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Potential 2017 Pitt Football Breakout Players?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN broached this topic last month that I never got around to covering here. But I wanted to mention it since I thought it was something worth discussing.

The site tabbed Chawntez Moss as a potential breakout player for the football team, which makes sense. Moss, at least in a few games, looked like Pitt's best running back at times until James Conner really started to get going (Conner, you might remember, also said he was only about 60% at the start of the season). His best game came against Marshall (12 carries for 97 yards) but he also turned in decent performances against North Carolina and Georgia Tech.

I do think Moss is primed for a decent year but there's just no way to predict how much he'll be able to do with such a deep backfield. He could be the legit starter and he could also probably be as far down as third on the depth chart.

If I had to pick one guy, it might be Moss. But it also might be defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, who missed most of last season with a foot injury. Hendrix was recruited as one of the top defensive ends in the nation and should regain his starting spot. The question is, how will he respond?

For one thing, he's barely played any college football at all. He suited up for for about half of Tennessee's games in 2014 as a freshman, but sat out 2015 due to the transfer to Pitt and played only a few series last year in the opener before his injury. It will be about three years since he's had any real action when the team plays this fall and he's coming off of an injury.

There are still a lot of other potentials here, too. Damar Hamlin's freshman year didn't go quite as planned and he played in only a few games making little impact. His second year has to be better almost by default but will he necessarily be a breakout player? Chris Clark is another. With Scott Orndoff graduating, Pitt is looking for a new tight end. Clark was the former No. 1 tight end recruit in his class and could have a big year after sitting out last season due to his transfer here. Will one of Pitt's young defensive tackles have a big season? What about Elijah Zeise at linebacker who, like Hendrix, was injured in the team's opener? One of the freshmen running backs? And after seeing quarterback Nathan Peterman excel here, is a big year by USC transfer Max Browne out of the question? There are surely others, too.

You could make an argument for any number of guys to have breakout years, really. Who are the ones you are watching the most?

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