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Initial Depth Chart Breakdown

Looking at Pitt’s initial depth chart for the 2017 season.

Last week, ACC Media Days took place in Charlotte. Lance Lysowski of DKPittsburghSports tweeted out a picture of Pitt’s depth chart as listed in the media guide for the event. With that, here are some reactions to that first depth chart. Many of Pitt’s incoming true freshmen are not listed, so that’s something to remember. And of course, Fall camp has yet to begin, and plenty can change between now and the September 2nd opener against Youngstown State.

The first way-too-early depth chart for Pitt. Max Browne listed as starter at QB. Ollison at RB. Salem Brightwell at Mike linebacker pic.twitter.com/85fiuStQHp— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) July 13, 2017

Quarterback

  1. Max Browne SR. 2. Ben DiNucci SO.

No surprises here. Max Browne transferred to Pitt with the expectation to be the starter, and he most likely will be. We all know his story, a former five-star recruit that went to USC that waited his turn, to only lose his starting job to super freshman Sam Darnold. The pedigree is there, but now we need to see it. Browne was largely unimpressive in the Spring game, so there is some slight concern.

Ben DiNucci as the top backup is no surprise. He has some game experience, although not much. He should have a leg up on the freshmen QB’s, Tom MacVittie and Kenny Pickett. Still, DiNucci was considered by many as a reach by Pitt. He was a prolific high school player, but there is still uncertainty he can be an impact player here in the ACC. I still think MacVittie has a ways to go, despite a lot of optimism surrounding him by the fan base. Kenny Pickett really opened eyes at the Spring game, but will likely redshirt this season. Should Browne falter or get injured, it will be DiNucci going into the huddle.

Running Back

  1. Qadree Ollison JR 2. Darrin Hall JR 3. Chawntez Moss SO

There may not be a deeper position on the whole roster than running back. Pitt has seemingly five capable ball carriers, and all of them have some serious ability. Out of the gates, it’s junior Qadree Ollison as the starter. Ollison only carried the ball 33 times last year, following a 1,000 yard season in 2015 in which he was named ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year. Ollison is listed at 6’2” 230, and he is more of a downhill runner than the other backs.

Darrin Hall is listed as the top reserve, and has 417 rushing yards on 100 carries in his career. Like Ollison, he was used much more in 2015 during Conner’s absence. His playing time dwindled last year, but has shown flashes in his career. He could push for the top spot.

The third back may be the most intriguing among the returning players. Chawntez Moss rushed for 227 yards last season as Conner’s primary backup before a mid-season injury. He displayed real promise in his playing time last year, and could win the starting job.

Not listed on the depth chart are a pair of incoming ESPN300 recruits, AJ Davis and Todd Sibley. The two four-star backs are the best pair of running backs Pitt has brought in together since Ray Graham and Dion Lewis came into the program in 2009. It wouldn’t shock anyone if one of these players seizes the opportunity to play this year, they are that talented.

Fullback

  1. George Aston JR 2. Colton Lively SR

George Aston is one of the key components that makes Pitt’s offense go. The junior fullback is coming off a 10 touchdown season, and is a factor in running, receiving, and blocking. Aston is a smart football player that proved to be very valuable and versatile last season.

Colton Lively is a walk-on senior that has not contributed much offensively. I would suspect if Aston goes down, they would go with more two tight end or three receiver sets. He’s really the only guy on the roster that can do what he does.

Tight End

  1. Chris Clark 2. Devon Edwards

Chris Clark is the presumptive starter at tight end this season. A one-time top recruit, he started his career at UCLA before ending up at Pitt. He missed last season with a knee injury, but appears to be ready to go this season. Clark has big shoes to fill after Scott Orndoff has a very productive season in 2016.

Devon Edwards is technically the only other scholarship tight end returning this season. He is expected to be used mostly in blocking sets. That will also be the case with Rutgers grad transfer, Matt Flanagan, who is not yet listed on the depth chart. He had 18 career receptions for the Scarlet Knights before coming to Pitt.

