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

05/08/14 - (QB) - Tom Savage, rSr, 6-4, 228
2014 DRAFT SCOUT FINAL TOP 100: 45/5. Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh, 6-4, 228, 4.97, 2...Traveling Tom transferred twice (from Rutgers, Arizona) and sat out two seasons (2011, 2012) in search of optimum situation, then struggled last season on a team that didn't give him a lot of protection. Savage has excellent size and an NFL-caliber arm. It is important to know what date of game is on films because as the 2013 season progressed so did his ability to understand how to accept the check-down instead of the sack. Note this: When Savage was a freshman at Rutgers in 2010, NFLDraftScout.com rated Savage as the No. 5 quarterback in the 2014 draft, right where he is now. Frankly: Big guy with a big arm who shows a grasp of the pro-style game and if he gets the time and tutoring necessary he might surprise those who lost track of him after two years out of the game. In weathering a rough start last season he showed maturity that was missing earlier career. - Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com


05/07/14 - (SS) - Jason Hendricks, rSr, 5-11, 182
2014 NFL Draft: 126 FBS programs, 126 possible UDFAs: PITTSBURGH: SS Jason Hendricks (5-11, 182, 4.83)...After poor numbers at his pro day (4.83 40-yard dash, seven reps), Hendricks will likely go undrafted, but he led Pitt in tackles the past two seasons and boasts eight career interceptions. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com


05/06/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
Dane Brugler's 2014 NFL Draft Final Top-50: 12. Aaron Donald DT, Pittsburgh (6-1, 285, 4.68, SR)...While Clowney received most of the publicity, Donald had the best Combine performance among the defensive linemen with a 4.68 40-yard dash, 32” vertical jump and 35 reps on the bench press. He's a prototypical 3-technique with disruptive ability. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com


05/06/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
Five players who should be on the Minnesota Vikings' draft radar...DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: The Vikings invested big dollars ($31.5 million over five years) in Joseph and a first-round pick a year ago in Sharrif Floyd but neither is a premium pass-rusher like Donald, who is earning comparisons from some to Vikings' Hall of Famer John Randle. Like Randle, Donald is a virtual Energizer Bunny, demonstrating rare hustle for an interior lineman. He's explodes off the snap and uses his natural leverage advantage and surprising power to overwhelm blockers and is effective against both the run and pass. Zimmer had the benefit of a talented rotation in Cincinnati and may see Donald as the type of interior pass rusher to help minimize the great quarterbacks of the division. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com


05/06/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
The Sports Xchange 2014 NFL Draft Best Team Fit: Dallas Cowboys...DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: Donald is the best 3-technique tackle in the draft. He is a perfect fit for the 4-3 defense designed by Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli. He is a quick, explosive player who gets to the quarterback. He could go in the top 10, but if he falls to 12, the Cowboys will consider moving up to take him. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange


05/06/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
The Sports Xchange 2014 NFL Draft Best Team Fit: Chicago Bears...DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: He made more than 100 plays behind the line of scrimmage and is easily the best disrupter in the draft. It's not just as a pass rusher. He comes up with tackles for losses, as well. The Bears can't say with great certainty that they already have a defensive tackle that can disrupt unless they're looking at a 33-year-old rehabbed player like Jeremiah Ratliff. The chief stated goal of Emery when last season ended was to get "younger" on defense. This does it, and it's a pick worth moving up to make. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange


05/06/14 - (QB) - Tom Savage, rSr, 6-4, 228
2014 NFL Draft Quarterbacks: Tom Savage, Pittsburgh, 6-4, 228, 4.97...Traveling Tom transferred twice (from Rutgers, Arizona) and sat out two seasons (2011, 2012) in search of optimum situation, then struggled last season on a team that didn't give him a lot of protection. Savage has excellent size and an NFL-caliber arm. It is important to know what date of game is on films because as the 2013 season progressed so did his ability to understand how to accept the check-down instead of the sack.

