As we've reviewed a few times this summer, one position of strength for Pitt seems to be at running back. The Panthers lost James Conner but returned a stable of capable backs, including Qadree Ollison, the 2015 ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Ollison struggled to gain any traction last year. Part of that was because of the return of Conner but part was simply being beaten out on the depth chart. Ollison wasn't only topped by Conner for carries and yardage, but also by backups Darrin Hall and Chawntez Moss.
This year, though, Ollison seems to have the edge to be the team's starter. First, he looked good in spring practices. He was listed as the starter on the team's initial depth chart at ACC media days, earlier this month.
And at training camp, head coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed that (for now, at least), Ollison is the guy.
“We’re obviously excited," Narduzzi said. "We have a great backfield replacing James Conner. We’re looking forward, whether it’s Darrin Hall or Chawntez [Moss]. [Qadree] Ollison right now is leading the way I believe, at least after today. We’ll see what he did after today from the video, but I’m excited with what they are doing.”
We'll see how this plays out. I honestly thought that Moss was Pitt's top back early in the year until Conner got going. Moss did slow down a bit later but it's still surprising to see Ollison leapfrog both he and Hall when he (Ollison) was the fourth back last year.
All of that sort of speaks to the fluidity of the situation. When Conner was out in 2015, Narduzzi went back and forth quite a bit with Ollison, Hall, and Chris James, who was still here. I'm not still not sure we'll see a stranglehold on the job like Conner had when he was here and healthy but for now, Ollison is getting rave reviews. It will also be fun to see if one of the two freshmen, A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley, can get into the mix for carries.