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James Folston, Jr. moving from linebacker to defensive end for Pitt

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

James Folston, Jr. redshirted as a true freshman linebacker last season. This year, he'll try his hand at a new position - defensive end.

Head coach Pat Narduzzi made the call on his own, actually - something I found a little interesting. The move wasn't announced until Tuesday, but he made the decision months ago.

"I think the coaches were on the road when I made the Folston move [from linebacker to defensive end]," Narduzzi said. "They were out there and I was just looking at the depth chart alone in my office, because the head coach can't go out there in May, and I said, ‘We've got to move that guy.' I'm just looking at where we have people."

So why the move? Narduzzi says where he stood on the depth chart was a factor. "[Folston] is athletic enough to play middle linebacker, but mentally can he be everything he needs to be to beat the guys in front of him right now? Probably not."

Then there's the speed, Narduzzi added.

"He's too good of a player. He's explosive, he's powerful. When you look at him out there, he's done a nice job in shorts, so we'll see what happens when we get pads on. We're going to have to put speed on the edge. Speed kills. We need guys that can run off the edge and obviously be able to pressure the quarterback with some of our blitzes."

The move isn't a completely new one for him. As the Trib notes, he played some defensive end in high school. He's also reportedly gained 18 pounds to help with the move. Folston picked the Panthers over Minnesota and South Florida before sitting out last year as a freshman.

While I don't like seeing guys bounced from position to position without ever finding a true home, I'll always be in favor of these types of switches. At middle linebacker, Pitt has Matt Galambos and Quintin Wirginis ahead of Folston and that position could be locked up for the next three years. There's no sense in not playing a guy with the kind of speed Narduzzi believes he has - particularly where there could be opportunities for him to play on a questionable defensive line.

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