As a redshirt sophomore for the University of Pittsburgh, Myles Caragein has not played much in his career. However, after playing a limited role in 12 games last fall, Caragein's role should elevate immensely this season, and his future certainly is bright.
Fifth-year seniors Gus Mustakas and Mick Williams are the Panthers' starting defensive tackles, but Caragein is the first guy off the bench for Mustakas.
"I consider Myles to be a starter for us,'' Pitt defensive line coach Greg Gattuso said. "He rotates with Gus and Mick during practice, and he is a kid that we trust completely to go in there. And there's no drop off in production. And there hasn't been. We really think the world of Myles.
"The biggest thing is that he gives Gus and Mick a lot of chances to rest. So, we like to roll our defensive line. We like to play a lot of guys, and he's going to be a really great player as he continues to learn and mature over the next couple years. But right now, we have him playing behind Gus.''
Some Pitt linemen learn both positions, either tackle or end spot, and a couple can play all four. Mustakas can slide over to Mick Williams tackle spot when Caragein comes in at nose tackle. And according to Caragein, the positions are quite different.
"To play nose guard, it's a lot different than the three technique (tackle spot),'' Caragein said. "You have to be really smart and know all the defenses and be on top of all the alignments and things like that. Also, it's more of a read and react position, but one where any mistake could cost your team a touchdown. The tackle spot, it's more about coming off the ball quickly.''
"We're also excited about Chas Alecxih with the way he's playing and developing,'' Gattuso said. "So, we have a good future at our tackle spots. Justin Hargrove is getting close to coming back.
"He's a guy who has played all four spots on the line. But Myles, we only have him at nose guard right now. And he does a great job there.''
Caragein's motivation going into this season was much like his teammates. It stemmed from Pitt's humiliating loss in the Sun Bowl. At least the defense played well in that game, but that doesn't matter, Caragein noted.
"That bowl game stuck in our minds for a long time, so we were glad just to get back on the field this season,'' Caragein said. "And we were so ready to go. Buddy did a great job getting us ready for the season, and we had a good camp. So, we were able to start the season on a strong note.
"I just want to help the team out the best that I can. But I can't think about myself. I just want to do what's best for the team to help us win football games. I expect to play a lot, but I'm not concerned about that. We have a great defense, and I'm just glad to be part of it.
"We have goals to shut out our opponent,'' Caragein added, "not miss any tackles and to play the perfect game. We still have a lot of work to do to get there. We want to play tough, physical football, and that's definitely something we can do every week. That's always going to be there.''
In fact, the opposition can count on it especially when Caragein is in the game.