alone.

Cornerback

  1. Avonte Maddox 5’9” 180 Senior // Dane Jackson 6’0” 180 Sophomore OR Damarri Mathis 5’11” 185 Freshman
  2. Jason Pinnock 6’0” 190 Freshman
  3. Malik Henderson 6’0” 190 Sophomore

Avonte Maddox will be Pitt’s top corner once again this season. The senior from Detroit has 28 career starts under his belt, along with 6 career interceptions. Overall, Pitt cornerbacks had a rough 2016, but Maddox showed some bright spots during the season and is a tested veteran.

Starting opposite of Maddox is still up in the air as it could be sophomore Dane Jackson or true freshman Damarri Mathis. Jackson started three games last season, and made some big plays, but like Pitt’s other corners had his struggles. Damarri Mathis was a nice recruiting win for Pitt as they flipped him away from South Carolina before signing day. Mathis has been getting rave reviews since he walked on campus, and perhaps he can live up to the hype.

The reserve corners beyond the top three are inexperienced as well. Jason Pinnock is another true freshman and is know to play a physical style, and has the body type to match it. He will likely play quite a bit this season. Malik Henderson played sparingly last season.

One notable name missing here is Therran Coleman. Many expected him to compete for a starting job this year, and maybe that can still happen, but it sounds like he may be a bit banged up and is slowly coming along.

Strong Safety

  1. Dennis Briggs 5’10” 195 Junior
  2. Phil Campbell 6’1” 195 Freshman
  3. Henry Miller 6’3” 205 Freshman

Free Safety

  1. Bricen Garner 6’1” 180 Freshman OR Jazzee Stocker 6’2” 190 Sophomore

I mentioned how defensive tackle has been recruited well by Narduzzi in his tenure, and I think Safety is another position where you could say this is true. I think there is a lot of talent here, and some of it is not listed. Jordan Whitehead will be back in a few weeks, and he is an elite level player. Sophomore Damar Hamlin is still dealing with an injury, but he could push for playing time, and of course Pitt’s top recruit from last year, Paris Ford, enrolled late but may be as talented as a player they have. OK now for the guys that are actually listed...

Dennis Briggs was named as a captain last week, as a junior, which speaks to how the team views him. He played mostly as a nickel last year, but looks like he will start, at least for the first three games. He had to fend off two talented redshirt freshmen, Phil Campbell and Henry Miller. Both of those players have a lot of promise for the future, and should see time Saturday.

The other spot seems to be an ongoing battle. Many thought Jazzee Stocker (He went by Jay last year) would be the presumptive starter, but redshirt freshman Bricen Garner has pushed him to a tie thus far, we’ll see both guys on Saturday.

Kicker - Alex Kessman 6’3” 190 Freshman

Punter - Ryan Winslow 6’6” 225 Senior

Long Snapper - Cal Adomitis 6’1” 210 Freshman

Alex Kessman assumes the kicking duties replacing four year starter Chris Blewitt. Ryan Winslow is back as the starter for the third straight season, while Cal Adomitis is a brand new starter at Long Snapper.

Kick Returner - Quadree Henderson // Maurice Ffrench

Punt Returner - Quadree Henderson // Avonte Maddox

Quadree Henderson is arguably the best return man in America, Pitt is in good hands here. Avonte Maddox has a few special teams touchdowns in his career as well.

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Week: Pitt vs. Youngstown State

Pitt battles Youngstown State in the football season opener this weekend. While I expect most of you believe the Panthers will win, I'm guessing there might be some variance in the level of comfort among us.

As I mentioned on Monday, Pitt has some hurdles in this game, including dealing with a few suspensions to key players and breaking in a new quarterback. The Panthers are also facing what is expected to be one of the top teams in the FCS this season. Still, at home, it's really hard to pick against Pitt here.

How do you expect the Panthers to fare this weekend? Weigh in with the poll below.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author @AnsonWhaley.
Poll What do you expect in the Panthers' first game of the football season against Youngstown State? Win by 20 points or more Win by 14-19 points Win by 10-13 points Win by 5-9 points Win by five points or less (or worse)   0 votes | Results

Nathan Peterman is the Bills’ No. 1 quarterback — for now

The ex-Panther is Buffalo’s only healthy signal-caller

Former Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman has had some impressive outings with the Buffalo Bills this preseason, but it didn’t seem like that was going to get him very far.

The presence of incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor meant he had no shot at the No. 1 job, and T.J. Yates seemed to have the inside track on the second-string position early in the preseason because of his previous experience in offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s system.

To Peterman’s credit, he appeared to overtake Yates for the No. 2 spot with his performance against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 10, and it seemed like that was going to be the peak of the preseason, if not the entire 2017 season, for him.

But things change fast in the NFL, and they did for Peterman and the Bills on Saturday night.

On the team’s second drive in their game against the Baltimore Ravens, Taylor’s head hit the ground as he was sacked by linebacker Matthew Judon. Taylor left the game, and shortly after, the Bills issued an announcement, noting that he had suffered a concussion and would not return.

Peterman took over for Taylor and went on to complete 11 of his 23 passes for 93 yards. Although he failed to post 100 passing yards for the first time this preseason, he led the Bills on their only scoring drive of the night before coming out of the game.

After the game, Bills head coach Sean McDermott sounded pleased with what he saw from Peterman.

“The next man stepped up tonight,” he said, per the team. “Peterman did well. I was proud of how he handled himself.”

Yates relieved Peterman in the third quarter and threw for 102 yards on eight completions, but he coughed up his second pick of the preseason. The interception proved costly, as the Ravens went on to score three plays later. But that wouldn’t be the worst news for Yates.

On Sunday, Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com reported that Yates had also suffered a concussion against the Ravens, leaving Peterman as the team’s only healthy quarterback.

“The morning after the 13-9 loss to the Ravens, T.J. Yates joined starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the concussion protocol,” Brown said.

The news was something of a surprise, as Yates wasn’t sacked on Saturday, showed no signs of injury and never left the game. Even McDermott was uncertain when the concussion occurred.

“I don’t know for sure exactly what play, but he took some licks later in the game trying to win the game at the end,” he said.

The injuries leave the Bills in a tough spot, as they now need to track down a short-term contributor or two to fill in under center. They also have just two weeks left until their season opener against the New York Jets, and although McDermott called the situation “concerning,” he didn’t go into detail about his plans to resolve the issue.

“The quarterback position this week will be an interesting one,” he said. “We’ll obviously have to go in with more than one quarterback, so we’re going through that right now and we’ll see how it works out.”

For now, the surprising news means Peterman should at least get some first-team reps in practice, giving McDermott and Dennison a chance to see what he can do when surrounded by first-string talent. And with Taylor and Yates unlikely to be rushed back for the Bills’ preseason finale against the Detroit Lions on Thursday, Peterman may get an extended look there as well.

With that said, McDermott has clearly stated that Taylor is his starter, and the only way that seems likely to change is if he’s unable to play. That’s currently the case, but NFL players often get through the concussion protocol in just a week or two. So while there’s a chance that Peterman could start in Week 1, it’s unlikely that he’ll end up getting the nod.

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