Adam Bisnowaty is not picky. After missing the final four games last season and all of spring practice with a back injury, the sophomore offensive lineman just wants to get on the field.
“If I’m a tackle and that’s the best position for our team, I’ll play tackle,” Bisnowaty said. “If they want me at guard as the best position for our team, then I’ll play guard. They want me at center, tight end, quarterback, I will.”
Bisnowaty most likely will be starting for the Panthers at left tackle when they open the season Aug. 30 against Delaware. That is the position he practiced while he redshirted as a freshman in 2012 and played before his injury last season.
But in the past two practices, he has also seen some time with the second team at left guard. Offensive line coach Jim Hueber said this was just to work out some emergency scenarios in case a lineman or two get hurt.
“I have to have an eye on what we’re going to do when we’re going to start putting the team together,” Hueber said Wednesday. “What we would do if something would go wrong, rather than just say, ‘Hey we have some guys.’ I’m not sure that some of our redshirt freshmen are ready yet.
“It really is ‘What’s the fit?’ I think [Bisnowaty] is the guy that can move inside rather than [backup left tackle] Jaryd [Jones-Smith].”
But coach Paul Chryst said Thursday there might be something more to the Panthers’ offensive line shuffling. Even though the starting five have remained essentially unchanged since the start of training camp, Chryst said there still could be changes before Pitt opens the season in a little more than two weeks.
“That one’s not done yet,” he said. “We’ve got to find out who the five best are.”
At whatever position he ends up, Bisnowaty will almost certainly be one of those top five. Despite missing most of the on-field portion of spring practices, Bisnowaty said he still used the time as best he could.
He participated in individual drills and spent his extra time in the film and weight rooms.
“Lots of film, lots of strengthening in the weight room,” he said. “I was just trying to get my strength back and get back to being stronger than I was before. I believe I got all that and more.”
Bisnowaty, a former four-star recruit, had dealt with back issues since his high school days at Fox Chapel. When asked if he felt any lingering effects Thursday, he said “nothing,” and credited the new strength and conditioning program implemented this offseason by coach Ross Kolodziej.
“I think with his program, we all feel good,” Bisnowaty said. “Right now, we’re even lifting during camp. We’re lifting a lot, too, and we’re feeling good while we’re doing it. That’s a big plus compared to the years in the past, since I’ve been here at least.”
In turn, Bisnowaty said he has seen the competition level increase on the field, especially across the offensive line. That might lead to situations such as this one, where the position is still a bit unsettled heading into the final few weeks of training camp. But Bisnowaty welcomes the challenge.
“As people compete, you become more competitive and become better and better,” he said. “That’s how it works out here. That’s how people pass each other up. When people take a day off or close their eyes for a second, who knows what will happen?”
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG.