08/31/15 - (RB) - James Conner, Jr, 6-2, 240 The quote is saved on James Conner's phone, a permanent reminder of the stakes. He sees it whenever he logs in, meaning the running back's eyes glaze over it dozens of times a day. Its presence is comforting in a way, a mental security blanket just in case the Pittsburgh star begins to get ahead of himself. It reads "Don't give up what you want most for what you want now." It replaced Ray Lewis as his screensaver a while ago, when the big kid with the ever-churning legs figured out his destiny lay in trying to run opponents over, not run them down. The NFL became a real, living, breathing thing to Conner in 2014 when he mashed his way to 1,765 yards rushing, 26 total touchdowns and the ACC Player of the Year award. He had always been good. Growing up in Erie, Pa. with four older brothers, Conner always believed he was tough. He had to be if he wanted to become something more than the family mascot. What took time for him to believe is that he could be special.
At some point last fall, maybe it was when he treated three Duke players with the same lack of respect a 3-year-old shows for his toys while throwing them aside for his third and final score in an overtime loss on Nov. 1, the switch flipped. He was no longer a prodigy but a full-blown player. "I looked around and I'm putting up numbers with other great backs," Conner said. "It sort of became like, 'Now you need to handle yourself more professionally, take things more seriously and you've got a real opportunity.'" Hence the daily reminder just a swipe of his finger away. "A lot of people do things for the moment instead of thinking long term," Conner said. "I've been trying to find that balance." - AP Sports
08/11/15 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200 Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd says a DUI that's costing him an appearance in the season opener was a "real dumb mistake." The two-time 1,000-yard receiver with potential of being picked in the top 10 in the NFL draft says Monday as training camp opened that he doesn't want to find himself in the same situation again. "We're always going to make mistakes," Boyd said. "One thing I strive for and the people around me always keep in my head, you never make the same mistake twice." Boyd is serving a 12 month probation. He was charged with DUI on June 16. Boyd is the first receiver in ACC history to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons as a freshman and sophomore. He was named to the All-ACC preseason first team last month.
Defensive lineman Rori Blair will also miss the Sept. 5 opener against Youngstown State after being charged with DUI and driving at unsafe speeds. He led the Panthers with 5 1/2 sacks last season. Authorities say he was driving 117 mph late at night in March. Head coach Pat Narduzzi did not announce the suspensions until last week, but made clear the team knew about the discipline earlier in the summer. Narduzzi said his philosophy in these circumstances is to immediately discipline players but keep the focus on the games. "You only get 12 opportunities and every one is precious," Narduzzi said. "To miss a game, that's all we need to talk about. We're on to the season." - AP Sports
08/06/15 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200 Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi has announced wide receiver Tyler Boyd and defensive end Rori Blair are suspended for the Sept. 5 opener against Youngstown State. Boyd, a 1,000-yard receiver in each of his first two seasons at Pitt, was charged with DUI in June. The All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection was pulled over in June south of Pittsburgh. Boyd told police he had two shots of alcohol. Blair, who led the Panthers with 5.5 sacks in 2014, was charged with driving under the influence of a drug after he was clocked at 117 mph in March. Narduzzi said the players will be subject to additional internal discipline. The first-year coach said the situations are "very disappointing" and that both players expressed remorse. - AP Sports
07/30/15 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200 Pitt WR Boyd sentenced to probation in DUI case...Pittsburgh star wide receiver Tyler Boyd was sentenced to 12 months of probation on Friday as punishment for driving under the influence. Boyd also had his driver's license revoked for 90 days, and Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Robert Gallo ordered the 20-year-old to complete a safe-driving program. Boyd was pulled over June 12 in a Pittsburgh suburb and told police he had two shots of alcohol. He was arrested after taking a Breathalyzer test and later released into the custody of a family member. In addition to the DUI charge, Boyd was accused of underage drinking, careless driving and driving on the wrong side of the road. New Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi had suspended Boyd from team activities for a month, and the receiver rejoined the Panthers last week. Boyd was a first-team All-ACC pick as a sophomore last season after catching 78 passes for 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns. Boyd, considered a possible first-round NFL draft pick in 2016, has 163 receptions for 2,435 yards and 15 scores in two years at Pitt. - The Sports Xchange
07/30/15 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200 Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd entered a first-time offenders program Friday following his arrest for driving under the influence last month. Allegheny County Common Pleas judge Robert Gallo also ordered Boyd's driver's license suspended for 90 days and required Boyd to complete a safe driving program. Boyd can ask Gallo to expunge the DUI charge against him if Boyd successfully completes the programs and pays court costs. Boyd, an All-ACC first-team selection in 2014, was pulled over in the early hours of June 12 in Jefferson Hills, about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh. Boyd told police he had two shots of alcohol. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi suspended Boyd from team activities for a month. Boyd, who is from Clairton, rejoined the Panthers last week. - AP Sports
07/20/15 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200 Pittsburgh star wide receiver Tyler Boyd has waived his right to a preliminary hearing on drunken driving charges and several related citations and hopes to enter a probation program for first-time offenders, his defense attorney said Wednesday. If Boyd is accepted into and eventually completes the probation program, which doesn't require a guilty plea, he can then ask the court to expunge the record of his June 12 arrest in Jefferson Hills, defense attorney Daniel Konieczka told The Associated Press. Police in the suburb just south of Pittsburgh stopped Boyd about 2:30 a.m. after he allegedly tried to pass another car in an intersection, which is illegal in Pennsylvania.
