Morning Mania

Primarily upperclassmen went through the morning practice session for the Pitt football team Tuesday, and there were few surprises when the first team offense and defense lined up in the team drills.

The two main stories for the University of Pittsburgh were that sophomore John Malecki started at a defensive tackle spot next to junior Gus Mustakas, while junior Rashaad Duncan was relegated to second team. And the starting linebackers were redshirt juniors Adam Gunn and Scott McKillop and redshirt sophomore Shane Murray. Sophomore Dorin Dickerson was redshirt freshman Nate Nix were the backups behind Gunn and Murray, respectively.

"Right now, we're going with Malecki in there with Gus,'' Pitt defensive line coach Greg Gattuso said. "John worked hard in the offseason, especially with his conditioning, and he deserves to be in there. But Rashaad will get his shot, too. He just has to work a little harder on the conditioning aspect of his game. That will make a difference for him.'' Tuesday morning practice notes 8-7

Malecki played basically his entire freshman season in pain with a left shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. He initially hurt it during Big 33 camp in June and re-injured it during Pitt's camp.

"I should play a lot better this season now that I can use both my arms and hands,'' Malecki said. "I think I worked very hard in the offseason, and I'm looking forward to showing how much I improved this year.''

There were just four running backs in the morning session, junior LaRod Stephens-Howling and sophomore Kevin Collier, who shared time at tailback, while junior Conredge Collins and redshirt sophomore Shane Brooks are the fullbacks. Collins even split out a couple times.

When Pitt worked on the passing game with Bill Stull and freshman walk-on Andrew Janocko at quarterback, senior Derek Kinder started with redshirt junior Marcel Pestano. Sophomore Tamarcus Porter and redshirt sophomore Oderick Turner, last year's starter, were second-teamers. Pestano apparently passed up the two after spring drills and summer conditioning. However, the Panthers went with multiple wideouts and one back more often than not. They also split out starting tight end Nate Byham at times.

Fifth-year senior Mike McGlynn worked with the team during individual drills, but he didn't participate when the offensive line went into team work. Sophomore Jason Pinkston was at right tackle with sophomore Joe Thomas at right guard, fifth-year senior Chris Vangas at center, junior C.J. Davis at left guard and senior Jeff Otah at left tackle.

Redshirt sophomore Doug Fulmer didn't do anything during the morning session other than observe his teammates. He watched fifth-year seniors Chris McKillop and Joe Clermond hold down the defensive end spots. Redshirt freshman Dan Loheyde was the backup middle linebacker.

The secondary consisted of fifth-year senior Kennard Cox and sophomore Aaron Berry at cornerback, while fifth-year senior Mike Phillips and redshirt junior Eric Thatcher were the safeties. Frosh Dom DeCicco and sophomore Jovani Chappel were the backup safeties, while senior Lowell Robinson and and redshirt freshman Ricky Gary were the second-team corners.

The only incoming freshmen recruits believed to be in the morning session were DeCicco, second-team center Greg Gaskins and fellow offensive lineman Jordan Gibbs.

Former Panthers Sam Clancy and Rod Rutherford watched the practice as volunteer assistants. Both hope to get into coaching, Clancy in a return appearance after NFL Europe was disbanded and Rutherford now that his NFL dreams have faded.

Quick Slants The new synthetic surface on the practice fields held up really well and was in much better shape than after it was initially installed. There was some give, but it was more firm than before. ... Robinson picked off Stull in the team drills, but he was mostly sharp throughout the morning.

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