Pitt Football: Stull gets nod for QB start

Wannstedt makes an early declaration

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And just like that, coach Dave Wannstedt quashed the notion that there is a starting-quarterback competition at Pitt's football training camp.

Wannstedt made this very clear to reporters after the first scrimmage of camp yesterday.

"[Senior] Bill Stull is the starting quarterback," Wannstedt said. "And these other guys, well, obviously we are in training camp, we have to improve. I don't think it is as much as [they] have to prove anything as much as [they] just improve every day."

Now that Stull, a Seton-LaSalle High School graduate, has been declared the starter, redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri (Central Catholic) and junior Pat Bostick are left to jockey for position behind him on the depth chart. Wannstedt said that all three will continue to get work, at least through training camp.

The declaration was surprising, considering that Stull has struggled during camp and appeared to be losing ground in recent days to Sunseri, who has begun to get first-team reps in every practice. Bostick, however, again worked only with the second team, which seems to indicate that he is headed for a role as backup or, perhaps, even a redshirt.

During yesterday's scrimmage, Stull's first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by defensive back Jared Holley. Stull completed 9 of 14 passes for 57 yards, but all the completions were short, safe passes, and he led one touchdown drive.

Sunseri was 6 for 7 for 60 yards and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Jon Tisak. Sunseri appeared to throw a second touchdown pass, a fade to receiver Jonathan Baldwin, but Baldwin dropped it in the corner of the end zone.

Stull knows the job is his to lose and said that to this point he doesn't feel as though he has done anything to lose it but wants to continue to work hard to prove he deserves it.

"I feel that if I don't play well, I am not going to play," Stull said. "I feel that it is a competition, and I know how it is around here and I am going to compete and do my best, and the guys behind me are going to do the same. It is good to hear [Wannstedt declare me the starter], but I have to prove him right."

The news that Stull was called the starter by Wannstedt was a bit of a surprise to Sunseri, who said offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti is treating the quarterback position as "open competition."

"We are all trying to help each other every day," Sunseri said. "Whatever we can do to help the team is what we're going to try and do, and whoever can do it the best is going to be able to play. And coach Cignetti is very, very into that about that competition."

Although the quarterbacks took center stage, the competition for the starting tailback seems to be taking shape.

Freshman Dion Lewis seems to be making a strong case to be the starter, and he had another good day, rushing 13 times for 42 yards and a touchdown.

That leaves redshirt freshman Chris Burns and freshman Ray Graham, who hurt his cause with two fumbles yesterday, to battle to be in the tailback rotation with Lewis.

"I thought the one who was most consistent today was Dion Lewis," Wannstedt said. "But we're going to have to watch the film and see, obviously."

NOTES -- The list of the walking wounded has grown over the past two days, though, none of the injuries are considered serious. These players sat out of the scrimmage: receiver Cedric McGee (hamstring), linebacker Carl Fleming (headaches), tight ends Dorin Dickerson (hamstring) and Nate Byham (headaches), defensive back Marco Pecora (ankle), defensive back Buddy Jackson (jaw), center Wayne Jones (knee), safeties Irvan Brown (calf) and Elijah Fields (foot), tailback Shariff Harris (hamstring), tight end Andrew Devlin (knee), quarterback Kolby Gray (shoulder), tackle Lucas Nix (leg infection) and wide receiver Mike Shanahan (hand). Also, defensive end Tony Tucker had an excused absence and defensive tackle Mick Williams was dressed but given the afternoon off. Defensive tackle Tyler Tkach had foot surgery and will be out at least three weeks. ...Tailback Jason Douglas had an unspecified leg injury during the scrimmage. ...Tight end Mike Cruz returned to practice after missing three days for personal reasons. ... Dan Hutchins and Kevin Harper were perfect in four place-kicking attempts (two field goals, two extra points) and Hutchins punted twice for a 39-yard average, including a pooch punt to the 1.

Paul Zeise can be reached at pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720


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