After battling a lingering injury from his senior year in high school, Damar Hamlin may get a chance to see the field this Saturday when Pitt travels to Virginia.
After Avonte Maddox sustained what looked like a wrist injury versus Georgia Tech, Pitt's depth at cornerback becomes a concern moving forward for likely at least the next few games. Dane Jackson, a RS freshman, was plugged into action after Maddox went down, and did OK. He has better size than Maddox, but didn't have the ball skills to prevent some of the passes thrown his way.
Maddox is still listed as the starter for Saturday, but the consensus seems to be that he'll miss a few games. Even with Maddox listed as the starter, however, both Damar Hamlin and freshman Therran Coleman are listed on the 2-deep. Hamlin was expected to compete with Maddox or Ryan Lewis for a starting cornerback coming into training camp, but lingering issues from a high school injury/off season surgery seemed to be keeping him out (and I think Maddox and Lewis were better than people give them credit for). About two weeks ago, it seemed Hamlin was getting close to being fully healthy, as he's dressed for the last couple of games.
To speak briefly on Coleman, I think he has a very high ceiling, and will be great for Pitt after some time. He's a better physical specimen than Hamlin, but I don't think he's quite as polished. Hamlin drew praise for being a perfect fit for Narduzzi's defense.
The main question Narduzzi faces now is if it's worth it to burn Hamlin's redshirt halfway through the year. I'm normally a proponent of doing whatever you can to preserve redshirts to allow players to mature. However, certain situations arise that make it necessary to just burn them and use the talent you have available. Dorian Johnson starting as a true frosh OL comes to mind when the OL situation was very bad with Chryst early on. In light of Pitt's struggles versus the pass, and now Maddox's injury, I think this is a great time to get guys like Hamlin (or Coleman, if the coaches think he's more prepared) into play. The Virginia game is a good candidate this late in the season for a freshman to get his feet wet.