Pitt brought in three tight ends in the most recent recruiting class. One or two of them may redshirt, but I expect at least one to see the field. Charles Reeves is a four-star from Ohio, and has the potential to be a serious weapon in his career, he is the favorite among the newcomers to see the field. Although local recruits, Tyler Sear and Grant Carrigan will be in the mix as well.

Left Tackle

  1. Brian O’Neill JR 2. Tony Pilato SO

Brian O’Neill comes into the 2017 after a strong sophomore campaign. The junior is making the switch from right to left tackle, and many believe it will be a seamless transition. O’Neill is on many preseason watch lists and All-American teams and things of that nature. He has started in Pitt’s past 25 games over the past two years.

Tony Pilato is a redshirt sophomore from Hempfield High School in the WPIAL. He did not play at all last season, but finds himself in the two-deep depth chart to start the year.

Left Guard

  1. Alex Officer SR 2. Brandon Ford FR

Alex Officer is back, and is four-year starter on the offensive line. He started all 13 games last year as a center, but in 2015 he played guard, and that’s why the coaching staff feels he can transition back to that spot this year. Officer has 36 career starts under his belt, making him one of the most experienced offensive linemen in the ACC.

Brandon Ford enters the two-deep depth chart for the first time after redshirting in 2016. Ford is a local product from Upper St. Clair High School in the Pittsburgh area.

Center

  1. Connor Dintino JR 2. Jimmy Morrissey FR

Connor Dintino is expected to earn the starting job at center. He was a backup all of last season and played special teams mostly. Dintino came to Pitt as a defensive player, but made the switch to offense before last season.

Jimmy Morrissey is from Philadelphia, and came to Pitt as a walk-on. He drew attention last year and seems to be a viable option this season to earn some playing time.

Right Guard

  1. Alex Bookser JR 2. Justin Morgan FR

Alex Bookser has 15 starts under his belt including every game last season. A former top recruit from the Pittsburgh area, he has proved he is a solid player for the Panthers. He is however dealing with an off season arrest that could subject him to a suspension for a game, if not more.

Justin Morgan is listed on the two-deep for the first time after a redshirt last season. He is a massive presence, as he checks in at 6’6” 350 pounds. He could be in the mix for some playing time with Bookser’s status in doubt.

Right Tackle

  1. Jared Jones-Smith SR 2. Jerry Drake FR

Jared Jones-Smith is a talented player, but has dealt with injuries that has slowed his progress a bit. He appears in line to be a starter this season, and perhaps could have an NFL future. After a promising 2014 season, a knee injury sidelined him for all of 2015. He played some last year, but looks to become the player many expected him to be by now.

Jerry Drake is the first true freshman to find himself on the two-deep. He enrolled early and participated in the Spring, giving him a leg up on some of the other incoming recruits. Drake is a massive player, and held his own in the Spring game.

Defensive End

  1. Dewayne Hendrix JR Allen Edwards SR
  2. James Folston Jr. JR Rori Blair SR
  3. Rashad Weaver FR Patrick Jones III FR

Dewayne Hendrix was expected to be a force last season, but came down with an injury in the opener against Villanova and missed the entire season. Hendrix is a former four-star recruit that started at Tennessee, but transferred to Pitt after a season. With Ejuan Price gone, a lot is expected of the junior. Joining Hendrix at the top line is senior Allen Edwards. He found his way into the starting lineup late last season, and came up with some big plays. Edwards will look to continue that into this season.

As a bit of a surprise, Rori Blair is not listed as a starter. Blair has 20 career starts in his three years at Pitt, and is their most experienced defensive linemen. He has 10 career sacks including 3.5 last season. James Foltston is another reserve with some experience.

It’s a two deep depth chart, but Pitt included three for this position. Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones III are redshirt freshman with very promising futures. Both looked the part in the Spring game, and should see the field this year.

Defensive Tackle

  1. Amir Watts SO Keyshon Camp FR
  2. Mike Herndon JR Shane Roy JR
  3. Rashad Wheeler FR

Pitt lost three key faces at defensive tackle from last season, and will have a lot of new faces here this year. Amir Watts and Keyshon Camp are the listed starters for now. Watts played some last year as a true freshman, and is a player the coaches seem very high on at the moment. Keyshon Camp was a big recruiting win for Pat Narduzzi, and looks ready to contribute as a redshirt freshman.

