Friday, February 6, 2015

A Look Ahead- Running Backs

This unit has both excellent talent and depth, led by 6'2" 250 pound All-American junior James Conner. All he did as a sophomore was run for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns.  That will be tough to duplicate, but new offensive coordinator James Chaney is smart enough to know that Conner has to get the ball a lot.

Because he is used so much, and there's only so many miles on every person's body, you'd have to assume that there's a good possibility that this would be Conner's last year in college. His heir apparent at the moment appears to be 5'10" 210 pound sophomore Chris James who had 437 rushing yards, a 5.0 average, and 4 touchdowns as a true freshman. He is different than the bullish Conner, and utilizes his topnotch speed and quickness. If he has developed enough over the offseason I can see Chaney giving him slightly more carries so that Conner could get some relief, but barring injury he will have to wait another year to get a large number of carries.

Last year's third down back, 6'1" 185 pound junior Rachid Ibrahim, is quietly impressive and should again play that role. Last season he had 263 yards rushing, an 8.0 average, and 11 catches. If the Panthers pass more this season Ibrahim may get more catches. That's a good thing because he usually makes a good play.

With three top players back at the position, it will again be hard for two redshirt freshmen, 6'2" 220 pound Qadree Ollison, and 5'10" 195 pound Dennis Briggs, to get any carries. Ollison has promise and could be in the mix to start when Conner moves on.

Incoming freshman Darrin Hall is solidly built at 6'0" and 205 pounds, and he's a good between the tackles runner with good speed and vision. He has a chance to be the starter some day but barring something drastic he will probably redshirt this season.

It remains to be seen how much Chaney will use a fullback. He did use one at Arkansas on almost half the plays, but that could be because he was running a very run heavy Bret Bielema offense. If he does use one, he may have the best one in the country in 6'2" 270 pound junior Jaymar Parrish, an athletic and brutish player who is a killer blocker. Parrish is athletic enough, especially if he loses some weight, that he can also move to tight end if Chaney wants.

Bottom line:  What a wonderful unit this has become. Not only is there an All-American in the group, but James has big time ability, Ibrahim is always effective, and if he plays fullback, Parrish is at an elite level as a blocker. And Hall has the pedigree to be the main horse some day.

The staff will likely look for an elite running back to bring in because, why not? One possibility could be Aliquippa's Kaezon Pugh, though he could also project as a linebacker.

Talent:

EXCELLENT
Very Good
Good
Average
Poor


Depth:

EXCELLENT
Very Good
Good
Average
Poor


18 comments:

  1. In the last decade or so, what skill position has Pitt been better at developing? WR or RB

    RB:
    Conner
    McCoy
    D. Lewis
    R. Graham
    L. Stephens-Howling

    WR:
    Boyd
    Street
    Shananan
    G. Lewis

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  2. Can Ollison play DE?

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    1. Not even a joke----take any good-sized, athletic specimens with some size on the team who won't be tops on the depth chart at their respective positions --- and make some insanely simple defensive roles for them with one.single.objective....get to the other quarterback and rip the ball out before he throws it!

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    2. Is that even a real question? Which group of those players are better lol?

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  3. Chaney is going to run a lot of SINGLE-Back. Conner is reportedly good with the change.

    PittofDreams

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  4. Chris, can you please touch on next years wpial kids and Panthers247. Karlo switched his pick from Pitt to PSU lately. Any reason why that might be? Also still predicting that Pugh goes to WVU. I would think with the buzz going on right now that you would wait for the dust to settle to predict where any kid from the wpial would decide to go without being tipped off strongly. Just knowing that coach Harley is going to go to their house at some point would give Pitt a 50/50 shot of getting any kid in the Wpial.

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    1. Switched who? As for Pugh, I'd be surprised if he didn't go to Pitt unless his grades force him to WVU.

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    2. Sorry just realized I missed it. Hamlin. Switched it right after petrishen committed to psu. Didn't know if it was a knee jerk reaction or if there was a reason many are picking him to go to psu now. I think a team next year with 8 or 9 wins along with some excitement and obviously stellar recruiters should be able to pull a chunk of wpial talent to pitt. Also is the new strategy to kick the wheels on all big time talent around the country? Can't get them if you don't offer.....if you even get one or two that's huge for this program.

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    3. Pugh is a LB.
      Just ask his coaches.

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    4. With central catholic specifically, I think one that works against Pitt is that it's literally down the block. Now certainly being close to home helps too, but it would have taken a whole world of persuasion to get me to go to college next to my HS. I would have wanted a new experience. It's not like CV or Bethel Park or something where it's close bit new. This isn't an excuse, but something to consider.

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    5. It's something that I've thought of a lot. I think I would want to get a bit further away, too, to be honest. You want to at least get out of your neighborhood to go to college.

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    6. Central Catholic is in Oakland, but most its players are from many different places around Pittsburgh. Hamlin is from McKees Rocks. Petrishen is from Lower Burrell.

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    7. Yes but you're already familiar with the the campus and neighborhood. There would be nothing new about being a student at Pitt coming from CC.

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  5. This might sound a bit out there, but Pitt should pull in the best DB's across the country, let alone the WPIAL. Just look at the NFL Draft lately. There are plenty of Michigan State DB's starting to dot NFL rosters due in part to Nard & Co.

    Three star DB's to PSU, four stars to Pitt! Hamlin may be smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors. I don't think Pitt went as hard after Petrishen after getting Stocker in the fold. Stocker has a better upside (barring injury) in my opinion and we will be able to track the careers of both pretty closely.

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    1. 1. Pitt may get 2-star DB's. Just look at Dennard & Waynes. Narduzzi will go after the guys HE thinks are best & I trust his judgement over anyone else's.

      2. Pitt visited Petrishen at home with several coaches & even visited his dad at work. They didn't back off, as you suggest.

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  6. Pitt didn't go into the last weekend with a need to land Petrishen, sorry. Did they see him as a special teams contributor, absolutely. But as a starter, not so much. Pitt had some scholarships to burn with very few prospects left. Of course they are going to send out coaches locally.

    We'll see how this plays out three years from now. It will be a great comparison as to the better coaching staff, right? Barring injury of course. This is a head to head developmental battle, so time will tell.

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