NCF Nation: Greg Cross
PITTSBURGH -- Some observations from a beautiful spring day spent watching Pitt practice:
• The Panthers turned in a spirited, two-plus hour workout that included lots of 11-on-11 drills. The talent that Dave Wannstedt has assembled through recruiting is obvious, as this is a team chock full of athletes.
The big question mark remains at quarterback, and none of the three contenders had a great day. Part of the blame can be placed on a blustery wind that made long throws an adventure, but the quarterbacks struggled to complete passes even in skeleton drills. Bill Stull got the first-team snaps, with Pat Bostick on the second team and Tino Sunseri running the threes. Sunseri is the best athlete, but he's smaller in person than I expected. He's listed at 6-foot-2 but looks a good couple of inches shorter than Stull and Bostick, who are each listed at 6-3.
• Interesting developments on the offensive line. Alex Karabin, a junior walk-on who played primarily on the kicking unit last year, took the first-team reps at center. Robb Houser started there the first seven games of 2008 before breaking his ankle. Houser was playing on the second team. Sophomore Chris Jacobsen got a lot of run today with the first-string as well.
• Wannstedt told me earlier in the day that he was preparing to use a committee approach at running back this year. But true freshman Dion Lewis, who enrolled in January, got most of the looks with the first team and could very well end up as the starter there. He's explosive and made some nice plays in the passing game. The run of the day, though, came from Shariff Harris, who dashed up the middle almost untouched for a 45-yard touchdown.
• Greg Cross has been moved to receiver and had a long touchdown catch on a busted coverage. The Panthers are deep at wideout, even with T.J. Porter currently suspended. Aundre Wright is lightning quick.
• Watching Aaron Berry and Jonathan Baldwin match up was a lot of fun. Each has a chance to be the best in the Big East at his position this fall.
• Defensive end Greg Romeus isn't going through contact drills right now because of a back problem, and after practice defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was busting his chops for missing so much practice time. "You might end up as a three technique," Bennett joked.
• Basketball coach Jamie Dixon watched practice from the sidelines, less than a week after his team's heartbreaking, last-second loss to Villanova in the Elite Eight.
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
LeSean McCoy's mother said the family is awaiting a report from the NFL draft advisory board before making a decision on his future, Kevin Gorman writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"LeSean does love being there. He loves Pitt and loves the football team. I know he wants to be there," Daphne McCoy said. "But he's 20. At 20 years old, you don't always know what's good for you.
"For right now, it looks like he'll be back next year. If the report tells us anything different, we'll see if he should come out at this time."
• Among the assorted items from Dave Wannstedt's season-ending news conference, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Paul Zeise: Quarterbacks Kevan Smith and Greg Cross have asked to change positions, and the staff is looking at using Smith at tight end and Cross at safety; freshmen Lucas Nix and Chris Jacobson will play big roles on the offensive line in '09; and Steve Dell, Max Gruder and Brandon Lindsay will battle to replace Scott McKillop.
• West Virginia kicker Pat McAfee got an invite to the Senior Bowl, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.
• A one-time Rutgers commit is now going to Cal, The Star-Ledger reports.
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
• Louisville is trying to fix its run defense before facing LeSean McCoy on Saturday, C.L Brown writes in The Courier-Journal.
• The Cardinals' own running game may pose problems for Pitt, Paul Zeise writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Panthers have been using the Wildcat formation with McCoy, but Greg Cross still can't get off the bench, Kevin Gorman writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
• West Virginia receiver Dorrell Jalloh wants to go into broadcasting and help kids prepare for college after his playing days are done, Mike Casazza writes in the Charleston Daily Mail.
• Cincinnati kicker Jake Rogers lost his job after missing a couple of extra points in the first game. He worked his way back, and hasn't missed a kick since. Bill Koch has the story in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
• Rutgers is looking for more consistent production from its tight ends, Aditi Kinkhabwala says in the Bergen Record.
• Fullback Tony Fiammetta is the glue to the Orange offense, Dave Rahme writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard. He can also play tight end or H-back and might have a future at the next level.
• South Florida got a rare commitment from a New Jersey recruit, Greg Auman writes in the St. Petersburg Times. The Bulls hardly ever leave their own state for players.
Traveling to Tampa today, where I'll be covering South Florida-Kansas tonight at the pirate ship. So, posts will be light until game time but I will have a feature on Syracuse QB Cam Dantley a little later.
Now, onto the links, starting with Rutgers, where the sun did in fact rise this morning after last night's embarrassing loss.
- Greg Schiano did a wonderful job building Rutgers from almost nothing. But Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi says now, with everything in place, Schiano has to prove he can coach after this 0-2 start. As Schiano wrote:
"Now what, Greg?
Because the truth after this abomination of a 44-12 loss to North Carolina Thursday night is this: The 0-2 start falls squarely on the head coach. We will learn this season if Schiano can do more than build a program. We will find out if Schiano can actually coach a consistent winner, too, because the early returns in 2008 are not promising, to put it nicely.
"I would wait to see how this team turns out before you say it's a flop, because I don't think it will be," Schiano insisted when this one finally ended, which is easier to say with Navy and Morgan State up next on the schedule. His Scarlet Knights have given no reason for long-term optimism, and a brutal October could derail much of the progress his program has made the past two years.
To think, Michigan hoping Schiano would leave Piscataway last winter to take the reins in Ann Arbor. Right now, Eastern Michigan wouldn't bring him in for an interview. He has coached some bad teams in his eight seasons, but this is entirely different."
- Running back Kordell Young didn't play last night because of knee soreness, Tom Luicci reports. And backup defensive end Gary Watts is out for the year.
- Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times says USF defensive end George Selvie is getting the star treatment: double- and triple-teams and everything else to keep him from recording a sack this season.
"He's taking up two blockers, and a lot of times, he's just a step away from getting a sack," defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. "They're doing special schemes on him, and he's still succeeding. If people sprint away from him, what's he going to do?"
- Greg Robinson is a defensive guy. But since he arrived at Syracuse, the Orange have been miserable defensively, Dave Rahme writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard.
- Elijah Fields could take over as starting strong safety at Pittsburgh, Ray Fittipaldo notes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He played more snaps than starter Dom DeCicco against Buffalo. This notebook also includes word that Greg Cross might get a look at QB.
- Louisville offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm has decided to move to the coaches' box upstairs instead of being down on the field, C.L. Brown writes in The Courier-Journal.
- UConn backup guard Alex LaMagdelaine is out for the season after shoulder surgery, Desmond Conner writes in the Hartford Courant.
- West Virginia's offensive line is looking for redemption after their poor performance against East Carolina, Dave Hickman says in the Charleston Gazette.