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  College Player Notes by School: Pittsburgh  
Previous 25 Pittsburgh Notes Next 25 Pittsburgh Notes

04/22/15 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240
Pitt junior running back James Conner is a workhorse. In his sophomore year, he reset the record books with 26 rushing touchdowns and his 1,765 yards rushing were the fourth-highest total in school history. Yet for all of Conner's heavy workload - he averaged nearly 23 carries a game - there was something missing. The reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year had only five catches for 70 receiving yards. It's a stat both Conner and first-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney would like to improve in 2015. "It was obvious when I came out of the game what was going to happen," Conner said. "I will still get my fair share of carries. I need to just try to expand my game."

Conner said he didn't have extensive knowledge of the passing offense a year ago. Conner figured his main job was to ground and pound his way through any defense that was thrown at him. He is working to fix that during spring drills. "I had a little trouble learning the playbook," Conner said. "My role was to be successful running the ball. It is exciting. I haven't had a receiving touchdown since I have been here, so hopefully I will get one this year." Conner's optimism is resonating throughout spring drills for the Panthers, who have one more week left before the Blue-Gold scrimmage next Saturday.

As a defensive coach throughout his career, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi knows the importance of keeping the defenders off balance. Conner had no problem running the ball, but adding the passing dimension will make it that more difficult to game plan around him. "It isn't a matter of getting him more involved in the passing game, it is a matter of just keeping him on the field because he is so good at whatever he wants to be," Narduzzi said. "That is the point. To me, if I am a defensive guy, and he is only on the field to run, that is a tip for the defense. If people see him line up in passing plays, it will throw them off." - AP Sports

03/07/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
2015 Pro Days: Five Takeaways from Week One...3. OL coaches flock to Pitt to see Clemmings: There isn't an offensive lineman in the 2015 draft boasting more athletic upside than Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings, a former defensive end turned right tackle who some believe ultimately will be the first offensive lineman selected this year. Though Clemmings elected not to do any timed drills at his Tuesday Pro Day, that didn't stop offensive line coaches from the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams from traveling to personally view the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder's position workout. Scouts on hand tell me that Clemmings' workout was outstanding. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

03/03/15 - (SS) - Ray Vinopal, rSr, 5-10, 197
Former Pitt safety Ray Vinopal's arms were like two well-oiled pistons, repeatedly lifting the 225-pound weighted bar over his head. His teammates shouted in support of his NFL dreams. Meanwhile, a total of 41 scouts and personnel people from 27 teams watched stoically Tuesday during Pitt's Pro Day, playing poker with each other, scribbling on their clipboards. At 5-foot-10, 198 pounds, Vinopal recorded 26 bench-press reps. To understand the significance of his efforts, some perspective is necessary: Matt Rotheram, a 323-pound guard, lifted the bar 22 times. Vinopal's total was more than all but one safety was able to do last month at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Southern Cal's Josh Shaw also did 26. Vinopal was not invited to the combine. Perhaps he believed he had something to prove, but he was not surprised by his efforts. "I was actually shooting for 30," he said.

He went through the entire regimen of drills: vertical jump, broad jump, a series of short directional bursts and two 40-yard sprints. He said scouts told him he was timed in between 4.49-4.56 seconds in the 40. Only three safeties at the combine finished in faster than 4.5 seconds. Alabama All-American Landon Collins, considered a consensus first-round draft choice, ran a 4.53. Later, confronted by reporters, Vinopal sounded more self-assured than smug. “I definitely think people didn't expect me to put the numbers up I did,” he said. “I think they're comparable, if not better, than anyone else who was in Indy. I knew I would bench well. I've always been strong.” Vinopal said he has had limited contact with NFL teams, but after his workout, he spent several minutes chatting with San Diego Chargers scout James MacPherson. “I hope to get some interviews to show (NFL teams) how football savvy I am,” said Vinopal, who scored 37 out of 50 last year on the Wonderlic intelligence test. - Jerry DiPaola, Tribune-Review

02/17/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
2015 DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64 DRAFT PROSPECTS: 14/4. T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh, 6-5, 307, 5.14, 1...At this point, Clemmings' ratings as a pro prospect are based almost entirely on projection, not production. Per his mother's wishes, Clemmings didn't play football until his junior year in high school. That was enough to earn a scholarship at Pittsburgh, although as a defensive end. He moved to the offensive line for the first time near the end of the 2012 season. Clemmings can be impressive on most of the individual steps required at tackle, but he has not yet learned the whole dance. He has a broad build and the pre-requisite long arms (34 7/8th inches) and nimble feet expected at left tackle. He is still in mid-learning curve as a pass blocker, which was obvious when he was victimized at the Senior Bowl practices by moves and countermoves that left him lunging the wrong way. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange

