Devin Street continues to do nothing to diminsh that expectation that the passing game will be a lot better:
“That’s their moneymaker,” he said. Street said he has been getting ample time to build an on-field relationship with Savage.
“If I have to (stop a route short), he knows I’m doing that. It’s about getting in sync with each other. Tommy’s doing a great job. It’s totally different from last year.”
Safe to say the only people more openly happier than Devin Street that Tom Savage is the QB this year is Tom Savage’s family.
Coming into camp, the question was who was the number two wide receiver. No one wanted to say right away that Tyler Boyd would be that guy as a freshman. Everyone wanted to make sure he earned it.
He has in all but official designation.
Savage is the only player Chryst has designated to start, but freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd is getting close to winning a job. “Tyler brings great maturity to us, great work ethic,” Chryst said.
Street said he is amazed at Boyd’s progress. “He is just a smart kid and he’s hungry, too. He is definitely going to be an asset for our offense. You need the maturity level to be out there because you are going against grown men.”
Everyone who has watched a practice or scrimmage has raved about Boyd out there. A little more than a week into camp he was already a regular on the first team offense. The only thing that makes it surprising is the understanding that Boyd wasn’t really a wide receiver in high school. Yes, that is how everyone recruited him and the position he was going to play. But it wasn’t what he did in high school, per se.
Make no mistake about it: Boyd is still adjusting to the role of being full-time college receiver, and the intricacies and perfection demanded from the position are still challenging for him. Whereas Boyd had a single route to run in high school, he now has to know the entire route concept while making adjustments during the play based on coverages.
The freshman receiver has put in extra time on everything – film study, weight room, staying after practice, taking mental reps if he’s not on the field – to continue improving, and he has also been helped by the upper classmen with the offense’s nuances.
Still, he knows he has a long way to go.
“Even on my best routes, I’ve got things to fix on,” he said. “If I beat the defensive back and get a good catch, get up the field, there’s still something in there I’ve got to fix, so nothing I’m doing is really great play. I just have to keep working, so I’m not good, I’ve got to be great.”
The coaches recognize Boyd’s work ethic. They’re not surprised at how quickly he has acclimated to the college game, but they appreciate his effort throughout camp, getting up to speed. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said Boyd continues to learn the offense and work toward a full understanding of everything, but he likes what he’s seen.
“I’ve been more than impressed with him, not only in his ability, but who he is as a person,” Rudolph said. “His approach, his demeanor when he does something well, his demeanor when he does something poorly, he just seems to be ‘next play.’ It’s great.
“He’s made the play when the play’s been there. He’s played fast. His understanding is what you always worry about, and it’s really coming along. He shows a great reception area to catch the ball. The speed he plays at, I mean he has a chance to do a really nice job for us this year.”
Boyd has not shown cockiness that tends to be associated with highly ranked receivers. Devin Street has been happy to help him and Boyd has been more than receptive to that assistance.
Boyd credited a good part of his acclimation to Street, who could end his career this year as Pitt’s all-time leading receiver. Even when the two are doing something like sharing a meal, Street schools Boyd on routes and coverages.
“If I didn’t have anybody shadowing me, I think I would’ve been way underconfident with myself and what I’m doing,” Boyd said. “I’ve got a great player and a great role model like him.”
Boyd already is looking forward to going against ACC defenses this season with Street.
“Me coming on the offense I think will open it up because [Street is] going to get more triple- and double-teams,” Boyd said. “People are going to think of me as just a freshman.
“That’s where I come in.”
Well, if not Street and Boyd there are the tight ends. Starting with J.P. Holtz and Manasseh Garner. While Holtz is the more traditional tight end — with very underrated receiving abilities -- Garner has more experience and the exotic flair of being more of a hybrid TE/H-back.
Garner plays a position that’s not quite a tight end but also not quite a wide receiver. At 230 pounds now, he’s big enough to stay in and block but also athletic enough to line up on the perimeter at receiver.
“I think he relishes the ability to come in and block, and I think he likes being a playmaker on the perimeter,” Rudolph said. “I think those are two positives. Some guys don’t like to come inside when they can play outside, but he can do all of it for you.”
Garner had 10 catches for 100 yards in Pitt’s spring game and spent the summer further developing his rapport with Savage, a relationship that started last year with the two of them counting down the days until they could play.
“He’s just a great person,” Savage said. “He really understands the game. He’s on top of his game and he’s going to be fun to play with.”
And adding to the mix is freshman TE Scott Orndoff. He enrolled early to get a start on spring practices and will likely see a role in the offense like J.P. Holtz had last year.
More surprising than Orndoff and Boyd being locks to see the field this year to help the passing game is Freshman Fullback/H-back. In no small part because of the hits he places while as a blocking fullback.
Freshman fullback/H-back Jaymar Parrish continues to impress coaches with his physicality. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Parrish put one of the most dominant hits of camp on cornerback Titus Howard, who is about 50 pounds lighter. “Me and Titus, we are boys,” Parrish said. “We were laughing at each other.” Parrish said he also has placed similar hits on linebackers that have caught the attention of coaches during video study. “They tell me, ‘Nice pop on the linebackers or great footwork.’ But there are always things they tell me I have to improve on.” Parrish has been getting plenty of opportunities in practice. “I didn’t think I was going to get this many,” he said.
But also his ability to catch the ball.
Pitt’s offense has evolved over the past year. Both the fullbacks and H-backs have the same responsibilities, but it hasn’t been daunting for Parrish. He said he’s asked many things now that he did at Gateway.
“The coaches try to keep it simple for us,” he said, “not dumb it down, but they keep it in a context where we can understand the plays and get the feel of everything.”
Parrish, 6’2″ 230, has shown flashes of his ability to contribute throughout camp. On Monday, he caught a pass in the flat and ran in the open field, gaining over 10 yards and moving the chains.
As much as Coach Paul Chryst and the coaching staff have preached their great desire to redshirt players as much as possible, they are pragmatic. If the player is good enough, puts in the work then at the very least they will end up on the 2-deep.