Both Shane Roy and Mike Herndon have game experience, but have yet to really break through for serious playing time. They should push the younger players ahead of them for now in Fall camp.

Rashad Wheeler is another highly regarded freshman, and came into the program with Camp and Watts. He should get some snaps this season. I think a guy that’s not listed that can really push for a starting job is junior college transfer, Kam Carter.

Money Linebacker

  1. Elijah Zeise 2. Jalen Williams 3. Elias Reynolds FR

Elijah Zeise is penciled in as the starter at Pitt’s “Money” linebacker spot for now. The junior earned a starting spot last year, but sustained a season-ending injury in the opener against Villanova. Zeise is a former wide receiver, and has limited game experience as a linebacker.

Jalen Williams is listed as the top reserve here for now. He was once a safety, but transitioned to linebacker last year. He has been mostly a special teams player in his first two active seasons. Also listed is redshirt freshman, Elias Reynolds. He took a redshirt last year, but should compete with Williams for the top backup job.

Mike Linebacker

  1. Saleem Brightwell 2. Quintin Wirginis 3. Chase Pine

Saleem Brightwell is tabbed as the starter in the middle, which is a bit of a surprise. As a redshirt freshman, he found his way on the field as an outside backer, and many expected him to stay in that slot. Brightwell is one of the most promising young linebackers the Panthers’ have had in a while. He made an exceptional interception that was vital in Pitt’s upset win over Clemson.

Quintin Wirginis is an experienced veteran, and many expected him to be the starting middle linebacker this season. He will need to prove that in Fall camp. Behind both of them is redshirt freshman, Chase Pine. Pine is a very talented player, and could get himself on the field sooner rather than later.

STAR Linebacker

  1. Oluwaseun Idowu JR 2. Anthony McKee Jr. SO 3. Jalen Williams JR

Oluwaseun “Seun” Idowu started 12 games last season following the injury to Elijah Zeise. Idowu was a former walk-on and ended up being Pitt’s third leading tackles last season. Pushing Idowu will be sophomore, Anthony McKee Jr. McKee was a nice recruiting win for Narduzzi a few years back, and will look to make an impact on the field this season.

Cornerback

  1. Avonte Maddox SR Phillipie Motley JR
  2. Therran Coleman FR Dane Jackson SO
  3. Malik Henderson SO Damar Hamlin SO

Avonte Maddox has been a starter for three years at Pitt. He is their most experienced corner, so it should come as no surprise he is projected to start once again. Pitt’s passing defense was putrid last season, but Maddox still managed to come up with some big plays. He can be inconsistent, but he is talented. Surprisingly, Phillipie Motley is listed as the starter opposite Maddox. He has not played much throughout his career, but did register two starts last year.

Pitt’s talent at cornerback is young and that may start with redshirt freshman Therran Coleman. The native of Pittsbugh is a very gifted athlete, and should push for a starting job in Fall camp. Also listed as a backup is sophomore, Dane Jackson. He played a considerable amount last year, and showed glimpses of being a good player.

Also listed as a corner is Damar Hamlin. The sophomore was Pitt’s top recruit a year ago, and dealt with an injury plagued season. He managed to get on the field some, but did not make a significant impact. There has been talks he could be moving to safety, which will be something to watch once camp begins.

Safety

  1. Jordan Whitehead JR Dennis Briggs JR
  2. Jazzee Stocker SO OR Bricen Garner FR Phil Campbell FR
  3. Henry Miller FR

Jordan Whitehead is perhaps Pitt’s best overall player. After a slow start, Whitehead played like an All-American before breaking his arm in Pitt’s upset win over Clemson. Whitehead is listed on all the watch lists, preseason All-American teams, and even finds himself on some early mock drafts. If he lives up to his billing, this could be his last year as a Panther. Starting alongside Whitehead is fellow junior, Dennis Briggs. He has been a reserve most of his career, so it’ll be interesting to see him play full time.

Jazzee Stocker and Bricen Garner should push for playing time this year. Stocker saw the field some last year on special teams, while Garner took a redshirt. Pitt also lists Phil Campbell and Henry Miller. Both are redshirt freshmen with a lot of promise. Miller could eventually move to linebacker given his 6’3” frame.

