Well this was a bummer of a press release.
Pitt sophomore tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith, expected to contend for a starting position on the Panthers’ offensive line, will miss the 2015 season due to a right knee injury.
Jones Smith (Voorhees, N.J./West Catholic [Pa.]) sustained the injury during an offseason conditioning session. He was a significant member of Pitt’s offensive front last year as a redshirt freshman, playing in all 13 games and making three starts.
“We are incredibly disappointed for Jaryd,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “Our entire team will rally behind him as he works to overcome this challenge. Jaryd is a great young man and a tough competitor. Even though he is sidelined this year, he is going to remain an important member of our team this fall.”
It was expected that Jones-Smith would take man the right OT spot this season. It’s a tough, tough break for Jones-Smith. For the Pitt offense it hurts, but it isn’t that devastating.
Jones-Smith was a solid recruit (3-stars, offers from Arizona, NC State, Michigan), but not considered a linchpin to the O-line’s future. He developed much quicker than expected, and at times was one of the best O-linemen not named T.J. Clemmings on the field last year for Pitt.
If there is one thing that can be pointed to as a clear plus for the Paul Chryst period, it was the work done to build real depth on the O-line. Something not seen since… I don’t even know for sure.
Aaron Reese was named his back-up on the 2-deep coming out of spring practice. There are other options, though, that would require a little bit of line shuffling.
…redshirt freshman Alex Bookser, who played tackle at Mt. Lebanon, but was Pitt’s right guard this spring.
Moving Bookser would create more movement on the offensive line, with sophomore center Alex Officer possibly moving to guard and senior Artie Rowell regaining his accustomed spot at center. Rowell missed most of last season with a knee injury, but he could be ready for the start of training camp Aug. 10.
With a new coaching staff, I’m not as sure what they will do. Chryst and staff, I think would put Rowell back at center (if he’s healthy and ready), with the plan DiPaola laid out. Not sure what Narduzzi will do.
The good news is that there are options, and actual time to figure this out. It didn’t happen in season. It didn’t even happen in training camp. There will be some competition in camp to get the best five on the line.