Wanted to get to this earlier since I noticed it on Saturday, but in case you missed it, freshman tackle Dorian Johnson burned his redshirt for this season by playing against New Mexico.
First things first - I've always hated the term 'burned a redshirt' because technically, players can take redshirts in later seasons. If Pitt really wanted to redshirt him next year, they could. That obviously won't happen barring an injury or something, but whatever.
At any rate, Johnson was one player to keep an eye on and the possibility of redshirting is something we've covered quite a bit. He was part of a big class of five offensive linemen and while most will redshirt this season, Johnson had the talent to play right away. Still, offensive lineman often redshirt since it's a significant jump from high school to college for that position and while I'm sure he wanted to play, he also acknowledged a willingness to sit and redshirt as a freshman.
The dichotomy with skilled players such as Johnson is fascinating. Coaches can choose to play them right away and that position is best if a player is only going to be around for three seasons. After all, it's better to get something out of them for three years than only to have them on the field for two. On the flipside, a program is generally better off redshirting a player that will stay for all four seasons since they'll be more productive after having a year to sit back and learn. Johnson likely falls into the former and if he's NFL-bound after his junior year, it makes sense to play him.
I've never been a fan of guys skipping out on the opportunity of a redshirt and then being used sparingly. Chryst, though, seems like he wants him to get significant time on the field:
“It may differ from game to game, but certainly when we play a guy we want to make sure that we're committed enough to make it a worthwhile year for the young man.
Besides the fact that Johnson is good enough to deserve to play, him getting on the field in 2013 is also a benefit to next year's team. I still think Pitt is two years away from really making any noise in the ACC, but with Johnson getting experience this year, he'll have some games under his belt by next season when he could become a starter.
Oh yeah - and about that starting thing. It's a while off, but Pitt will have an interesting decision on their hands come next season. Adam Bisnowaty is starting this year opposite T.J. Clemmings and barring something strange, both will be back in 2014. Will Pitt keep DJ on the bench behind those two players? That's still up in the air but one thing to consider is that Pitt will lose a guard in Cory King. One of the three could move to the inside if the coaching staff is insistent upon starting all of them ... but that's another discussion for another time.