Obviously the big factor here is Paris Ford. He might be Pitt’s second best safety already, but they are still in a waiting period to see if he qualifies, although Narduzzi seems hopeful.

Kicker

  1. Alex Kessman FR 2. Ian Troost JR

Pitt will be looking to replace the talented, but inconsistent Chris Blewitt. Blewitt was sometimes undervalued at Pitt, and may have the most iconic kick in Pitt history when he hit the game winner over Clemson. Kessman is a walk-on from Plum near Pittsburgh. He seems to have the advantage to be the starter, how he will do remains to be seen.

Punter

  1. Ryan Winslow SR 2. Kirk Christdoulou FR

Ryan Winslow has been Pitt’s starting punter for the past three years. He has been solid in his career, yet sometimes underwhelming. Kirk Christodoulou will redshirt this year and likely be the starter next season.

Long Snapper

  1. Nate Bossory SR 2. Conrad Brake

Nate Bossory is a reserve tight end, and as it stands now is the favorite to be the long snapper this season.

Pitt wrestling assistant coach Jordan Leen talks local recruiting focus

Pitt wrestling has one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation. Unfortunately, the Panthers have had a difficult time keeping high school kids in the area.

The Panthers have had some recent successes in landing transfers Kellan Stout (Penn State) and, this past weekend, Micky Phillippi (Virginia). That's important from a local standpoint in that both were guys that were from the western Pennsylvania area that left for other programs initially.

New assistant coach Jordan Leen, who recently came here from Virginia, wants to get Pitt back to landing local prospects. In a recent FloWrestling interview, he says he thinks the program can do most of its damage by simply recruiting around here.

"At UVA, we recruited nationwide and, in particular, one of those cities that I heavily recruited was Pittsburgh. So, now our recruiting is a little bit more simple, a little bit more manageable. We recruit regionally because we don't really have to go too far out of our region to find great wrestlers." ... "We just got back from a week of home visits and the furthest we drove for a home visit was 4 1/2 hours. So the majority of our home visits were within an hour or two hours. It's really nice to be able to try to keep the great local talent home."

Leen also talked a bit about attracting local talent, including adding transfers that possibly wanted to return back home, which speaks to both Stout and Phillippi. In addition, Leen says that others looking to transfer have reached out to the program as well.

An important part of what Leen discussed regarding those two transfers is that there's the hope they help lead to a domino effect for landing other local recruits. He mentioned the difficult of trying to get the local guys because no one wants to be the first one to come to what might be an unsure situation. The hope is that landing Stout and Phillippi not only strengthens the roster but also makes the program more desirable to potential high school recruits.

I know many fans weren't extremely high on the Keith Gavin hire. He still has a lot of work to do along with his staff, that's for sure. But I am more sold on this group of coaches than I was previously and I think you can even argue they have some solid momentum on their side with the recent transfer additions.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Rachid Ibrahim hoping to revive career in Wisconsin

A little-mentioned note last month was that former Pitt running back transferred out of the program and headed to Wisconsin to join former coach Paul Chryst. Ibrahim has a year of eligibility left and hasn't carried the ball since 2014. He missed all of 2015 with an injury and last year, played primarily on special teams. Given how little he's played for Pitt in the past two years, it was mostly a non-factor for the program.

Ibrahim obviously feels pretty comfortable with Chryst and his former coach was surely the biggest factor in his decision. Players often transfer to other schools for more playing time. But it looks like he'll be hard-pressed to get a ton of carries with the Badgers. As a grad transfer, he'll be able to play immediately this season.

First, he'll have to compete with former Pitt rusher Chris James, who could get considerable time this year after sitting out last season due to transferring to Wisconsin. There's also Bradrick Shaw and Taiwan Deal, who combined for more than 600 yards last year as backups.

Ibrahim will likely start behind all of those guys on the depth chart and if he hasn't been able to regain his rushing ability, he could find it hard to get playing time. You might remember that last year, head coach Pat Narduzzi talked about Ibrahim having a hard time returning to form. Part of the problem, too, was that Pitt was just so deep at running back.

