Looking ahead to his first year on the field, Pitt linebacker Bam Bradley knows he will make a mistake at some point. He might even make a costly one.
One thing Bradley will not do, however, is slow down.
"Even when you make a mistake, don't get down on yourself," said Bradley, a redshirt freshman. "You've just got to keep playing and keep playing as fast as you can. In the end, if you make a mistake going 100 miles an hour, then that's better than being all droopy on the field because you made a mistake."
So far in training camp, Bradley's fast play has made an impression on the coaching staff. After starting practices with the second team, Bradley moved up to the first unit late last week and has stuck there through Monday.
Bradley played safety in high school at Trotwood-Madison near Dayton, Ohio, and spent last year learning his new position at strong side linebacker.
"It was harder than I thought it was going to be, and I'm still adjusting to it right now," he said. "I'm used to having everything in front of me playing safety, but now I have to turn around and look behind me, so it's a little change up."
There are some similarities, though. Specifically, Bradley's spot has a lot of pass-coverage responsibilities, so the converted safety feels at home. Most times, he's covering an opposing slot receiver.
Bradley said he has been able to pick up the position more quickly this fall because new defensive coordinator Matt House has simplified the defense, which allows the players to think less and play faster.
"Last year, it was a whole lot of different stuff," Bradley said. "This year, they're just trying to make it real simple for us so we can just play fast and just run the alleys."
Now that he has adjusted to the new spot, he's starting to reap the rewards. Even after he missed a few days to attend a relative's funeral last week, Bradley jumped right back into the first-team rotation.
"I thought he was doing some good stuff early in training camp, and now he's got to get back in the swing of things," Chryst said. "We're looking forward to seeing what he can do."
For his part, Bradley isn't taking anything for granted.
"I feel like my spot is not solidified, so I've just been trying to get better every day and trying to improve every day," he said. "I don't want to get caught up in being with the [first team] because those older guys, they're seasoned veterans and some of their spots aren't locked up. We're in camp, but you know who's going to play and who's not. I feel like my spot is one of those spots that's not signed, sealed and delivered."
Bradley's biggest challengers for his position likely are redshirt freshman Mike Caprara, who had the first-team spot at the beginning of training camp, or Bradley's older brother, redshirt sophomore Nicholas Grigsby.
Bradley will keep trying to hold onto the first-team job and be one of the first 11 defenders on the field when the Panthers take on Florida State Sept. 2.
"If you play anything or anything you do in life, if you don't want to be the best at your position or the best at what you're doing, then you don't need to be doing it," Bradley said. "I was a two in the spring, coming into camp I was still a two, but just doing the work to try and get that spot. If I end up losing my spot, then I can't blame anybody but myself."
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG.