Pitt will at least have a little more experience in the backfield come this season with the news that former Wisconsin running back Zach Brown plans to enroll at the school.
The Panthers are awaiting final paperwork before making the official announcement, but this is clearly good news for a program that had Ray Graham as its only scholarship running back on the spring roster. Some might question what this will ultimately mean for Pitt because Brown did not exactly light up the stat sheet over the past three seasons with the Badgers.
After a promising freshman campaign, Brown's playing time slowly diminished his sophomore and junior seasons. Last season, he redshirted because the Badgers were loaded at the running back position with John Clay, Montee Ball and James White. Not much improved in his prospects for playing time in the spring, although he did tell the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel after the spring game, "I want to be that guy. I still have expectations on starting. I want to be the man."
Something obviously changed his mind, and there is no doubt he has a better chance to see extended playing time at Pittsburgh. At 5-foot-10 and 219 pounds, he most certainly has the capability of shouldering some of the load in the run game.
Brown has already graduated and only played for three seasons, so he will be immediately eligible. Regardless of what happened at Wisconsin, this is a fresh start for Brown, and one in which he can prove to be a valuable addition to what Ray Graham brings. Behind Graham, there is total inexperience and uncertainty. You have walk-on Desmond Brown and then the four incoming true freshmen: Isaac Bennett, Jeremiah Bryson, Malcolm Crockett and Corey Davis.
At least Brown has some game experience against some excellent competition in the Big Ten. Even with Brown, there is no question the true freshmen are going to have every opportunity to see the field, too, simply because depth is such a problem. Every team needs to go at least three-deep in its backfield to feel comfortable, and to be sure not to totally wear out the starter. Two-back systems have been the answer in many places.
All four freshmen running backs have reported and are on campus. In fact, every freshman is there minus defensive back Jevonte Pitts, who is most likely headed the prep school route.