02/16/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
2015 NFL COMBINE: PROSPECTS WITH THE MOST TO GAIN OR LOSE, AGILITY TESTS AND DRILLS: OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh...A good-sized athlete at 310 pounds, Clemmings started his career on defense as a pass rusher before moving to the offensive line in 2013. He is still raw in several areas, but there is no questioning his athleticism and movement skills. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com

02/07/15 - (QB) - Nate Peterman, rJr, 6-2, 225
Pitt lands former Vols QB Peterman...Pittsburgh announced quarterback Nathan Peterman has officially transferred from Tennessee. A graduate transfer, Peterman will be eligible to play immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining. Peterman told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he chose the Panthers in part because of his relationship with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who previously held the same role with he Vols. He is expected to compete with Chad Voytik for the job this spring. Peterman redshirted as a freshman at Tennessee and started one game in 2013 before suffering a broken hand and then one more game last season. However, he was stuck behind Josh Dobbs on the depth chart and said he wanted to go somewhere with an opportunity for more playing time. - The Sports Xchange

01/22/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
2015 Senior Bowl, Wednesday: Among the North's offensive linemen, Pitt's T.J. Clemmings entered the week with the most fanfare, but he has struggled when unable to latch onto rushers. The 6-5, 307-pound Clemmings has all of the tools scouts are looking for, but gave up the inside too easily. Penn State's Donovan Smith, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise. Smith has a reputation of being lazy, but that hasn't been the case thus far this week. The 6-6, 341-pounder, has good initial quickness, a fluid kick-step and strong hands to stone pass-rushers. He has also consistently turned defenders to create space in the running game. Better yet, Smith has performed well while operating almost exclusively at left tackle. Smith is one of three underclassmen (along with Penn State DE Deion Barnes and Auburn WR Sammie Coates) granted special eligibility to compete in the Senior Bowl after graduating early. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

01/20/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: Arguably the top prospect in Mobile, Clemmings measured in a 6-foot-4 (and 5/8" inches) and 307 pounds, with nearly 35" arms (34 7/8") and big hands (10 3/8"). Clemmings' prototypical build and athleticism projects well to the next level, though scouts would like to see him play with more refined technique. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

01/20/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
2015 Senior Bowl: 10 offensive prospects to watch: OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh...My favorite prospect in Mobile this week, Clemmings has been climbing draft boards throughout the season and a positive week at the Senior Bowl could make him the consensus top senior at tackle. A former defensive end, Clemmings is a mauler who dominates in the run game, but his performance during pass protection drills will be closely scrutinized. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com

12/04/14 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240
2014 ACC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (MEDIA): Pitt running back James Conner has been selected as the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year following a standout sophomore season in which he ranks fourth nationally in rushing and set a number of conference and school records. Conner, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound native of Erie, Pennsylvania, also earned recognition as the 2014 ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Conner will enter the Panthers’ upcoming bowl game as the conference’s leading rusher with 1,675 yards and leading scorer with 144 points on 24 rushing touchdowns. The ACC Player of the Year nod went to Conner in a tight vote among 55 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA). The Pitt running back received 16 votes to finish three ahead of Florida State sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and ACC Player of the Year.

Conner’s total of 24 rushing touchdowns set an ACC single-season record, ranks second nationally and is a Pitt school record, surpassing the legendary Tony Dorsett’s previous mark of 22. Conner has also broken Dorsett’s Pitt single-season records for total TDs (23) and points scored (140). Dorsett set each of those records during his 1976 Heisman Trophy season. “We are tremendously proud of James and all that he achieved this season,” Pitt head coach Paul Chryst said. “In addition to his production on the field, James has been an excellent teammate and leader. I know our entire program takes pride in James receiving this prestigious honor.” - ACC football

12/04/14 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240
2014 ACC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR (MEDIA): A candidate for numerous national awards, Conner earned back-to-back ACC Offensive Player of the Week honors at the outset of the season. Conner opened the 2014 campaign by rushing for 153 yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries versus Delaware, and followed up with 214 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries in an ACC road win at Boston College. Conner already has 2,474 rushing yards for his career to rank 10th all-time at Pitt. Conner led the ACC Offensive Player of the Year balloting with 23 votes, followed by FSU’s Winston with 16. Miami’s Johnson was named on seven ballots, while FSU’s Greene (four), Georgia Tech’s Thomas (three) and UNC’s Williams (two) rounded out the voting. - ACC football

