Things keep rolling along with our preseason position previews. Today I will be talking about the tight end position. It will be a new look for the Panthers this season as they will be without four year starter, J.P. Holtz. Holtz was one of the rocks of the program the past four seasons, and his presence will be sorely missed. While many felt he was underutilized in the passing game, he was normally sure handed when called upon, and added a great blocking presence.
Projected Starter - Scott Orndoff 6'5" 255 Senior / 2015 Stats - 13 catches, 244 yards, 5 touchdowns
Scoutt Orndoff has paid his dues, and will now enter the 2016 as a full-time starter. Orndoff, a local product, has played a lot of meaningful snaps in his career, but has always been the backup to Holtz. Pitt should be in good hands with him as the starter. The issue here, however, will be the depth behind him. Pitt has not recruited the tight end position well in recent years, and an injury to Orndoff could really change the complexion of the team.
Orndoff has eight career touchdowns on 23 receptions. He has always shown the ability to be a weapon on offense, but Pitt's usage of the tight has been inconsistent. It will be noteworthy to watch how Matt Canada finds way to get Orndoff the ball. The one thing that could lack in his game is blocking.
Top Reserve - Jaymar Parrish 6'2" 270 Senior 2015 stats: 1 catch, 3 yards
Jaymar Parrish played his first two seasons as a fullback under Paul Chryst. He was moved to a tight end/H-Back kind of role last season. Parrish's playing time went down under the new staff, and he finds himself without a true role or position it seems.
With a fullback background, Parrish is not a true downfield threat to go out and catch passes. He can make plays in the flats, but it's hard to envision him really running routes downfield. He should add blocking help in certain packages.
-- Devon Edwards 6'4" 255 Junior
-- Zach Poker 6'4" 240 Junior
-- Nate Bossory 6'3" 235 Sophomore
-- Drew Schifino 6'2" 235 Freshman
-- Chris Clark 6'6" 255 Sophomore
Devon Edwards has appeared in 15 career games, mostly as a special teams player and en extra blocking tight end. Most of those games he appeared in occurred in 2014, so it's fair to say this staff hasn't found a way to use him just yet. Due to the thinness of the position, he will be in line for more playing time it would appear.
Zach Poker is a converted defensive end appearing in 10 career games. He endured an injury early last October and it forced him to miss the rest of the season. It's hard to gauge how he will translate to offense.
Nate Bossory and Drew Schifino are two walk-ons that add depth. Chris Clark is a highly touted player that will have to sit out this season. He comes here from UCLA, and he has a bit of a wild story. His recruitment initially took many twists and turns out of high school before he settled on the Bruins. He played one game in LA before opting to transfer, and once again his second recruitment had some wildness to it. In the end, he's a Panther and should be the unquestioned starter in 2017.