Note this: When Savage was a freshman at Rutgers in 2010, NFLDraftScout.com rated Savage as the No. 5 quarterback in the 2014 draft. Frankly: Big guy with a big arm who shows a grasp of the pro-style game and if he gets the time and tutoring necessary he might surprise those who lost track of him after two years out of the game. In weathering a rough start last season he showed maturity that was missing earlier career. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange

05/06/14 - (QB) - Tom Savage, rSr, 6-4, 228
2014 NFL Draft Quarterbacks: Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois, 6-2, 226, 4.97...Garoppolo created a buzz as he broke all of Tony Romo's career school records, as well as all of the Ohio Valley Conference passing records. Won the Walter Payton Award in 2013 after throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns. His career totals include 13,156 yards passing, 118 touchdowns in a pass-happy, shotgun offense that has not helped prepare him for the NFL. Frankly: Garoppolo can find receivers and fire the ball on target faster than you can say his name. Lighting release and frozen rope medium distance sideline passes are reminiscent of Dan Marino's lasers. This despite concerns about his size, short arms and small hands. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange


04/13/14 - (QB) - Chad Voytik, rSo, 6-1, 210
When Brooks Bollinger resigned as quarterbacks coach at Pittsburgh in February, head coach Paul Chryst didn't hire another one. Instead, he added the job duties to his own. Consider it the most efficient way to keep track of the learning curve for starter in waiting Chad Voytik. A year after transfer Tom Savage started each of Pitt's 13 games, Voytik, a sophomore, will take the reins after spending the larger part of his first two years at Pitt watching and learning. Voytik, recruited by former Pitt coach Todd Graham, redshirted his freshman year and served as Savage's backup last year.

This spring, the emphasis between Chryst and Voytik has been on learning while Voytik said the mechanics will be worked on over the summer. When it comes to aspects of the position like reading opposing defenses, Voytik says his comfort level has already increased "a lot" as a result of the way he's being coached. "(Chryst) gives you such a different perspective and really makes you think for yourself," Voytik said. "That's really helped me because I was always the guy saying like 'tell me what I need to do' but now he's teaching us the game so we can kind of learn it ourselves when he's not there to tell us."

Savage completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago. Voytik has completed 6 of 11 passes for 116 yards in his career. Voytik saw his first extended period of play in the second half of Pitt's 30-27 win over Bowling Green at the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl after Savage was unable to play with a rib injury he suffered on the last play of the first half. - AP Sports

04/12/14 - (RB) - Isaac Bennett, Sr, 5-11, 205
Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst says that running back Isaac Bennett will need surgery on his sprained left shoulder. Bennett is expected to compete for the starting running back job with James Conner when camp opens in the fall, but Conner is also out for the rest of the spring with a left knee sprain he sustained the same day Bennett was injured. Bennett ran for 797 yards and seven touchdowns on 171 carries. Conner led the team with 799 yards and eight scores. While Bennett will miss work in the summer, Chryst hopes the senior will be fully available once training camp begins in August. Chryst says the surgery was necessary "so you have to embrace it. He'll do everything he can to rehab." - AP Sports


03/17/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
2014 Pro Days: Pittsburgh DT Donald continues climb...Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was not in a racing mood on March 3. Donald, a 287-pound three-technique and NFLDraftScout.com's 22nd-ranked player overall, allowed his 4.68 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine to stand while going through position drills at Pitt's pro day, held at the Panthers' indoor facility. Bill O'Brien of the Houston Texans made Pitt his first pro day stop as an NFL head coach. Four quarterbacks coaches and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly were also in attendance according to Pitt's Sports Information Department.

Donald's height (6-foot 5/8-inch) is the only legitimate nick on his evaluation. He plays with power, suddenness and violent, jolting hand strength to shed blocks. With the momentum gained at the NFL Scouting Combine and as a dominant, award-winning defender last season, Donald could come off the board in top 15. - The Sports Xchange

03/17/14 - (QB) - Tom Savage, rSr, 6-4, 228
2014 Pro Days: Pittsburgh DT Donald continues climb...Quarterback Tom Savage, who could be a late-round riser, went through a scripted workout of 100 passes. Savage (6-4, 228), has the arm strength to be at least a quality backup. A two-time transfer, Savage said he patiently explains to scouts that his travels should not be a red flag. But his limited experience against FBS defenses do complicate Savage's evaluation. Savage, who also attended Rutgers and Arizona, said it doesn't have to be a negative.

