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July 16, 2014

I’m sure you all know, but to repeat the news from this afternoon. Defensive End Ejuan Price has suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will require surgery. This will keep him out for the entire 2014 season. To say Price has had some issues with injuries is putting it kindly.

2012: Missed entire season with torn right pectoral muscle.

2013: Missed 7 out of 13 games with back problems.

2014 Will miss entire season with torn left pectoral muscle.

In a normal career, Price would be heading into his senior year. As it stands, he is looking at earning a rare 6th year for 2016. That’s about the only good news from a Pitt fan perspective.

When he is healthy, Price is an excellent DE that makes the whole D-line better. With him out, though, one of the very thin positions on the team is that much more precarious.

His injury depletes an already-thin position for the Panthers. Senior David Durham and sophomore Shakir Soto are the likely starters at defensive end, but Price’s absence could mean an increased role for redshirt freshman Luke Maclean or even freshman Rori Blair.

There is also redshirt freshman Justin Moody and freshman Shane Roy, but they didn’t play in the WPIAL so let’s not concern ourselves too much with them (and yes, I know neither did Maclean, but if you are going to ignore another redshirt freshman and true freshman¬† that are considered about equal to mention a WPIAL player, well…).


I feel bad for Price. He’s had nothing but bad luck with injuries and their severity.

The entire defensive line was going to be a question mark after losing Aaron Donald and Tryon Ezell inside. We may be getting ready for 2013 mid-season level concerns about the O-line¬† for the D-line heading into the season. NO! I’m not panicking. Really!

Now, Sam Werner at the P-G doesn’t think this means much of a change for James Conner. At least for this year.

Conner is a running back, first and foremost (and a good one, at that). Whatever role he plays on defense was always going to be determined by the workload he can physically handle, and that’s still the case. Unless the coaching staff has a very different vision for Conner’s future, I have a hard time believing they’d take a guy that ran for 799 yards as a true freshman and move him to the other side of the ball just to fill a numbers hole. He might have more of an opportunity to play some snaps based on Price’s injury, but I don’t think it means Conner will become a regular in the defensive end rotation.

I’m not so sure. There is ignoring the fact that Issac Bennett is still there, and up until the Pizza Bowl, he was not that different from Conner’s production. Plus incoming freshman Chris James. Then there is the fact that Conner himself, at least seems to be cautiously acknowledging that the longer term potential — NFL/economically — may be at DE.

I don’t know what the right choice on that aspect will be. I would hope that the Pitt coaches are emphasizing opportunities for any DEs they are recruiting for the 2015 class.

I thought Price used his medical redshirt for the 2012 season. Was that a regular redshirt or can he get a 2nd medical because he didn’t use a regular one?

Comment by Nick 07.16.14 @ 9:05 pm

S T O P ! !

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.16.14 @ 9:30 pm

You technically don’t use your Medical Red until after you use your “God Given Right” original redshirt. Best wishes to Ejuan! I think this speaks more to the need to have depth at every position, which it looks like Pitt has on the O line and TE and is trying to develop every where else. I hope to see once high school gets into session we see more DL and LB’s to give us verbals.

Comment by tedsptman 07.17.14 @ 5:12 am

Best of luck and a speedy recovery to Ejuan.

Comment by Caw Miller 07.17.14 @ 6:18 am

Devin Cook who has played both DE & DT is also likely to see action at DE … although he has had his share of injuries, though not nearly as bad as Ejuan.

Also, don’t ignore Ibrahm as a RB who has shown some talent during his brief stints last year as a frosh

Comment by wbb 07.17.14 @ 6:25 am

This spells “opportunity” for a young Panther DE that has great potential but has has very little hype surrounding his initial recruitment or his Freshman year development. Luke Maclean will be a pleasant surprise for Panther fans come September.

He was considered one of the best HS defensive players in Michigan in 2012. During his time at Pitt he has been a gym rat and has increased his strength without sacrificing his speed and quickness.

I’m not bragging on myself, but last year at this time while many we’re debating whether Chryst should have taken Shell back since our RB situation was so thin, I was exploring the option of playing a true Freshman named James Conner who looked like a man playing among boys on his HS highlight videos.

