Pitt released yesterday that Paul Chryst has suspended Titus Howard for the 2014 season. No reason was given for the suspension, but Howard will remain with the team and will be able to participate in practice, just no game time. Paul Chryst is no stranger to these types of situations, as he suspended Khaynin Mosley-Smith and Ronald Jones for the entire 2013 season. The Howard suspension falls just days before the players report to Fall camp, as practice officially starts on Monday.
Pitt losing Howard is big on many levels. Not only was Howard pegged as a starter, but some have thought he passed up Lafayette Pitts as the top corner on the roster. Howard appeared in eleven games last season, and was one of many true freshmen to make an impact last season. Titus Howard is supposed to be one of the cornerstones of this Pitt defense moving forward, as he was one of four sophomores expected to start. So certainly on a talent level, the suspension really puts Pitt in a bind.
Not only was Howard possibly the best corner on the team, he was one of the only few. Pitt is now down to four scholarship cornerbacks heading into camp Monday. Lafayette Pitts will assume the role of the starter, and it would appear Trenton Coles will get a starting spot. Behind the two assumed starters, only a pair of true freshmen sit on the current depth chart. Phillipie Motley and Avonte Maddox will both get their chance to see some action 2014. Both players come in as solid recruits, but neither were blue chips.
The trickle down effect of Howard being suspended, means the shuffling of positions. Now with Ejuan Price going down with an injury, and Howard's suspension; Pitt has 80 scholarship players heading into Fall camp on Monday. Pitt only has four active corners, so a few players without homes may find some quickly. Reggie Mitchell, a Wisconsin transfer vying for the starting Safety job, could be one to consider a move to corner. Another true freshman could move into the mix like Patrick Amara. The unofficial spokesman for the freshman class just seems like someone that will find his way on the field one way or another this season. To perhaps make up for a pair from the Safety spot shifting, maybe some running backs could make the move. Dennis Briggs seems like he could be stuck behind some really good backs, and Rachid Ibrahim may have that same problem. At least one of those guys could make that shift fairly quickly after camp begins.
Now after discussing Pitt's corresponding moves, it is time to consider Howard. Paul Chryst is a pretty strict, yet fair disciplinarian. The third year Pitt coach has not been afraid to stand up to star players like Rushel Shell, star recruits like Travon Chapman, or the whole way down to backups like Ronald Jones and Mosley-Smith. Throughout his tenure here, Chryst punishes those who deserve it, no matter what their name is. Obviously in a case like this, Chryst still feels Howard deserves another chance. I hope the young man from Clairton can look to players like Ronald Jones and Mosley-Smith and see how they sat out games last year, but remained with the team. Now both of those players have some important roles heading into 2014. A year long suspension is tough, but it can be a learning experience. Howard was supposed to be one of the stars of this young team, perhaps he can be one next season.