11/17/14 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
NOV 3 ACC CO-OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: T.J. Clemmings, Pitt, Sr.-r, RT, 6-6, 315, Teaneck, N.J.,...Clemmings spearheaded an offensive line that helped Pitt produce 594 yards in total offense against Duke, including 358 yards on the ground. Clemmings’ performance helped running back James Conner rush for a career-high 263 yards and led the Panthers’ pass protection. Clemmings also threw a key perimeter block on a screen pass to spring Tyler Boyd for 29 yards, setting up a Pitt TD. The Blue Devils entered the game with the nation’s No. 5 scoring defense (15.1 points per game), but the Panthers scored 38 in regulation and totaled 48 for the game. - ACC football

11/17/14 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240
NOV 3 ACC CO-OFFENSIVE BACK OF THE WEEK: James Conner, Pitt, So., RB, 6-2, 250, Erie, Pa.,...Conner rumbled for a career-high 263 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries (6.9 avg.) in the 51-48 double-overtime loss to Duke. Conner was not stopped behind the line of scrimmage, and his rushing total was the most this season by a player from a Power 5 conference. Perhaps his most impressive sequence came in the game’s initial overtime period with Pitt needing to respond to a Duke touchdown. Conner accounted for all 25 yards with three runs, including a 14-yard TD in which he ran through four would-be tacklers. Conner is the nation’s leading rusher with 1,342 yards and ranks third nationally with 17 rushing touchdowns. Conner’s 1,342 rushing yards are the third most after nine games in Pitt history. - ACC football

10/28/14 - (P) - Ryan Winslow, rSo, 6-4, 210
OCT 20 ACC SPECIALIST OF THE WEEK: Ryan Winslow, Pitt, Fr.-r, P, 6-5, 210, Maple Glen, Pa.,...Winslow significantly impacted the field position battle in Pitt’s win over Virginia Tech by dropping five of his seven punts inside the 15-yard line, including four inside the 10 (at the Hokies’ 1-, 5-, 6- and 9-yard line). He tied his career long with a 50-yard punt that placed the Hokies at their own 12-yard line and averaged 41.6 yards on seven punts for the game. - ACC football

10/28/14 - (FS) - Reggie Mitchell, rJr, 6-0, 190
OCT 20 ACC DEFENSIVE BACK OF THE WEEK: Reggie Mitchell, Pitt, So.-r, CB, 6-0, 185, Pittsburgh, Pa.,...Mitchell spearheaded a defensive effort that limited Virginia Tech to just 291 yards – 120 yards under its season average – in last Thursday’s 21-16 Panthers win. Mitchell collected a game-high 10 tackles (nine solo) and forced two fumbles, one of which came at the Virginia Tech 22-yard line and set up a touchdown that put Pitt up 14-3 late in the second quarter. - ACC football

10/28/14 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
OCT 20 ACC CO-OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: T.J. Clemmings, Pitt, Sr.-r, RT, 6-6, 315. Teaneck, N.J.,...Clemmings’ performance helped Pitt pile up 210 yards rushing against a Virginia Tech defense that ranked 16th nationally against the run (108.8 avg.) in last Thursday night’s 21-16 win over Virginia Tech. Clemmings helped quarterback Chad Voytik lead all rushers with 118 yards and also provided air-tight pass protection from his right tackle spot. - ACC football

10/16/14 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240
Pittsburgh broke a three-game losing streak with a 21-16 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday night at Heinz Field. The Panthers (4-3, 2-1) outgained the Hokies with a 331-291 yardage advantage. Quarterback Chad Voytik passed for 92 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 118 yards on 19 carries. Tailback James Conner rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Virginia Tech's offense, meanwhile, was punchless for most of the game. The Hokies went almost 24 minutes before getting their first first down of the game. Hokies quarterback Michael Brewer passed for 265 yards and a touchdown. Tech rushed for 26 total yards on 22 carries. Freshman Joey Slye kicked three field goals to account for all of the Hokies' points before Brewer connected with freshman wide receiver Cam Phillips on a 14-yard touchdown completion with 4:52 left in the fourth quarter. The Panthers are back in the ACC's Coastal Division picture after suffering a loss to division opponent Virginia 10 days ago.

