Dec 3, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Pittsburgh Panthers running back Isaac Bennett (34) carries the ball against the Syracuse Orange during the third quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Pitt Football: Isaac Bennett, Malcolm Crockett presented with golden opportunity

It is always said that opportunities don’t come that often, but when they do you have to be ready to take advantage of them.

That’s the case for Pitt running backs Isaac Bennett (junior) and Malcolm Crockett (redshirt sophomore), who suddenly have been presented with a golden opportunity to emerge as the feature back in Paul Chryst’s offense.

Dec 3, 2011; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Pittsburgh Panthers running back Isaac Bennett (34) carries the ball against the Syracuse Orange during the third quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

With the transfer of Rushel Shell, Bennett and Crockett have risen to No.1 and 2 on the current Panthers’ depth chart as spring practice continues.

The best case scenario for the Panthers is that one of the two backs step up and realizes the opportunity they have in front of them. So far it looks as if they both are prepared for the challenge.

“It’s something I’ve been preparing for,” Crockett told Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I knew my time would come. Now it’s here, so every rep, every second, I’m just going to go hard to the fullest and eventually try to start.”

“I’m trying to work on my quickness a little bit, and he’s a little quicker right now,” Bennett also told Werner. “But we’re both competitors out there on the field.”

Without a doubt, both guys are very talented and could do a decent job running the ball, but replacing the highly touted Shell could be difficult as the Hopewell native was a more highly thought of recruit around the nation than either Bennett or Crockett.

Both guys originally were recruited to play in Todd Graham’s spread offense, but they have found a comfort level in Chryst’s pro-style attack.

They saw limited action in 2012. Bennett had 29 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns, while Crockett gained 50 yards on 12 carries. But they were the number three and four running backs on the depth chart behind Ray Graham and Shell.

However Bennett also got 58 carries as a freshman in 2011 when he rushed for 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

My first guess right now is that this will be Bennett’s job to lose, but if Crockett is healthy, he has the speed and explosiveness to be an impact maker.

However it’s simple for both guys right now.

Opportunity has knocked. We will see who answers the door.

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Tags: Isaac Bennett Malcolm Crockett Pitt Panthers Pittsburgh Panthers Football Rushel Shell

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