Oct 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Synjyn Days (10) is tackled by Pittsburgh Panthers linebacker Todd Thomas (8) and defensive lineman Darryl Render (91) and defensive lineman David Durham (44) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Georgia Tech won 56-28. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mosley-Smith is going to be a huge part in making this defense a great one. He is going to command double teams at the nose and deflect immediate attention away from the backers behind him.
Last season he contributed in all 13 games and had a hand in 27 tackles, scooped up a single fumble, and deflected 3 passes at the line. As the season progressed, he did too.
He has a strong and aggressive motor that fiercely attacks on the snap of the ball. He could turn out to be a vital part in the success of the Panthers in 2015.
Render, much like Mosley-Smith, developed solidly through consistent playing time in 2014. Render contributed in 12 games while starting 11 of those contests. In 2015 he is looking to surpass his numbers from last season where we saw him bring down the opponent 32 times, 6 occasions in the backfield, and batted down 4 passes of the quarterback.
His leadership cannot be duplicated and his desire to be in that position was on stage while at the ACC media days alongside teammate James Conner.
In his final season, Render is set to leave it all on the field in hopes of gaining the attention of NFL scouts, something that should be attainable with continued health and his reckless abandon nature of play on the field. 2015 is lining up to be a good season for the senior.
Tyrique Jarrett is fresh off of an impressive spring. A spring that he, along with Dontez Ford, won the Pitt Conway awards for the most improved players on the team.
Hopefully that award is a sign of things to come this season. Jarrett, who played the majority of last season as a reserve, wasn’t the most productive of all players. Something that, as the coaches describe, will be completely different when they take on Youngstown State on the first Saturday in September.
He had the opportunity to really watch and see how his position is played behind both Aaron Donald in 2013 and Mosley-Smith last season: two great mentors for a player with raw talent that is looking to break out as a junior. I might be reaching in placing him in this capacity as a difference maker but it is a reach I am willing to take each time on a player that has shown the desire to get better at a ferocious pace.
This has been a tumultuous off-season when it comes to players stretching the limits of the law to get their lips on alcohol and hands on the wheel. Yes, there were only two instances, but that is far too many for players that don’t need black marks on their portfolio for the next level.
With the First Pick
We all know that Tyler Boyd’s run-in with the law wasn’t horrific but less can be said about Rori Blair whose absent-mindedness could have cost him his career, his life, and the livelihood of others as he erratically drove at 117 miles per hour after indulging in some alcohol as a minor.
Enough of that, now onto his football career.
Blair, as a freshman, demonstrated the same athletic prowess that former Panthers Greg Romeus and Aaron Donald showed early in their Pittsburgh careers. A strong upper half with a fast-paced lower half is a great combination when you need to be fast coming off of the ball as a defensive end.
After starting two of the 12 games in which he participated, he was able to amass 5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, and compile a total of 14 tackles. Breaking down those numbers, of the 14 total tackles, 10.5 of them came behind the line of scrimmage. That is making the most out of limited playing time.
His quick burst, strong upper half, and knack for finding the ball is second to none on the team. Unfortunately it will have to wait a week to display itself, with his suspension for the opening game against Youngstown State.
I hope the promise of his freshman season isn’t broken and derailed by the hiccup this off-season.
Price is a coach and fan favorite. He is returning from a chest muscle injury last off-season that sidelined him for the entire 2014 season. That was the season we were banking on him to finally make his forward stride to become a leader on the field.
His positive attitude is contagious on the team and is something you want on the field at all times in trench-wars with the opponent.
I honestly believe he will have a resurgent season barring any health issues, his last in a Pitt uniform.
Next: Production from the Second Tier