Virginia Tech's last win at Pittsburgh came on Oct. 30, 1999. The Hokies (4-3), 0-4 all time at Heinz Field, have started with a 1-2 record in ACC play in two of the last three seasons. They opened with the same mark in 2012 en route to a 4-5 conference record. Tech cut Pitt's lead to 14-9 on Slye's 21-yard field goal with 11:32 remaining in the third quarter. The Hokies had a chance to do further damage in the fourth quarter, but Brewer airmailed a pass attempt to Willie Burn on fourth-and-2 from the Panthers' 38-yard line. Pitt scored a short time later. Voytik broke off a 49-yard run and Conner scored his second touchdown on a 13-yard run to make it 21-9 with 13:07 left in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh scored first on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Voytik to Boyd midway through the first quarter. - The Sports Xchange

10/16/14 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200
Chad Voytik ran for a career-high 118 yards and threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd to help Pittsburgh end a three-game losing streak with a 21-16 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night. James Conner ran for 85 yards and two scores for the Panthers (4-3, 2-1 ACC), who took control early and held off a late rally by the Hokies. Virginia Tech (4-3, 1-2) trailed by 12 in the fourth quarter but had the ball and a chance to take the lead in the final minutes. Michael Brewer's fourth-down pass to Cam Phillips sailed high and the Panthers ran out the clock. Brewer shook off a slow start to finish with 265 yards passing and a 14-yard score to Phillips, but the Hokies remained winless in four visits to Heinz Field.

Pitt came in reeling, having seen its promising 3-0 start evaporate into puzzling losses to Iowa, Akron and Virginia. Their chance to be any sort of factor in the wide-open Coastal Division on the line, the Panthers responded with a dominant - if not exactly crisp - performance. Relying heavily on its two sophomore stars and the nation's fourth-ranked defense, Pitt took a 14-6 halftime lead. Voytik found Boyd down the seam on the Panthers' second possession and the Boyd did the rest, catching it at the Virginia Tech 30 and sidestepping two defenders on his way to a 53-yard touchdown, Pitt's longest pass play of the season. - AP Sports

10/16/14 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240
Scouting the Pitt running game: Pitt's running game has been slowed in recent outings with the Panthers rushing for only 129 yards against Akron and 116 against Virginia in their last two outings. Virginia Tech's defense has held opponents to just under 109 yards a game rushing. PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB James Conner leads the ACC and is fifth nationally in total rushing yards with 874. He has nine rushing touchdowns, which tops the ACC and is seventh nationally. - The Sports Xchange

10/16/14 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200
Scouting the Pitt passing game: The Panthers simply haven't gotten enough out of their passing game to take the pressure off their running game despite having one of the nation's top receivers in Tyler Boyd. QB Chad Voytik is averaging only 158 yards a game passing. PLAYERS TO WATCH: WR Tyler Boyd is a big-play threat in the receiving game as well as special teams. He leads Pittsburgh in receiving with 30 catches for 428 yards and averages 11.8 on punt returns with a long of 45 yards. - The Sports Xchange

10/16/14 - (SS) - Ray Vinopal, rSr, 5-10, 197
Scouting the Pitt pass defense: Opponents are passing for just over 152 yards a game against Pittsburgh, but Pitt's relatively young secondary has been vulnerable at times. The Panthers have five interceptions and 12 sacks. PLAYERS TO WATCH: FS Ray Vinopal is one of four senior starters on the defense. He is tied with CB Terrish Webb for the team lead in interceptions with two and also has 28 tackles. - The Sports Xchange

10/16/14 - (DT) - Darryl Render, Sr, 6-2, 300
Scouting the Pitt run defense: The Panthers have held their opponents to a respectable 127 yards a game rushing, but gave up 225 yards to Virginia in their last outing. Virginia Tech is averaging 174 yards a game rushing. PLAYERS TO WATCH: DT Darryl Render leads all Pitt down linemen in tackles with 28 stops. He has two sacks. - The Sports Xchange

10/16/14 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240
RB James Conner will see time at defensive end against Virginia Tech, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The plan before the season began was for him to be used in pass-rush situations, but so far he has yet to appear on defense. - The Sports Xchange

10/16/14 - (K) - Chris Blewitt, Jr, 5-09, 190
Scouting the Pitt special teams: PK Chris Blewitt has hit on all nine of his field goal attempts this season after going 14-of-18 last year. P Ryan Winslow is averaging less than 40 yards an attempt. WR/PR Tyler Boyd leads the nation with his punt return average of 11.8 yards per attempt. - The Sports Xchange

10/12/14 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309
SEP 8 ACC OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: T.J. Clemmings, Pitt, Sr.-r, OT, 6-6, 315, Teaneck, N.J.,...Clemmings helped spearhead Pitt’s potent rushing attack at Boston College with his blocking up front. The Panthers rolled up 303 rushing yards on 51 carries (5.9 avg.) and did not give up a sack Clemmings has helped Pitt compile 712 rushing yards in its first two contests (356 avg.), the Panthers’ most in consecutive games since 1988. - ACC football

Previous 25 Pittsburgh Notes Next 25 Pittsburgh Notes

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