The good news for Ibrahim is that Chryst and Wisconsin have had a lot of success spreading the ball around to its backs. Even if Ibrahim is only the fourth running back on the depth chart, he could still see a good amount of time on the field.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt wrestling adds Virginia transfer and former Top 20 recruit Micky Phillippi

Pitt wrestling added a big transfer earlier this month when Kellen Stout announced he would transfer from Penn State. Head coach Keith Gavin is at it again, landing another transfer from a major-conference program. This week, it was announced that Micky Phillippi would be transferring from Virginia to come to Pitt.

Phillippi, like Stout, is a local kid. He wrestled at Derry where he won three state championships in high school. Phillippi competed at Virginia this season, where he was 22-7 at open tournaments. He's looking forward to coming 'home.'

"There's no place like home, so I'm really excited to join the Pitt wrestling family," Phillippi said. "The coaching staff are amazing people and I know that they will help me through the process of coming back. I can't wait to compete in the Field House because it will truly be a home match."

Coming out of high school, Phillippi was one of the top wrestling recruits in the country. InterMat had him ranked as the No. 16 overall recruit in the country, according to this page.

A likely factor in getting Phillippi was the program's addition of Jordan Leen as an assistant, which was announced back in May. Leen was an assistant at Virginia last year and helped to coach Phlilippi while there.

Unlike Stout, Phillippi won't be available to the Panthers this season because he's transferring inside of the ACC. That shouldn't be much of a problem, though, since the Panthers return 133-pounder Dom Forys, who will compete for All-American status and is the best wrestler on the team.

Pitt lost Teshan Campbell to a transfer to Ohio State after this season before Gavin arrived. But since his loss, Gavin has been pretty retooling the roster. He hasn't been here long but he and the staff have already been hard at work to improve the roster. It's no secret that the area is a major source of high-quality recruits and the hope is that Gavin can begin to keep more of them home. The additions of Stout and Phillippi could be a good indication that he's capable of selling the program to local kids.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

A look at job security of college football coaches

CBS Sports had an interesting look at job security for all 130 college football coaches in D-I. More than half were deemed extremely safe and one of those was Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

Narduzzi, of course, isn't in any danger of losing his job right now. He's led Pitt to two eight-win seasons and while it would have been nice to see the team win a bowl game in those years, there's little doubt that Narduzzi's job is safe.

Other notables for Pitt fans, include recent former coaches Paul Chryst and Todd Graham. While Chryst is deemed as safe at Wisconsin, the site says Graham is in serious trouble at Arizona State.

Here's the full list.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt football youth a concern for Pat Narduzzi in 2017

Head coach Pat Narduzzi lost quite a bit from last year. You can expect to hear that theme carried out throughout the season as the Panthers had five players selected in the NFL Draft and several others land free agent contracts.

It makes perfect sense, then, that Narduzzi would have concerns about a youth movement of sorts this year.

"The biggest concern is we lost a lot of good football players who have opportunities to make NFL rosters all over the United States. We'll have another five or six next year, more than likely. "My biggest concern are our young guys stepping up and filling those roles and the leadership roles. A year ago, we had 21 really good seniors who were impressive. To not have those guys with us is a void. So, we're looking for those new seniors."

'Youth movement' isn't really the right term. The Panthers don't have a completely young team and I think that's a little bit of a misconception based on how much they lost.

Based on the preseason depth chart that was released last week, there are plenty of upperclassmen starters for the team. Quarterbacking the Panthers is senior transfer Max Browne. Pitt's entire offensive line is comprised of upperclassmen. Pitt also has several key upperclassmen in skill positions, including the top two wide receivers Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson as well as the top two running backs on the depth chart in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. The top two fullbacks are upperclassmen. The team's starting secondary is all listed as upperclassmen as are two of the three linebackers.

Narduzzi's point is really that the team lost quite a bit of key players, which they clearly did. And the team also has several young players expected to fill key backup roles. But the Panthers also have a lot of starters with a good amount of experience so it's not as if they are starting over entirely.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Close not good enough for Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi

Pat Narduzzi spoke about many topics at last week's ACC Media Days. One topic was about getting Pitt to the next level and winning the Coastal Division.

