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State of the Roster: Defensive End

Breaking down the defensive ends for Pitt football for 2016.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt will look to bring an even better pass rush than they did in 2015. It looks like that may be a reality with their most talented starting duo of defensive ends since perhaps the 2010 pair of Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard. Ejuan Price was granted a sixth year of eligibility this off-season, and it really gave a boost to the whole team. They also welcome Dewayne Hendrix to the team after he sat out last season due to a transfer.

Projected Starters

-- Ejuan Price 6'0" 255 Senior. 2015 Stats - 19.5 TFL, 11.5 Sacks, 48 Tackles.

-- Dewayne Hendrix 6'4" 260 Sophomore  2015 Stats - N/A

Ejuan Price returns for his sixth season as a member of the Pitt football team. The Woodland Hills' product is coming off his best season yet with 19.5 tackles for loss, and he was seemingly a fixture in the opposition's backfield. Price has overcome multiple injuries in his career, and was finally able to shine in 2015. Price was an all ACC pick last season for his production. His five-sack game against Louisville drew national attention and many top performance of the week awards.

Starting opposite Price will be highly regarded transfer, Dewayne Hendrix. The former Tennessee Volunteer enters the Pitt program with high expectations. Hendrix was once a four-star prospect with over 20 scholarship offers from many national programs such as Ohio State, Ole Miss, and Florida. He managed to appear in seven games in 2014 for Tennessee as a true freshman.

Top Reserves

-- Rori Blair 6'4" 245 Junior / 2015 Stats - 25 Tackles, 3.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks

-- Allen Edwards 6'4" 245 Junior / 2015 Stats - N/A

-- James Folston 6'3" 245 Sophomore / 2015 stats - 2 Tackles, .5 Tackles for Loss

Rori Blair started 10 games last season as a sophomore, and started two as a freshman in 2014. He is a very experienced backup and will see his fair share of snaps rotating in for the top two guys.  Blair has been good enough to be a starter for Pitt, but has never given them serious production for a full season. He has shown flashes in his career and has made some big plays, but has gone silent other times. Perhaps in a lessened role he can give them maximum effort when he is in the game.

Allen Edwards sat out last season as he took a redshirt. The Junior College transfer did not come to Pitt with much fanfare recruiting wise, but is expected to provide depth to this year's team. Depth has been sorely lacking at this spot for years now, and perhaps Edwards can help solidify a solid top grouping at the end spot.

James Folston initially was recruited was a linebacker, but poor numbers from the defensive line forced him to end last season.  Folston played sparingly in 2015, appearing in just five games.  He will have every opportunity to play more in 2015 as he will compete with Edwards for the fourth spot on the two-deep depth chart.

The Freshmen

-- Patrick Jones II 6'5" 250 pounds

-- Zack Gilbert 6'1" 245 pounds

-- Rashad Weaver 6'5" 255 pounds

Pitt hit the recruiting trail hard last season in terms of adding defensive talent. Pat Narduzzi was able to sign three defensive ends in the 2016 class. All three players will likely redshirt, but due to the thin numbers an injury or two could press one of these players into game action. The most likely to see the field would likely be Patrick Jones II. He enrolled early and participated in Spring football. He has a leg up on the other two, but again it would take some serious injuries to get him on the field.

Zack Gilbert is built more like Ejuan Price as a smaller player in stature. In fact some think he could possibly add weight and move to defensive tackle at some point in his career.  Gilbert is the son of former Panther great, Sean Gilbert. Rashad Weaver's recruiting story was front and center as Jim Harbaugh essentially pulled his scholarship in favor of a more talented player after he was committed to Michigan for a year. Pitt was opportunistic and added Weaver late in the recruiting cycle.  Weaver is another player that could either bulk up and play inside, or even move to tight end.  He's versatile, and the coaches will likely sort out his position during his redshirt year.