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Pitt releases 2019 preseason depth chart

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Paris Ford is listed as a first-time starter, and a two position battles are brewing

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 Sun Bowl - Stanford v Pitt Photo by Jorge Salgado/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2019 college football season is set to get underway in August, and in anticipation of that fact, Pitt released its preseason depth chart on Wednesday.

On offense, Kenny Pickett is slated to line up under center as the team’s starting quarterback for the second year in a row. However, who will serve as his backup is in question, as Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has listed Nick Patti “or” Jeff George Jr. as the second-stringer.

Last October, Narduzzi said that George was “the guy” behind Pickett, and he placed him above Ricky Town, who has since left the team. Beyond that, little was known about the hierarchy of the team’s signal-callers. That makes the emergence of Patti intriguing, as that seems to signal either significant progress on his part or regression on the part of George.

The offensive line is currently bookended by sophomores Carter Warren and Gabe Houy, who have one start between the two of them. However, Michigan graduate transfer Nolan Ulizio is not listed and could end up in one of those spots. The interior of the line seems more certain, as Bryce Hargrove and Jimmy Morrissey played key roles last year and both occupy starter slots. Meanwhile, Chase Brown is the only senior set to start in the trenches.

Morrissey’s return is a major development for Pitt. His absence due to injury toward the end of last season visibly hindered the team, as the offense averaged 40.8 points and 518.3 yards per game in his last four contests. In Pitt’s final three games of the season, all of which were played without Morrissey, the Panthers averaged 8.7 points and 247.7 yards.

His comeback should also ease Pitt’s transition from Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall at running back to A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley. Notably, Davis is listed as the starter, and as a largely untested former four-star recruit in the 2017 class who chose Pitt over Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas, many are curious to see what he can do.

Pitt’s receiving corps will be led by starters Taysir Mack, Maurice Ffrench and Tre Tipton. Grant Carrigan is listed as the team’s top tight end, but that is likely to change, as Rutgers graduate transfer Nakia Griffin-Stewart is unaccounted for on the current depth chart.

The major development defensively for Pitt is that Paris Ford is listed as a starter for the first time in his collegiate career. He will play opposite Damar Hamlin at strong safety, forming a duo of local blue chips. Ford came to Pitt from Steel Valley High School, and Hamlin is a product of Central Catholic High School. Like Hamlin, Ford was a coveted four-star recruit and a top-15 safety in his class, and he is expected to make a significant impact.

There are no surprises at cornerback, as both Dane Jackson and Jason Pinnock will return as starters. However, the linebacking corps will feature Phil Campbell, Saleem Brightwell and Chase Pine, who have five combined starts between them. Former starter Elias Reynolds is listed behind Brightwell at the “Mike” spot.

On the defensive line, Amir Watts and Rashad Weaver will return as starters. Weaver was especially impactful last season, as he led the team in sacks, with 6.5, and tackles for loss, with 14.0. Further down the line, Patrick Jones is penciled in as a starter at defensive end, and a battle is brewing for the second defensive tackle spot between Jaylen Twyman and Keyshon Camp. Like Patti and George at quarterback, Twyman and Camp are separated on the depth chart by an “or.”

The special teams pecking order is largely unchanged, as Alex Kessman will once again handle kicking duties, Kirk Christodoulou is set to assume Pitt’s punter role again, Cal Adomitis will return as the starting long-snapper, and Ffrench will serve as the team’s return specialist. Of note is the fact that Ffrench is listed as a punt return specialist in addition to his role as a kick return specialist. That role was filled by Rafael Araujo-Lopes last season and has the potential to change hands.

With that said, this early in the year, the same holds true for most positions on the team, as the pecking order at each spot is bound to shift to some degree during training camp.

Pitt's full depth chart can be viewed below.

...

OFFENSE

...

Quarterback

1. Kenny Pickett

2. Nick Patti or Jeff George Jr.

...

Running back

1. A.J. Davis

2. Todd Sibley Jr.

...

Wide receiver 1

1. Taysir Mack

2. Aaron Mathews

...

Wide receiver 2

1. Maurice Ffrench

2. Dontavius Butler-Jenkins

...

Wide receiver 3

1. Tre Tipton

2. Shocky Jacques-Louis

...

Tight end

1. Grant Carrigan

2. Will Gragg

...

Left tackle

1. Carter Warren

2. Carson Van Lynn

...

Left guard

1. Bryce Hargrove

2. Brandon Ford

...

Center

1. Jimmy Morrissey

2. Jake Kradel

...

Right guard

1. Chase Brown

2. Rashad Wheeler

...

Right tackle

1. Gabe Houy

2. Blake Zubovic

...

DEFENSE

...

Strong safety

1. Paris Ford

2. Bricen Garner

...

Free safety

1. Damar Hamlin

2. Jazzee Stocker

...

Cornerback 1

1. Dane Jackson

2. Damarri Mathis

...

Cornerback 2

1. Jason Pinnock

2. Marquis Williams

...

Linebacker (Money)

1. Chase Pine

2. Kyle Nunn

...

Linebacker (Mike)

1. Saleem Brightwell

2. Elias Reynolds

...

Linebacker (Star)

1. Phil Campbell III

2. Cam Bright

...

Defensive end 1

1. Rashad Weaver

2. John Morgan

...

Defensive end 2

1. Patrick Jones II

2. Deslin Alexandre

...

Defensive tackle 1

1. Amir Watts

2. Devin Danielson

...

Defensive tackle 2

1. Jaylen Twyman or Keyshon Camp

...

SPECIAL TEAMS

...

Placekicker

1. Alex Kessman

2. Jake Scarton

...

Kickoff specialist

1. Alex Kessman

2. Jake Scarton

...

Punter

1. Kirk Christodoulou

2. Ethan Van Buskirk

...

Long-snapper

1. Cal Adomitis

2. Jack Hansberry

...

Kick returner

1. Maurice Ffrench

2. Paris Ford

...

Punt returner

1. Maurice Ffrench

2. Paris Ford