Pitt senior guard Chris Jacobson is recovering from an ACL injury, so he is doing a lot more watching than playing during spring football drills.
That might be difficult to do this year because of the physical style of football new head coach Paul Chryst has implemented for the Panthers linemen. The style is much different than Pitt's spread offense under Todd Graham last season.
"We're playing real football again," Jacobson said Tuesday after the Panthers' fourth spring practice. "I mean, the guys are out there pulling and being really physical and being able to study defenses. I love it. It is great to be able to double team guys, pull around and hit people -- that's how I love to play.
"We're blowing the defensive line off the ball and taking care of the line scrimmage and working up to the next level. It isn't finesse anymore; we're back to banging heads.
"But standing there and watching all this is driving me nuts. I want to jump in and hit somebody."
Jacobson has remained engaged in the practices, learning the plays and studying the offensive line and defense so that when he finally takes the field in the fall he will be ready to roll.
Jacobson, who was granted a sixth season by the NCAA, said he is not 100 percent healthy, but his knee is healing well and is getting stronger. Through his work with Pitt's trainers and conditioning staff, he has gotten most of his strength and quickness back.
He has been cleared to do some one-on-one work with offensive line coach Jim Hueber and he can do some drills, but he said he will not participate in any contact during the spring.
Jacobson will, however, be a starter once camp opens, but his position is not necessarily set in stone.
He likely will play guard, but he said he may actually get a chance to play center, which may be strange considering how well Ryan Turnley manned the position last season. But Turnley played center in an entirely different offense.
Last season, the center was asked to make a shotgun snap on just about every play, but this season the quarterback will be lined up under the center the majority of the time.
Jacobson said either position will be fine, although he believes his future as an NFL player may be at center. He just wants to get back onto the field.
"So far it seems like guard but we've talked about center," Jacobson said. "I think that we have to find five guys, like every year, and see where everyone fits."
The Panthers have to rebuild along the line as their top three tackles -- Lucas Nix, Greg Gaskins and Jordan Gibbs -- were seniors last season.
Jacobson said the cupboard isn't bare because some younger players who are being shuffled around this spring played a lot of football last season.
"I know it seems like we're rebuilding, but a lot of these guys got experience last year due to injury or due to the lineup being shuffled," Jacobson said. "So the unit isn't as inexperienced as it appears, we just need to come together and we have to commit to this thing every day. We can't take a day off."
Jacobson, who graduated from Keystone Oaks High School, started all 13 games at left guard for the Panthers in 2010 as a junior and started the first three games of the 2011 season.
But his knee was injured in the third game of the season against Iowa and he had to have season-ending ACL surgery, leaving a gaping hole in the lineup.
The NCAA granted Jacobson a sixth year of eligibility because he lost his entire freshman season because of a broken leg.
Paul Zeise: email@example.com or 412-263-1720