NCAA FB

Bennett giving Pitt hope after Shell's departure

Share This Story

   
 

PITTSBURGH (AP)

It's a post-Rushel Shell world, and Pitt's just living in it.

Shell was expected to fill the void left by departed senior Ray Graham and become the next in a line of 1,000-yard backs at Pitt, a list that includes Graham, Dion Lewis, and LeSean McCoy.

Instead, Shell abruptly left the program following his freshman season and eventually transferred to West Virginia. His departure left a significant hole on the depth chart, one a host of backs are hoping to fill.

Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crocket - who combined for 191 yards rushing in 2012 - are the only returning players who took snaps out of the backfield last fall. While they will get the first crack at the starting spot, they won't lack for competition.

''We're working on getting guys reps to see what they can do,'' coach Paul Chryst said. ''We've still got a lot of work to do.''

If anything has been learned from the first week of Chryst's second training camp as coach, it's that just about any position is up for grabs.

Joining Bennett and Crockett in the group receiving significant reps out of the backfield include freshman James Conner and redshirt senior Desmond Brown, the younger brother of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.

While multiple players are in the rotation, Bennett appears to be the early leader to be on the field when Pitt hosts Florida State in the season opener on Sept. 2.

''I thought he did some good stuff,'' Chryst said. ''He missed a couple cuts. He's working and I like his approach.''

Bennett, a junior, has the most experience out of the group. He carried 58 times for 237 yards and two scores as a freshman in 2011, but was pushed to the third on the depth chart with Shell's arrival.

Now that Shell is gone Bennett's opportunity at a starting job became much more attainable, and Bennett has set a lofty goal for this season,

''At least 1,000 yards minimum,'' Bennett said.

Behind Bennett, Crockett is in play for reps as well after he rushed 12 times for 50 yards in his freshman season. In Pitt spring game, Crockett took 11 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. Brown is also in the mix. He lugged a game-high 18 times for 90 yards in the spring game.

Conner's current focus, though, is not on the starting job but adjusting his running game to the college football level.

''In high school you don't pay attention to details, you just run,'' Conner said. ''We're in the film room every day and taking the steps with our footwork.''

Experience puts Conner slightly behind Bennett and Crockett, but Chryst has seen good things out of the 18-year-old freshman.

''I love the way he's approaching everything,'' Chryst said. ''As he understands what's going on in front of him that'll help, and he's certainly earned the right to more reps.''

As of now, the coaching staff only has the spring game and a week of camp to base its decisions off when it comes to creating a depth chart. One thing working in favor of the backs is daily experience against a defense that should be one of the ACC's toughest.

''Running against them will make it easier come game time,'' Conner said. ''I believe our defense is one of the greatest.''

While the running backs go against the likes of Aaron Donald and others, don't expect to see Chryst tip his hand too long before the Panthers face the Seminoles at Heinz Field on Labor Day night.

''There is no depth chart right now,'' Chryst said. ''Everyone has to prove they can provide a role we can rely on and play with.''

Tagged: Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown, Isaac Bennett, Desmond Brown

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Mark Emmert against unionization Posted: Apr 06, 2014
NCAA president Mark Emmert comments on unionization for student-athletes.

Northwestern athletes win unionization case Posted: Mar 26, 2014
FOX Football debates the implications of student-athletes being able to unionize...

Saban lectures media on Kouandjio's injury Posted: Mar 12, 2014
Nick Saban has some words for the media after the way Cyrus Kouandjio's knee inj...

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash