Paul Chryst released Pitt's first depth chart of the season on Monday. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
It's here! It's here! Pitt's first game is nearly here with just 4 days separating us from kicking off the 2012 Pitt football season. Let's look at the first depth chart of the 2012 season to get an idea of where Pitt stands heading into the regular season.
QB: Tino Sunseri, Trey Anderson
So this may be a bit of a surprise to some of you. But when you look at it, it shouldn't be a shock. The best case scenario, as we have suggested for a while now, is that Chad Voytik will be able to redshirt this year. This depth chart shows that Paul Chryst wants the same thing as well. Hopefully, Sunseri and/or Anderson will avoid the injury bug during this season and Voytik's redshirt will not have to be burned.
No shock here. Graham shouldn't be needed for Youngstown State, but he is the starter still, no question. If there's any doubt that Ray's knee isn't ready for the first game, then Chryst shouldn't play him and save him for Cincinnati, when Pitt will definitely need him. Isaac Bennett has had a great spring and fall camp - now it's time to see how that carries over to games. Shell should also see carries in this game and if Ray is out, expect a good number of carries in Shell's first game as a Panther.
Giubilato has looked decent in fall camp blocking and catching out of the backfield. Having another target for Tino can only help.
The good news towards the end of camp was that Shanahan and Street both returned to practice. With them healthy and ready to go for Saturday, the WR depth chart is about what we have expected. As far as other receivers after these 4, it will likely depend on the formation as to which players are used.
The position everyone wants to know about. The starting line has been pretty predictable since the start of fall camp. The depth will be a big question throughout the season. One notable name - Bisnowaty making the 2-deep is no surprise. He has had a good camp and the coaching staff clearly has been impressed with his play in fall camp to warrant playing time.
Lippert making the starting lineup is a great story. After seeing limited time the past few years at Pitt, his play throughout spring and fall camp have earned him a starting spot in the lineup. He came into Pitt as a very highly regarded recruit so it's good to see that he may be living up to what we hoped we would see out of him. The same goes with T.J. Clemmings, who came in as a 4-star recruit, saw limited time his freshman season, and was redshirted last year.
Donald is the only returning starter from last season's front 7. He's a great piece to have though. The move from end to tackle will be one to watch, but if he can maintain his sack production (11 sacks last season) despite the fact that defenses will likely try to double-team him when possible, then the unit can fulfill it's potential. There is a lot of talent along the line. If Pitt avoids the injury bug, this defense can easily be in the upper echelon in the country.
NT: Tyrone Ezell, Khaynin Mosley-Smith
Ezell, like Donald, also moved inside after spending last season at defensive end. The move has paid off well in camp. Ezell has had a great fall camp and looks to show that he can be just as good in games. Mosley-Smith, on the other hand, saw a decent amount of playing time last season and looks to see more heading into his sophomore season. As with every other position in the defensive front seven, this position has potential and talent, but no depth. Pitt's going to have to hope that this unit avoids injuries.
The linebackers, right after the offensive line, is the unit I'm going to be watching the most. The linebackers have not been stellar the past few seasons and like the other positions in the front seven, there is not much depth. Rackard is a name most fans probably aren't familiar with. He is a redshirt junior who walked on to the team in 2009. After seeing some time on special teams for the past two seasons, he has worked his way onto the depth chart. Another good story.
Gordon has been the likely starter at MLB since fall camp and he was able to keep that job heading into Week 1. He saw time in every game last season, though he was behind Max Gruder and Tristan Roberts in the depth chart. Same with Trebitz, only he was a bit further down in the depth chart.
There are a few names missing from this position. Todd Thomas has had a longer recovery than hoped for so right now, we don't know when he will see playing time. The other is Dan Mason, who's return to the field during spring camp brought hope that after a horrific injury in 2010, he would suit up again for Pitt in 2012. Again, we don't know if he'll see the field. But his story is truly an inspiration.
Not much of a surprise here. Pitts and Williams have been the two top CBs throughout fall camp for the most part. Christian, a Michigan transfer, and Pardner should still see plenty of playing time. Unlike the other positions on defense, the secondary is going to be strong for Pitt this season, more so in the safety position than cornerback. Still, this shouldn't be a position of concern.
This is arguably Pitt's deepest position on the entire team as either of these 4 players could be placed in the starting lineup and Pitt would be fine. Tags suffered an injury towards the end of fall camp, but he should be ready to go for Saturday. Regardless, either Holley or Tags will be on the field as free safety while Vinopal will be the starting strong safety.
None of this should be a surprise as it is identical to last season. Saddler hasn't had the same speed since he tore his ACL his freshman season, but he and Jones will do a serviceable job as returners.