Expectations of Pitt tight ends have not been met just yet

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Pitt's passing game has been a pleasant surprise this season, ranking second in the Big East Conference through two games despite a number of concerns heading into the year.

The tight ends, a group that figured to get a lot of work in that area under new coach Paul Chryst, have been conspicuously absent from the receiving leaders.

According to Chryst, that isn't by design, just a product of how the season has played out so far.

Through seven games, Pitt's three regular tight ends -- Hubie Graham, Drew Carswell and JP Holtz -- have just 13 combined catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.

To be fair, Graham has missed four games with various injuries, and Carswell has sat out the past two. Holtz, a freshman, is the only tight end to play in every game for Pitt this season.

With only one tight end on the field, Holtz has been asked to do a little more in run-blocking and pass protection. Wide receiver Mike Shanahan also took some snaps inside to help out blocking.

"[It's] kind of a number of things," Chryst said. "[We're] certainly not trying to phase them out, but also just trying to use our personnel the best way we can."

Chryst said he thought Graham was closer to getting back on the field -- he missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain -- but he didn't have a specific timetable.

Evaluating process ongoing

Only four freshmen have seen action for Pitt this season, but that doesn't mean Chryst isn't keeping his eye on the rest of his rookies.

Chryst said that the players redshirting this season are typically used to simulate Pitt's opponent on the scout team. On Thursdays and Sundays, though, these young players get a chance to run Pitt's playbook and show their skills to the coaching staff.

"I think we're doing a fair amount of that and I think you've got to look for windows of opportunity to help all your guys grow as players," Chryst said. "Our goal is that everybody is going to play on the weekend -- if you didn't play a lot on Saturday, you'll play on Sunday [in a practice scrimmage]."

Changing his mind

Pitt's 2013 recruiting class took a hit Sunday when running back New Jersey Corey Clement of Glassboro High School backed off his verbal commitment to the Panthers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Clement visited Wisconsin this past weekend, but did not commit to the Badgers. Clement also has taken visits to Nebraska and Notre Dame this fall.

Friday, Clement became South Jersey's all-time leading rusher when he ran for 226 yards to push his career total 5,390 yards.

Linebacker missing

Linebacker Manny Williams was absent from the weekly two-deep chart released Monday. Williams missed the Buffalo game with an unspecified anterior cruciate ligament injury. Chryst did not provide a long-term prognosis for Williams' availability. Todd Thomas started at the weakside linebacker position Saturday in Williams' place.


Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter: @WernerPG.


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