"We've been close the last two, but close ain't good enough," said Narduzzi.

There's no doubt that the Panthers have had a good showing in the last two years under his direction, winning eight games each season. And there's no doubt that most fans have been satisfied with how the team is performed and the direction he has the program going. But Narduzzi is right in that it's ultimately not good enough since the team has bigger goals.

Narduzzi also went on to discuss the Division being wide open with Clemson and Florida State in the Atlantic. Here's the short video segment on the Panthers' head coach talking about trying to break through to the next level.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlogfor our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

ACC leads conferences in watch lists for Outland Trophy and Nagurski Award

Last week, I mentioned that Pitt had several three players on the preseason watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Nagurski Award. Those players were Brian O'Neill and Alex Officer (both Outland) and Jordan Whitehead (Nagurski).

But ACCFootballRx notes that the ACC in general placed quite a few players on those list. In fact, the conference leads all others in terms of players named.

In all, 17 linemen were named to the Outland watch list while 20 players were on the watch list for the Nagurski Award.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlogfor our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Quadree Henderson named to Maxwell Watch List

Several Pitt players have been named to preseason college football award watch lists and one of those was Quadree Henderson. Henderson burst onto the scene last year with a big season primarily as a return man, gaining All-American status. After that year, he's on the radar of award voters for this season and he was one of 85 players named to the watch list for one of the bigger awards in the Maxwell, given to the top overall player in college football.

Henderson is one of the better all purpose players in college football. On top of his four touchdowns as a return specialist, he also had 631 rushing yards to go along with 26 catches for 286 yards and a total of six rushing and receiving touchdowns.

Despite the fact that Henderson is poised for a big season in 2017, there's no doubt that his chances of seriously competing for this award are slim. Still, it's great to see him recognized as one of the top players in college football.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlogfor our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pat Narduzzi wants more improvement from Quadree Henderson as receiver

The narrative of Quadree Henderson needing to improve as a wide receiver isn't a new one. Henderson, already a world class (and All-American) kick/punt returner, also excelled as a running back, piling up 630 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.

Where Henderson struggled a little was making an impact as a pass-catcher. On the season as a starter, he had a modest 26 catches for 286 yards and only a single touchdown. As such a dynamic performer with the ball in his hands, Narduzzi is hoping he becomes a better receiver this season.

During the spring, the head coach said it wasn't a matter of his hands, rather, his route running. He hoped to see a lot of improvement out of Henderson and he echoed that sentiment on Friday, too.

"He needs to become an elite receiver," Narduzzi said Friday at the ACC's football kickoff event. "It's great to hand the ball off if he wants to be a running back. But if he wants to play at the next level, he's not going to do it just as a return guy. If he wants to be a tailback, be a tailback. But he needs to be better on the field reading coverages, getting vertical and making big plays down the field. That's been a major focus in the offseason."

If you just take that comment at face value, it can almost read as if he was a little annoyed at Henderson. Of course, that isn't true. Narduzzi was clearly talking about Henderson showcasing more so that he can get to the NFL. He also kind of reiterated that point.

"He wants it, too," Narduzzi said. "He understands that. It's not something where he's satisfied with getting handoffs and maybe catching a bubble once in a while. He has to be a deep threat to play at the next level."

Can he be elite? I don't know. He has the speed and elusiveness, as evidenced by the work he does in the return game and as a running back. But using those tools isn't enough on their own. He has to run routes with pinpoint accuracy, gain separation, find holes in coverage, be mindful to hold onto the ball, catch the ball, etc. There's a lot more to it than simply being fast and shifty.

I'm not sure what a reasonable goal is for Henderson. I always hate to simply put numbers on something and say, 'if he does this, he was successful.' So much of it is situational. I'd take a 3rd down catch and conversion over three meaningless catches, for example. But Henderson will also need to bump up his stats, too, to get more notice by NFL teams. At the risk of quantifying too much, a good starter for him this season might be to get to about 40 catches and 500 yards.

Personally, I don't care where his yardage comes from so much. If he's killing it on the jet sweeps again and Pitt is moving the ball, I'm happy. This is more about continuing his development as a receiver so that, as Narduzzi says, he gets more looks at the next level.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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