One of the biggest strengths of this Pitt Panthers football team should be the offensive line. Pitt has a talented and veteran unit that should pave the way for a successful offense. Many of these guys have pro aspirations and have lived up to their lofty recruiting rankings. If Pitt is going anywhere this season, the offensive line is going to have a big say in it. Once again, I checked in with MarkRogersTV to do a video preview for this position.
LT - Adam Bisnowaty 6'6" 305 Senior
LG - Dorian Johnson 6'5" 315 Senior
C - Alex Officer 6'4" 335 Junior
RG - Brian O'Neill 6'6" 300 Sophomore
RT - Jaryd Jones-Smith 6'7" 335 Junior
Pitt has a very talented unit here and one of the most experienced in the nation. There are 97 starts between the five man group. The left side in particular is one of the best, if not the best in the country. Adam Bisnowaty is coming off an All-ACC campaign and is already on the Outland Trophy watch list. He is on a number of different preseason All American teams, and is garnering some early 2017 draft hype. Dorian Johnson is another big time player. The former five star recruit has started the past 26 games at left guard for the Panthers. He, too, is on the Outland Trophy watch list. Like Bisnowaty, he is starting to generate some buzz for next Spring's NFL Draft.
Alex Officer will handle the center duties this season. He started all 13 games last season at right guard, but did make 10 starts in 2014 at center filling in for the injured Artie Rowell. He was named to the Rimington watch list, which is awarded to the best center in the country. Officer is experienced and versatile.
The right side of the line is not quite as experienced, but it is not short on talent. Jaryd Jones-Smith returns after a year long injury, and may very well hop right into the starting lineup. Jones-Smith is a massive presence, but showed a lot of ability in 2014. He appeared in all 13 games, and started three of those contests. Brian O'Neill filled in for Jones-Smith last season, and many came away impressed with his performance after converting from tight end. O'Neil started 12 of the 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman.
LT - Aaron Reese 6'5" 310 Junior
LG - John Guy 6'7" 310 Senior
C - Connor Dintino 6'3" 310 Sophomore
RG - Mike Herndon 6'4" 315 Sophomore
RT - Alex Bookser 6'6" 315 Sophomore
Pitt's starting offensive line is very talented, but depth may be a concern overall. The second unit may have some talent, but it is mostly unproven. In the event of an injury to any of the starters, Alex Bookser would be the next man up to play. He is the sixth man of sorts, and is capable of playing tackle, guard or center. So while there are backups for all of the positions, it would likely be Bookser to get the spot. Bookser will rotate with the starters either way, and should see a considerable amount of playing time. He started 2 games and appeared in all 13 contests last season.
Connor Dintino and Mike Herndon were actually both recruited as defensive linemen under Paul Chryst, but the new regime moved them to the offensive side of the ball. Both guys were used primarily in special teams blocking, but could see more action this season. Dintino was actually used in jumbo packages as a fullback in goal line situations.
John Guy and Aaron Reese are both veterans that have seen their playing time mostly as special teams blockers. Their spots on the two-deep depth chart could be challenged by some younger players.
-- Carson Baker 6'5" 320 Junior
-- Mike Grimm 6'6" 320 Sophomore
-- Alex Paulina 6'3" 315 Freshman
-- Tony Pilato 6'5" 320 Freshman
-- Jusitn Morgan 6'6" 365 Freshman
-- Brandon Ford 6'5" 300 Freshman
-- Alex Galiyas 6'2" 290 Sophomore
-- Aaron Britton 6'5" 280 Freshman
-- Kyle Benbrook 6'3" 295 Freshman
Carson Baker played most of last season on special teams, and should compete for a spot on the two deep depth chart. He is entering his fourth year in the program. Mike Grimm is another intriguing name to keep track of this season. He was once a highly-rated recruit, but has yet to crack the top of the depth chart. Perhaps that changes this season.
Alex Paulina and Tony Pilato are coming off redshirt seasons. Neither player is expected to crack the depth chart as of right now. Both players are local WPIAL products, and Pilato in particular intrigues me with his size and athleticism.
Brandon Ford and Justin Morgan are true freshmen, and likely will redshirt this season. Ford is a local product, while Morgan hails from Brooklyn. Morgan has a massive frame, and could potentially follow the same path as Jaryd Jones-Smith. Zack Williams was also supposed to be here this season, but it sounds like he will be heading to prep school, although he is listed on the official roster.
Galiyas, Britton, and Benbrook are the three walk-ons of the group. Galiyas is entering his third year in the program. The three of these players have yet to appear in any games.