March 6, 2007

Andy Lee could continue his career at Heinz Field with the Steelers.

The Steelers have signed free agent punter Andy Lee to an offer sheet, agent Eddie Edwards confirmed today.

Lee, who played collegiately at Pitt, was a sixth-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers in 2004. Last season he averaged 44.8 yards per punt (gross) to rank sixth in the NFC and seventh in the NFL.

First off, I’m not fully sure what an offer sheet is. Pro sports financial type terms confuse me. I can barely explain Restricted Free Agency so “offer sheet” is way out of my range. Thankfully none of that has infiltrated college athletics.

Lee’s average is fairly better than what the Steelers have seen from Chris Gardocki. Gardocki has never had a punt blocked in his career but I might be able to pull that off too if I didn’t spend time trying to actually get a good punt off. I wouldn’t mind seeing Lee compete for the job in training camp against Gardocki and Mike Barr who probably should have got the punting spot in 2006.

Just so those of you tuning into the Big East Tournament, 2 pm game, don’t scream in shock and fear, Nike is debuting their new b-ball unis starting in conference tournaments. Florida, Arizona, Ohio State and Syracuse will be wearing the new look. Something that has been compared to team wedding dresses or almost gladiator-esque. A snug-spandex contoured top with sleeves and shorts that — well — baggy doesn’t even begin to describe.

You’ve been warned.

Thank god Pitt is not a Nike school.

Pitt Spring Practice Capsule

Filed under: Football,Practice — Dennis @ 10:24 am

Seeing this got me very excited for some reason. Even as we’re starting to embark upon the greatest time of the year with all of the conference hoops tourneys, any thoughts of football starting up again are great in my book. I guess it’s nice to get away from our basketball woes for a few seconds.

Spring practice starting date: March 17

Spring game: April 14

Top returner: WR Derek Kinder. Kinder emerged as a junior for a team-leading 847 yards. Like the rest of the team, he faded down the stretch – partially because of the emergence of redshirt freshman Oderick Turner. The veteran wideout will need to be more of a threat in the passing game with a new quarterback under center.

Player on the verge: CB Aaron Berry: Tyler Palko was the starting quarterback and H.B. Blades piled on the tackles, but cornerback Darelle Revis will be tougher to replace than either of them. The sophomore Berry, who was a four-star recruit in 2005, will get a crack at the position opposite rising senior Kennard Cox.

Impact newcomer: RB LeSean McCoy: Like Ford, McCoy is another prep school player who had a change of heart in the last year. McCoy committed to Miami out of high school but signed with Pitt after a year at New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy. McCoy should provide a power option to counter LaRod Stephens-Howling‘s speed game.

The big question: What’s next now that Palko, Blades and Revis are gone? If Pitt went 11-12 with those three players over the last two seasons, what happens now that they’re gone? Entering year three, Dave Wannstedt will be put to the test in finding a new quarterback among the inexperienced Bill Stull, Kevan Smith and incoming freshman Pat Bostick. A former NFL head coach and defensive coordinator, Wannstedt has his work cut out for him with the 107th-ranked rush defense in the country.

Well, after reading those last few lines, I’ve been shot back down to Earth.

It’s nothing personal against the Red Storm. Under normal circumstances, I would actually give them a 40% chance against Marquette in the Garden for the Big East Tournament game, especially if Jerel McNeal is expected to be out. Except that the Johnnies best player Senior Lamont Hamilton will be out for the rest of the year (1 more game) with a partial tear in the patella tendon of his left knee. St. John’s lost Daryll Hill earlier in the season to injury. I mean, even with both of them, they wouldn’t have been much better than their record. But, now they have no chance.

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