"I've been in three different systems, probably four or five different offensive coordinators. I don't even know anymore I've been to so many schools," Savage said. "You kind of have to pick it up on the run. You have to learn on your own. At Pittsburgh, I had to walk on and earn my spot. I had to pick up the offense and learn it by myself. Being ineligible you can't offer to much to the team. You really have to grind in the film room and pick it up on your own, kind of like the NFL will be. There will be veterans that know the playbook. They're not going to slow down for some rookie." - The Sports Xchange

02/27/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
2014 NFL COMBINE: 10 TAKEAWAYS FROM INDIANAPOLIS: 5. Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald stole Clowney's spotlight, dazzling during combine drills the same way he did throughout the 2013 season. Thought to be undersized at 6-0, 285 at Pittsburgh, played big last season and is getting bigger in the post-season. His explosive power was obvious in games, were be blew up the line of scrimmage and led the nation with average sacks per game (1.6) and tackles for loss (2.4). On Monday, he showed why. He blasted through 40 yards in 4.68, had a 32-inch vertical and benched 225 pounds 35 times. This should validate that this mighty mite of an interior lineman -- think John Randle skill set -- could move up in the first round of the draft. - The Sports Xchange


02/20/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
2014 NFL Draft Scout Pre-Combine Top 64 Prospects: 22. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh, 6-1, 288, 4.93, 1...Donald was the most dominant and decorated defensive college football player in 2013 after totaling 59 tackles, including 28.5 for a loss, 11 sacks, 16 QB hurries, four forced fumbles and a blocked extra point. Per NFLDraftScout.com, he was an unblockable force from his defensive tackle position despite an array of schemes designed to slow him down. He was the the first Pitt defensive player to be a unanimous All-America selection since legendary defensive end Hugh Green in 1980. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange


02/17/14 - (QB) - Tom Savage, rSr, 6-4, 228
In that (Nov. 23 Syracuse) game, Savage took a vicious hit in the ribs but played through the pain. A week later, he threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Miami. Then, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against Bowling Green on Dec. 26, Savage was hit near the same spot and was forced to leave the game with fractured ribs and, as it turned out, a bruised kidney. At halftime, he said he discovered blood in his urine. That forced him to set aside his courage and let backup quarterback Chad Voytik finish the game. “When I saw that, I said, ‘All right. You have to pull back.' “It was better for the program for Chad (a redshirt freshman) to get to play. It gave everyone a confidence boost for next season.” But it didn't help Savage, who was forced to turn down an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game. He also couldn't serve as an alternate for the Senior Bowl.

Instead, he put his workout schedule on hold for two weeks to rest and recuperate. He said he is healed and ready for the combine and a return to Pittsburgh on March 3 for Pitt's pro day. While working out with former NFL quarterback Travis Brown, he has learned that a strong arm — and he has one — isn't enough. “A lot of guys in the NFL can throw the ball 70 yards,” Savage said. “The tough thing is doing it with people in your face.” Working with Brown almost every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., he is trying to improve his footwork. “I want to quicken up my feet, quicken my game up in general,” he said. - Jerry DiPaola, Tribune-Review

01/25/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
2014 Senior Bowl, Helped Themselves: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - It was Donald, not Ford, who earned most of the buzz early in the week, whipping interior offensive linemen with his quickness, tenacity and underrated strength. Like Ford, Donald's size (6-foot-1, 288 pounds) limits his fits in the NFL but his ability to pressure quarterbacks could earn him a first round selection. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com


01/21/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
2014 Senior Bowl Tuesday: Trio of lineman highlight physical North practice...Donald's burst makes him a terror during individual pass-rush drills but at a shade under 6-foot-1 and 288 pounds, he projects best as a pass-rush specialist three-technique defensive tackle in the 4-3 alignment. A team in need of an interior pass rusher certainly could justify selecting him in the first round because Donald could emerge as a 8-10 sack threat in the NFL but he'll almost certainly be doing so as a rotational player -- which not every team in the league is comfortable to dedicating a first round pick towards. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com


01/21/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
2014 Senior Bowl: 10 observations from Monday's North practice...1. DT Aaron Donald was an unstoppable force on Monday. Like his play all season, the Pitt defensive tackle was extremely quick in drills and was relentless from snap to whistle. His burst and anticipation off the snap and active energy to fight through and around blocks make him tough for any blocker to handle. Donald repeatedly victimized Baylor OG Cyril Richardson at practice, winning with leverage, hustle and fluidity that Richardson has likely never seen before on the football field. Donald's skill-set is ideal for one-on-one drills so he should shine, but the NFL team that drafts him will get a really good football player. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com


