Cornerbacks Off To A Good Start

Junior-college transfer Saheed Imoru

While replacing all three interior offensive linemen is still a priority for the Pitt football team, as well as creating depth there, losing three-year starters Aaron Berry and Jovani Chappel from the secondary also was a major concern.

However, the recent play by junior Antwuan Reed and junior-college transfer Saheed Imoru certainly has allayed any fears Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt had at the end of last season.

"I've been pleased with both our new corners,'' Wannstedt said prior to Thursday's spring practice session. "Saheed and Antwuan both have been very productive and have done a very good job, and I think they can both do better.

"(And) Jarred Holley, he's so far ahead from where he was when we moved him from corner to safety (midway last season). He's had a very good spring so far. So, I think we'll be in good shape in the secondary.''

Reed had an interception in each practice so far this week, and Imoru had one. Both have had tight, pressing coverage, which many Pitt fans are hopeful is a divergence from the past few seasons. Imoru feels the same way.

"Yeah, that's one of the things I do the best,'' Imoru said. "I'm about 190 pounds, so I'm real physical player. I have no problem coming up to hit a running back or tight end, and I like to play physical with the receivers.''

Both Reed and Imoru have taken turns being matched against junior wideout Jon Baldwin, and the duo have won their fair share of the battles so far. On one particular play during the 11-on-11 (team) session Thursday, Baldwin's height, leaping ability and athleticism were too much to handle.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri stepped into a long pass to Baldwin, who ran a post pattern against Reed. He and Imoru have been able to run stride-for-stride with Baldwin, for the most part, but being 5-foot-10 didn't get the job done against the 6-5 leaper on this occasion.

Sunseri, who continually has thrown an accurate and strong long bomb, fired the pass 60 yards downfield. Baldwin pulled it in for the touchdown despite tight coverage from Reed. It was a terrific pass and a better catch with excellent coverage. Imoru had underneath coverage and could only watch it develop.

"This is my first year, but I'm not a freshman,'' Imoru said. "So, Coach Bennett and Coach Hafley expect a lot out of me. That's why they're on me pretty hard. They want to get the most out of me that they can. (And) I think I've done all right so far, but you can always improve. So, I'm working hard to get there.

"Covering Baldwin, I probably won't face anybody much better than him this season. He's a great receiver, and he's tough to cover. But Antwuan and me, we're up for the challenge. When I'm pushed hard like that, it always brings out the best in me. And that's what it's going to take to be successful.''

Both quarterbacks struggled, at times, during Thursday's practice due to the domination by the first- and second-team defensive lines. Whether it was Greg Romeus just battering Jason Pinkston left and right or Dan Mason coming up the middle on a blitz, getting time to throw was at a premium.

Sunseri was forced to roll to his right to alleviate some pressure by Romeus, and he dumped it off to backs Dion Lewis and Ray Graham for a couple big gains. Bostick had to improvise a couple times as well.

On one, he flipped a shovel pass to wideout Cam Saddler in the middle of the field that Saddler turned up for a 20-yard gain. He also avoided the rush and checked down to a tertiary option, Aaron Smith, cutting across the middle. The pass was a little high and behind Smith's head, and he pulled it in with a one-handed grab to pick up the first down.

Practice Notes: Redshirt freshman center Jack Lippert briefly was replaced by redshirt junior Greg Gaskins after muffing an exchange with Bostick. ... Gaskins has been the starting right offensive guard. ... Former Pitt quarterback Bill Daniels, the initial head coach of the fledgling Our Lady of Sacred Heart (OLSH) football program, was in attendance Thursday. ... Walk-on Christopher Mike was moved from middle linebacker to third-team fullback since Joe Capp is among the walking wounded. ... And redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremiah Davis ended practice with a pick 6 against Bostick during a two-minute drill play that initiated in the red zone.

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