Phil Steele's 2009 College Football Preview magazine ranked Pittsburgh 23rd in its preseason poll. The Panthers also were picked to finish second in the Big East Conference standings.
"They only have five road games, and most of those are in the winnable category,'' Steele comments in the Top-40 rundown. "And Pitt is the top Big East team in my Power Poll.''
Pitt has 16 players named to the magazine's All-Big East team including senior tight end Nate Byham, senior offensive guard John Malecki, redshirt junior offensive tackle Jason Pinkston, redshirt junior defensive end Greg Romeus and senior cornerback Aaron Berry named to the first team.
Also recognized were sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, junior defensive end Jabaal Sheard and fifth-year senior defensive tackle Mick Williams on the second team; redshirt sophomore running back Shariff Harris, redshirt sophomore linebacker Greg Williams and junior strong safety Dom DeCicco on the third team; and fifth-year senior quarterback Bill Stull, fifth-year senior wide receiver Oderick Turner, senior center Robb Houser, senior offensive guard Joe Thomas and fifth-year senior linebacker Shane Murray on the fourth team.
Pitt was selected by the magazine as the No. 6 surprise team in 2009. The Panthers' defensive line was rated No. 12 in the country, while the receivers were ranked No. 15.
Pitt plays a 12-game regular-season schedule this year that includes seven games at Heinz Field. The Panthers' home slate includes games with Notre Dame, Navy and Youngstown State among non-conference matchups, while Cincinnati, Connecticut, Syracuse and South Florida visit Heinz Field to play Big East contests.
No tailback LeSean McCoy. No middle linebacker Scott McKillop. No problem. …