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Pitt Football: Is Zach Brown Pitt's X-Factor?

When Zac Brown Zach Brown decided to transfer to Pitt, it seemed like the Panthers were going to have the change of pace back they needed. Brown was reportedly a bruising runner who could spell Ray Graham when needed and perhaps contribute as a third-down back.

Yeah, um, so that might not exactly be the case.

Take this for what it's worth, but Brown looks to be competing for more than that. For starters, the PG's Paul Zeise has taken notice of him in camp and says there's more to him than just being a bruiser:

Again, no pads, only shirts and t-shirts, but here is a guy I really like a lot - Wisconsin transfer Zach Brown - I think he can add a lot to this team. He is fast, faster than I thought, has quick feet and to me, looks like a guy who nobody really wants to tackle when he gets rolling. And he catches the ball well out of the backfield as well.

Now don't get confused - Brown himself says he's more of a tough runner and no one would know better than him:

"I have confidence and experience. I know I can play the game. I'm more between the tackles and more of a bruising back, where Ray [Graham] can make a man miss," Brown said.

But he could be bringing more to the table than simply chipping in here and there.

So, could Brown conceivably start over Graham?


He says that's the goal:

"Ray has the most experience right now with Pittsburgh," Brown said. "But we are all trying to be that guy."

That obviously shouldn't surprise anyone. You could run right down the list from Ray Graham all the way down to the last guy in the rotation and I'd expect them all to publicly say it.

Brown chose Pitt over other schools including Miami. As I wrote when he first came, part of that was probably due to Miami's crowded backfield. He confirmed that sentiment recently:

"I did some research and looked around and saw that Pitt only had one running back on scholarship and that they were going to run this high-octane offense, so it seemed like a great fit," said Brown, who said outside linebackers coach Randall McCray, who coached at Wisconsin from 2006-09, helped the process.

And about that whole competing thing, Calvin Magee thinks it will be a strong competition:

"He has a lot of experience, he has good ball skills, he understands how to be a strong runner so he can break some tackles and do some of the power stuff. And to be honest, I envision him being a guy who is competing with Ray for the job and I know we will use both of them."

Still, Brown is probably the only guy capable of pushing Graham ... well, at least a little bit. Truthfully, I don't expect him to challenge Graham much. Ray challenged Dion Lewis last season and in a full-time role, should easily be a 1,000-yard rusher. Brown may have loads of potential to help this season, but still couldn't find his way into a lot of playing time at Wisconsin.

That said, I'm glad he's around and his presence is definitely needed this season without much experience in the backfield. Brown seems like he could come in and complement Graham extremely well, while making a few plays along the way.