While I’m not as sold on Maclean as I was on Conner, I’m telling you that he and Soto are the future DE starters for the Panthers in 2015. Sorry about Price, he sure has had a tough road, but the next man up is Luke and I feel that he is going to take full advantage of this opportunity.

If this prediction pans out, Price will probably never see the field again in a Panther uniform.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.17.14 @ 6:38 am

Dr. Tom… you were far from alone on predicting success for James Conner.

I, for one, posted way back before Conner even signed with Pitt that despite all the talk of D-End… he would clearly make his mark at Pitt as a Runningback. NFL is another story.

And I’m sure there are others who predicted the same.

As for Maclean, you’re alone here. Don’t have an opinion as to how good he’s going to be.

Hope you’re right.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.17.14 @ 7:26 am

Pectoral injuries are fairly rare. This is second, right and left according to the paper. Add to that the back injury last year and you have to feel very badly for the young man. Way to much pain and rehab.

Let’s hope Dr Tom is right again! We need more pass rushers.

Comment by gc 07.17.14 @ 7:32 am

Regardless of who it is… you would think there has got to be a D-End somewhere on the roster not named “Conner” who is capable of stepping up and filling the hole created by Price’s injury.

Not to say they will bring the same kind of production.

At 6 Foot and 255 lbs. and with a burst, Price created mismatches for taller O-Linemen trying to keep him out of the backfield.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.17.14 @ 7:42 am

One thing I will say about the D-End situation, I’m anxious to see what Soto can do this year.

That play against Miami where he nearly ran down the WR from behind was one of those “WOW” moments.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.17.14 @ 7:52 am

That’s really too bad about Ejuan. Since I wasn’t impressed with Durham at all last year. Don’t think he even made double digit tackles with all games combined last year.

They’d be better off playing someone with some potential than a senior with none. imo

Comment by Emel 07.17.14 @ 8:04 am

What about the middle of the line? How is the DT position shaking up?

Comment by tedsptman 07.17.14 @ 8:07 am

E. Price is just plain too good to not see the field again. Let’s hope he stays encouraged thru rehab (again) and is able to use his God given talent for his last 2 years of eligibility. Stay strong Ejuan, we will wait for your return!

Comment by Pittman4ever 07.17.14 @ 8:11 am

Side note: while Pittman and pittman4ever are close in name, please know we are not the same Pitt fan blogger. I have no idea who Pittman is, but like the rest of us we all want to see our panthers do well!

Comment by Pittman4ever 07.17.14 @ 8:17 am

@ tedsptman, HCPC has already eluded to the fact that AD is irreplaceable with only one body. Therefore, he has already accepted the fact that the interior of the DL will be by committee. The Panthers are much deeper at that position than most realize, the actual issue is one of lack of playing time experience, not bodies.

Personally, I would love to see our only Hawaiian recruit ever, Jeremiah Talini, have the chance to come to the table with some production this season. That is just too good a story to see passed up. The press would have a ball writing about this kid, who decided to go a very long way from home to play nature college football.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.17.14 @ 8:38 am


Comment by Dr. Tom 07.17.14 @ 8:40 am

DL Connor Dintino, earned All-American status as a wrestler at 6-3, 295. Good skills for a defensive tackle.

Comment by notrocketscience 07.17.14 @ 9:27 am

I, for one, wouldn’t want to tangle with that guy!!! H2P!

Comment by pittman4ever 07.17.14 @ 9:38 am

Belwo is the updated roster listing of the DL — Render and Mosley-Smith have the experience at DT, and Jarrett and Moody have been mentioned as looking good in practice. Saw Jarrett in Big 33 a couple of years ago and he stood out (in a couple of ways.

