Spring Notes

Lots of Spring football notes over the past week or so. The themes seem to be focusing on players with increased roles to play.

First up, though, I've never seen an official site for a college team make an official announcement that someone is EXPECTED to join their coaching staff:
CALIFORNIA (April 7) – Although details have yet to be finalized, California University of Pennsylvania anticipates adding Walt Harris to its football staff under the direction of head coach John Luckhardt.

Harris, former head coach at the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University, is noted for his ability to produce talented quarterbacks. His title and duties at Cal U have not yet been decided.
Wow, talk about being excited.

Now, moving onto Pitt's team:

The guy who may benefit the most from Jonathan Baldwin:
Shanahan's role in the offense might be labeled as a "possession" receiver because, as Wannstedt notes, Shanahan has the ability to hurt teams that underestimate his athleticism.

"He's a big guy who, because of his basketball skills, can position you," Wannstedt said. "If they're going to double-team Baldwin and leave Shanahan one-on-one, the guy covering him is going to have to go up and be able to make a play on the ball, or [Shanahan] is going to beat you."
I'm really torn on how much of an impact Shanahan will make. If he's the starter opposite Baldwin, who will obviously draw a lot of attention, a lot of people are calling for him to have a great season. But with an inexperienced line and quarterback, I don't know how much the passing game will be relied upon. Part of that, of course, will depend on the individual games, if Pitt is ahead or behind, and down and distance. But while I expect Shanahan to have a good season, it will be interesting to see just how much the passing game is utilized. Still, I like his game enough to think that he will make a sizable impact. So how good will he be? I don't know, ask me tomorrow.

And speaking of that inexperienced offensive line, walk-on Alex Karabin could be the starting center. The somewhat surprising thing to me is that he might STILL be a walk-on:
That leaves Karabin as the starter entering camp in August. Even if he does earn the job, he might not get a scholarship. Last season, Wannstedt gave scholarships to three former walk-ons -- kicker Dan Hutchins, reserve quarterback Andrew Janocko and defensive lineman Chas Alecxih.

"If we have one, nothing would make me happier than to give one to Alex," Wannstedt said. "He's deserving."

Karabin would like it, too, to take some of the financial burden off his parents.
I'm sure Wannstedt will do his best to get him a scholarship. I think you've got to find one for anyone who starts for your team.

Shayne Hale and Brandon Lindsey will see time as backups this year.

And of course you've got fan favorite, Henry Hynoski:
After two seasons of being mostly a battering-ram blocker for Dion Lewis and LeSean McCoy, Hynoski is champing at the bit to being a bigger part of the offense.

"I'm thrilled about it," he said. "I love when the ball is in my hands. I was used to that all throughout high school. Now I have the opportunity as a fullback to run, block and catch equally. I'm just thrilled to death about it. I'm just very excited that I have the opportunity."
I love what Hynoski brings and would love for Pitt to find a few opportunities to not only get him the ball in short distance situations, but think they might be surprised if they can find a way to get the ball in the open field on things like short screen passes. That might be unrealistic, but man, would it be scary for an opposing cornerback to try to take him down one on one.

And could little-used Greg Cross turn into this year's Dorin Dickerson - a skill player making an impact at another position? He apparently didn't mind the move:
"I got stuck playing quarterback," he said. "I love (playing receiver). I'm learning every day to go out and compete."
Also, the Blue-Gold game is next Saturday - free admission.

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