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Pitt set to return entire offensive line in 2022

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Carter Warren, Marcus Minor, Owen Drexel and Gabe Houy are all set to return to Pitt in 2022 and rejoin Jake Kradel on the line

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 23 Clemson at Pitt Photo by Michael Longo/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pitt landed USC transfer Kedon Slovis as a successor to Kenny Pickett at quarterback on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday morning, the program announced that the entire offensive line would be back in 2022 to block for the former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

“They’re all back in 2022,” the announcement from Pitt read, referring to Carter Warren, Marcus Minor, Owen Drexel and Gabe Houy. All four of the linemen are listed as redshirt seniors and are able to return for another season as a result of the extra year of eligibility that was extended to athletes by the NCAA in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four starting linemen will be joined by fellow starter Jake Kradel, who is currently a redshirt junior. Warren, Houy and Kradel all have three years of experience starting on Pitt’s line and have been key contributors for the program since 2019. In 2021, they were joined by Drexel, who stepped in as the successor to Jimmy Morrissey at center, and Marcus Minor, who transferred from Maryland and seized the starting job at left guard.

Pitt had already stocked its offensive line with talent for years to come, with players like Ryan Baer, Matt Goncalves, Branson Taylor and Blake Zubovic ready to step in when the upperclassmen departed. But with that transition, there was likely to be a drop-off in play as the new unit developed chemistry. That problem will be eliminated with all the starters returning, and Slovis will have at least one season behind a line of proven contributors.

The return of the four linemen should provide Slovis with a great opportunity to perform at his best, and with Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison and All-American Gavin Batholomew at his disposal as pass-catchers and Israel Abanikanda and Rodney Hammond waiting in the wings to break off big plays out of the backfield, Pitt should once again have a loaded and balanced offense in 2022.