Because Boyd is 20 and not yet old enough to drink legally in Pennsylvania, he can be charged with drunken driving even if he had less than the .08 percent blood-alcohol limit that's considered legally drunk for drivers 21 and older. Boyd told police he had "two shots" during the evening and took breath and blood tests before he was released to a family member that night, police said. Court records show he has also been cited for purchasing alcohol as a minor; operating a vehicle with alcohol in his system while a minor; careless driving; failing to use a turn signal; and approaching an intersection improperly. - AP Sports
06/13/15 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200 Pitt WR Boyd arrested for DUI...Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd, considered a possible first-round NFL draft pick in 2016, was arrested for driving under the influence Friday morning in Jefferson Hills, Pa. Boyd, 20, told police he had two shots after watching the NBA Finals, according to KDKA-TV. He was arrested after taking a Breathalyzer test and later released into the custody of a family member, KDKA reported. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi released a statement Saturday, saying: "Tyler's situation is both serious and disappointing. We have high expectations for the young men in our program, on and off the field. Tyler understands that and knows he must be responsible for his actions. Certainly, he will be held accountable to our internal standards of discipline and behavior." Boyd, who will be a junior next season, caught 78 passes for 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns last season and has 163 receptions for 2,435 yards and 15 scores in two years at Pitt. - The Sports Xchange
05/04/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309 A closer look at the Vikings' 10 picks: Round 4/110 - T.J. Clemmings, OT, 6-5, 309, Pittsburgh...This could be the best value pick on the board for Clemmings. He was rated much higher by many scouts and draft experts, but concerns about a stress fracture in his foot caused him to drop. He projects as a backup right tackle with the potential to be the swing tackle. - The Sports Xchange
05/04/15 - (OT) - T.J. Clemmings, rSr, 6-5, 309 The Vikings also went out on a limb to pick up offensive line help. NFLDraftScout.com projected first-rounder T.J. Clemmings grew to near prototypical offensive tackle size at 6-5, 309 pounds. But he almost didn't grow up to be a football player at all. In fact, he didn't play football until his junior year in high school. "I didn't play because my mom didn't understand the sport," said Clemmings, the Vikings' fourth-round pick from Pittsburgh. "She saw it to be extremely - not extremely - dangerous. That's how she felt and she never really wanted me to play." After all, he was one heck of a basketball player and could have played basketball in college. "I was still playing basketball and having fun with basketball," he said. "She changed her mind my junior year when I asked. My dad said, 'Hey, let him play,' and they allowed me to."
Clemmings could end up being the best value pick on the Vikings' board this year. Several scouts and NFL draft experts had him rated much higher, but he tumbled to the fourth round because of concerns about a foot stress fracture. "There was a concern with my foot," he said. "But I have no concerns with my so-called injury." Clemmings projects as a backup right tackle who could become a swing tackle and possibly become the heir apparent to right tackle Phil Loadholt. - The Sports Xchange
04/22/15 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, Jr, 6-2, 200 Pittsburgh's first-year head coach Pat Narduzzi stressed knowledge as a key tenet to the success of the football program he looks to build. The Panthers concluded their spring practice period with the team's Blue-Gold spring game on Saturday. As the new coaching staff installed its systems on offense, defense and special teams, the players began gaining the knowledge Narduzzi hopes allows them to play well in the fall. After 15 practices, the players also know a little bit more about their new coach. "I think we all know his expectations now and the energy he expects and that he's not kidding when he says he wants to win a championship," quarterback Chad Voytik said. "A lot of guys may say that as a energizer. He means it. He wants to win a championship and he thinks that we can."
The Panthers have some way to go before they can realize their head coach's lofty expectations. "I hope they learned that I'm with them," Narduzzi said. "It's not the players against coaches. We're not just going to sit out on the field and watch them run. We want to run with them." Voytik, wide receiver Tyler Boyd and defending ACC Player of the Year James Conner led the Blue team to a 17-10 victory. Voytik completed 11 of 24 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. Boyd caught six passes for 112 yards and had the game's longest play with a 46-yard catch. Boyd enters his junior season as arguably the ACC's top receiver and describes his new coach as honest after the last month's work. "He's a pretty straight, up-front guy," Boyd said. "He will never mislead you. ... He's going to tell you what he wants out of a player and he's going to let you know what he wants as a coach." - AP Sports
04/22/15 - (QB) - Chad Voytik, rJr, 6-1, 215 Chad Voytik is prepping for his second season as the starting quarterback at Pittsburgh, but in so many ways it seems like his first. The impending junior knows what to expect once the competition begins on September 5 against Youngstown State, but it is the preparation under the offensive staff that joined new head coach Pat Narduzzi where Voytik needs to find his way. "It kind of feels the same with the new offense," Voytik said. "I am kind of back to square one. I kind of felt like a freshman. As far as my knowledge of the defense and overall IQ, it has helped me a lot this spring. I know why we are running a certain concept if we see a certain coverage and I can attack that."
Another concept that is new to Voytik: entering Saturday's Blue-Gold game as the entrenched starter. New coach Pat Narduzzi brought back the traditional spring wrap up - with a twist - after former coach Paul Chryst opted for a series of scrimmages last year. Narduzzi brought in former Pitt stars Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Donald to serve as honorary coaches for the game, with teams selected during a live player draft. Voytik will be surrounded by familiar faces in the huddle, with junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner joining him on Fitzgerald's team. "It is going to be nice to be out there and get a crowd out there and have Fitzgerald and Donald come out," Voytik said. "That will be cool. It puts guys in a game situation. We have had all spring to evaluate our play. This is kind of the grand evaluation. You see what you have learned and how you can execute it." - AP Sports
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