Pitt notebook: Newest kicker Blewitt not inclined to blow it

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For most freshmen, the step from high school to college football is a monumental transition. The need for speed, knowledge and intensity is at a completely different level.

For Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt, though, the game is essentially the same: One set of goalposts, go kick the ball through them.

Blewitt has impressed through the first week of practice for Pitt, seemingly on his way to securing the starting kicker spot heading into this season.

Wednesday, he made four consecutive field goals at the end of practice, from 29, 35, 41 and 47 yards. He followed that by making five of seven Thursday, including his final kick from 47 yards.

On the final kick both times, Blewitt was surrounded by teammates screaming to create a pressure situation. When he made both, they swarmed him in celebration.

"I have the support of the guys around me, so I know that even if I miss it, they'll still have my back," Blewitt said.

Blewitt also said he is used to making kicks under pressure and recalled the longest kick of his high school career, a 51-yarder that set the record for longest field goal at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Va.

"Really, once it starts getting to that point in the game, I can see what it's coming down to," he said. "I really just start to dial in, focus on what I'm doing. I really just drown out crowd noise, focus on my holder and the snapper and just go."

Despite having the inside track at the starting job, Blewitt said he has not approached training camp with an eye on the depth chart.

"I'm just trying to do the best I can," he said. "If that's what the coaches think, then that's what the coaches think. I'm just going to come in, practice, do my work and whatever happens, happens."

Coaches shuffled

After practice Friday, coach Paul Chryst announced some staff shake-ups for the season.

Former running backs coach Desmond Robinson is shifting to a new role as the team's player personnel director. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph will take over as running backs coach, while retaining his previous role.

Rudolph, who had been coaching tight ends, will be replaced in that job by graduate assistant Mickey Turner.

Chryst said the move primarily was done to emphasize recruiting. Relief from active coaching duties will give Robinson more time to go on recruiting trips during the season.

No update on Thomas

Linebacker Todd Thomas was not at practice Friday, his third consecutive missed practice.

Chryst announced Wednesday that Thomas was going to leave the team, but Thomas' high school basketball coach Doug Biega said Thursday that Thomas intended to return to the Panthers. Chryst had no comment on the matter Friday after practice.

Coles gets noticed

Redshirt freshman cornerback Trenton Coles has been one of the early standouts in training camp.

Coles, a former Clairton High School star, has been the first defensive back off the bench in drills this week. He attributed the increased role to an offseason of studying the playbook.

"I'm comfortable now because last year I was thinking too much," Coles said. "I didn't really know the plays. Now I'm studying more and I'm just learning the system.

"I'm just playing, I'm not thinking now."

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


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