Early in the season after star running back James Conner went down with a season-ending injury, along with Tyler Boyd, quarterback Chad Voytik and running back Chris James looked to lead the Pitt offense. Now, it appears that both could be leaving the program.
As announced earlier in the week, Voytik has apparently had some discussions with head coach Pat Narduzzi about leaving. Now, James appears gone as well:
Add a third transfer: it sounds like RB Chris James is leaving the #Pitt program.— Chris Peak (@PantherLair) December 12, 2015
Similar to Voytik's expected departure, the idea of James leaving was never far-fetched. The Panthers had a crowded backfield this year and James was sort of forced out of the mix with the emergence of redshirt freshman Qadree Ollison. By season's end, true freshman Darrin Hall looked to be the team's backup, relegating James to third string. That crowded situation wasn't changing anytime soon, as I touched on recently. The freshman will return and Rachid Ibrahim will be back as well after missing this season. Who knows about the James Conner situation and don't forget that Pitt seems intent on finding carries for safety Jordan Whitehead as a two-way player. There's just not much room for James at this point.
It's disappointing whenever you lose some depth, but in the grand scheme of things, Pitt still projects just fine at running back with a trio of Ollison, Hall, and Ibrahim.
The good news for him is that if he does leave, he should be able to find a job quickly. He was an admirable backup to Conner last season and with a career yard-per-carry average of close to 5.0, he's capable of producing.