01/20/14 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
2014 SENIOR BOWL, DEFENSIVE LINE: Top player: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh...Despite lacking ideal size and frame for an interior rusher, Donald is an active, energetic player who uses first step quickness and natural leverage to power into the backfield. He won't be a fit for everyone, but Donald has a relentless motor to fight through the whistle and is a pesky guy to block. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com


12/26/13 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, So, 6-2, 185
James Conner rushed for 229 yards - breaking a Pittsburgh bowl record held by Tony Dorsett - and Chris Blewitt kicked a tiebreaking field goal with 1:17 remaining, lifting the Panthers to a 30-27 win over Bowling Green on Thursday night in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Conner also played a handful of snaps on the defensive line, and fellow freshman Tyler Boyd gave Pitt (7-6) a boost with eight catches for 173 yards. Boyd also scored on a punt return in the first half, although Bowling Green (10-4) tied it at 17 when BooBoo Gates took the second-half kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. Dorsett rushed for 202 yards in Pitt's win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1977. - AP Sports


12/26/13 - (FB) - James Conner, So, 6-2, 230
Freshman tailback James Conner rushed for a career-high 229 yards to power the Pittsburgh Panthers past the Bowling Green Falcons 30-27 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Thursday at Ford Field. Pitt freshman Chris Blewitt kicked a game-winning 39-yard field goal with 1:17 remaining. Conner, who was named the MVP, broke Tony Dorsett's school bowl record of 202 rushing yards against Georgia in the 1977 Sugar Bowl. Conner ran the ball 26 times and scored a touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd had a career-high 173 receiving yards on eight catches and also scored on a 54-yard punt return for Pittsburgh (7-6).

Panthers senior quarterback Tom Savage, who completed eight of 13 passes for 124 yards, missed the second half due to a rib injury. His replacement, redshirt freshman Chad Voytik, scored on a 5-yard run during the fourth quarter. Voytik went 5-for-9 passing for 108 yards. Sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson threw two touchdown passes for the Falcons (10-4). He completed 20 of 32 passes but couldn't extend Bowling Green's five-game winning streak. - The Sports Xchange

12/26/13 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
CBSSPORTS.COM ALL-AMERICANS: FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE AS NFL DRAFT PROSPECTS: DT - Aaron Donald, Sr., Pittsburgh: Generating an eye-popping 26 tackles for loss (including eight sacks) in 2013 make Donald our Defensive Player of the Year, along with winning the Nagurski and Outland Trophies as the nation's dominant defensive lineman. But NFL scouts may not be nearly as excited about his potential as the media, considering Pitt's star defensive tackle's undersized frame. At only 6-foot, 285-pounds, Donald relies more on his burst and quick hands to penetrate rather than power to hold up at the point of attack, making his best fit as a three-technique in the 4-3 alignment. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com


12/26/13 - (DT) - Aaron Donald, Sr, 6-1, 285
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bowling Green is making its 11th appearance in a bowl game, and the Falcons are 4-6, with the last win coming in the 2004 GMAC Bowl, now the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Pitt is playing in its 11th bowl since 2000 and its sixth consecutive since 2008. The Panthers are 12-17 all-time in bowl games. DT Aaron Donald of Pitt is the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year. He is a disruptive defender with 26 1/2 tackles for losses, and 10 sacks this season. He also has 16 quarterback hurries. - The Sports Xchange


12/26/13 - (WR) - Tyler Boyd, So, 6-2, 185
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Freshman WR Tyler Boyd has made an immediate impact for Pitt. He has 1,001 yards receiving, and is first on the team in all-purpose yards with 1,534 yards, averaging 127.8 yards per game. Boyd also has rushed for 108 yards and had 425 yards in kickoff returns. He was a second-team all-conference performer. - The Sports Xchange


12/26/13 - (QB) - Tom Savage, rSr, 6-4, 228
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Tom Savage of Pitt is minus-208 yards rushing as the Panthers have allowed 41 sacks, but he has thrown for 2,834 yards and 21 touchdowns with nine interceptions while completing 61.2 percent of his passes. - The Sports Xchange


Previous 25 Pittsburgh Notes Next 25 Pittsburgh Notes

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