Pitt junior quarterback Pat Bostick spent the offseason working on his arm strength with assistant strength coach James Smith and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr.
He has worked on his footwork and his fundamentals and is throwing the ball with more velocity and quicker release, all in the hopes of a shot at winning the Panthers starting quarterback job.
So far, however, it appears as if Bostick might be the odd man out as redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri and senior Bill Stull have taken the lion's share of the reps with the first-team offense in recent days.
But don't think for one second that Bostick is discouraged or that he will develop a bad attitude if he doesn't ultimately win the job. In fact, the opposite will be true.
He said he'll work harder than ever because he believes it is part of the deal that comes when an athlete accepts a full scholarship.
"I'd like my role to be the starting quarterback," said Bostick, who has become one of the team leaders over the past two years. "But I still have a job to do every day even if I am not. I think some guys, if they are not the starter, they let their foot off the gas but that is not the case with me.
"Your opportunity can come at a moment's notice and it is one play. One moment's notice an injury happens and you are out there playing and you have to be ready. What really motivates me is that this university made an investment in me to do a job and I've got to do it."
Bostick has already experienced how quickly a player can go from reserve to starter.
During his freshman season, Stull went down with a thumb injury in the first game. Then backup Kevan Smith wasn't ready for prime time meaning coaches had to turn to Bostick to finish the season.
Bostick played admirably as he started the final eight games and led the Panthers to one of their biggest upsets -- a 13-9 victory against then No. 2 West Virginia in a game they were expected to lose by 28 points.
Last season, Bostick again was called into action when Stull went down with a concussion against Rutgers. He started on the road against Notre Dame and led a late touchdown drive to tie the score. The Panthers eventually won, 36-33, in four overtimes.
"I've often said that when I leave here in a few years, my biggest thing is that the guys respect me for how I acted and how I approached things and not what I did," Bostick said. "I want them to know that they can trust me that I am going to give 100 percent all the time -- no ifs, ands or buts, and that is my goal every day."
Bostick's attitude and work ethic haven't gone unnoticed by his coaches and his teammates, particularly because he leads by example.
Cignetti said that Bostick is the kind of player who is destined to be a coach some day because he is such a student of the game as well as a leader. And he said that anyone who has written Bostick off in the quarterback derby is underestimating just how far he's come in a year.
"In Pat you are probably talking about a young man who wants to be a coach," Cignetti said. "And he's bought into the team concept. He will always do what is best for the team first. But make no mistake, Pat Bostick is competing to be the starting quarterback, but I know he'll accept his role, whatever it may be."
Paul Zeise can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1720. First Published August 18, 2009 4:00 AM