92 Rori Blair DE FR 6-4/230 Pittsburgh, PA (Upper St. Clair)
96 Devin Cook DE RS JR 6-4/240 Beaver Falls, PA (Beaver Falls)
76 Connor Dintino DT FR 6-3/295 Mashpee, MA (Choate Rosemary Hall (CT))
44 David Durham DE RS SR 6-1/240 Charlotte, NC (Christian)
66 Mike Herndon DT FR 6-4/320 Greenville, VA (Riverheads)
54 Tyrique Jarrett DT SO 6-3/335 Pittsburgh, PA (Taylor Allderdice)
55 Luke Maclean DE RS FR 6-5/260 Grand Blanc, MI (Grand Blanc)
56 Justin Moody DT RS FR 6-3/280 Philadelphia, PA (George Washington)
95 Khaynin Mosley-Smith DT RS JR 6-0/310 Pittsburgh, PA (Woodland Hills)
64 Trent Neavin DT RS FR 6-0/260 Martins Ferry, OH (Martins Ferry)
5 Ejuan Price DE RS JR 6-0/255 Pittsburgh, PA (Woodland Hills)
91 Darryl Render DT JR 6-2/275 Cleveland, OH (St. Edward)
93 Shane Roy DE FR 6-4/245 Reading, OH (Reading)
98 LaQuentin Smith DT SR 6-2/280 Orlando, FL (Dr. Phillips)
52 Shakir Soto DE SO 6-3/270 Wilkes-Barre, PA (G.A.R. Memorial)
94 Jeremiah Taleni DT RS FR 6-2/295 Kaneohe, HI (Kailua)
90 Hez Trahan DE FR 6-4/250 Philadelphia, PA (Roman Catholic)

Comment by wbb 07.17.14 @ 11:50 am

Taleni is listed at 295 …. wasn’t he supposed to be one of those large Hawaiians?

Comment by wbb 07.17.14 @ 11:52 am

Dintino is going to be a good one and let’s not forget about Mike Herndon from the state of Virginia either. He passed up a VT scholarship to come to Pitt. What a highlight reel this kid has playing LB in HS with the background music being “The Sandman” Devestating tackles this guy put on running backs, impressive twosome those guys. But we speak of the future when considering their talents.

Neither one of them are likely to see playing time this season though. RS for both of them while they get into the system during their Freshman year. The guys who’s turn it is are the likes of Tyrique Jarrett, Justin Moody and as I’ve already mentioned Taleni. K. K. Smith dodged a bullet last year, to even be remaining on the team after his association with the drug dealing bust that went down last year that resulted in both of the other players involved in the incident being given their walking papers off the team. Especially for Smith, his time is NOW! I sure hope that he doesn’t squander his opportunity to make a significant contribution to the DL cause, his services are dearly needed.

Another “Smith” might be ready to see action this season too, that would be LaQuentin Smith, so all told we have six legit players who have been in the system for at least a year, with K.K. and Darryl Render really being the seasoned older guys that have to be considered the incoming starters when fall camp begins. If we find four of those six who can be major contributors on a routine basis and they can keep the injury bug at bay for this year, then we’ll be just fine up the middle on defense.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.17.14 @ 11:53 am

I could watch SEC Media days all day. All coaches are Big Time and the Media Team sent to cover have tons of good info. SEC Channel will kill it.

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.17.14 @ 11:56 am

You been on vacation Upitt? Haven’t heard a negative word from you in what seems like weeks.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.17.14 @ 12:10 pm

In charge of 200 reviews Doc. By the way was in the mountains of Georgia the other day and had a nice time. Hope all is well in your new digs. I sure hope we hear from Frankcan!

Doc I don’t have anything to complain about except we need to invest in baseball or pay for a better coach neither of which I see happening.

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.17.14 @ 12:15 pm

@ wbb, Taleni came in last year at over 300 lbs, and it didn’t look to me that it was all muscle. If he is now 295, then he’s dropped some weight, and my guess is that the workout regime and weight room routine at Pitt has converted some of that Hawiian poi produced pudginess into a more fit defensive lineman, a leaner more muscular player is the result. In any case, a 295 LB man is hardly a runt playing on the DL.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.17.14 @ 4:01 pm

Tony Pilato to Pitt, no shortage of lineman. Hoping they focus on defense with last remaining ships. Wish list McKee, Brightwell, Stocker, Q.Sheppard.

Comment by pd 07.17.14 @ 4:26 pm

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