Pitt Football Has Released Their First Depth Chart of the 2021-22 Season

(photo obtained from pittpanthers.com)

Pat Narduzzi and the Pittsburgh Panthers released their first depth chart of the 2021-22 football schedule.  Most of the spots were expected, however several designations did stand out.

Running Back

The first eye opener was that AJ Davis Jr is listed as an equal third starter with co-running backs Vincent Davis and Israel Abanikanda.  Most fans and experts alike had expected the sophomore, Abanikanda, to either take the job or share it with junior Vincent Davis.

Vincent was the lead rusher last season, but Abanikanda was known to be waiting in the wings.  However, Narduzzi has listed all three running backs as equal starters to begin the season.  This is not to say that AJ Davis cannot be productive with his carries.  He did average 4.4 yards in 2020 on 61 attempts.  Nevertheless, Abanikanda has been talked about as the greater talent of the three and taking carries away from him may not be in the Panthers best interest.

Offensive Line

The second item on the offensive side that caught my eye is not a surprise, but a disappointment.  I was rooting for Matt Goncalves to take one of the offensive tackle spots.  The O-line was so lousy last season, I thought some additional new blood would be good for this unit.  From what I read, Goncalves is the better choice.  Narduzzi disagrees as Goncalves will start the season backing up senior Carter Warren at Left Tackle.


I'd describe the kicking situation at Pitt as bad.  Currently, both Ben Sauls and Sam Scarton are listed as the potential starter.  This still up in the air, but in a bad way.  It is still a battle because neither guy has performed well enough to pull ahead of the other.  This is shaping up to be a huge weakness in the Panthers special teams and ability to score points.

Free Safety

On the defensive side, the Panthers have themselves a good old-fashioned positive position battle.  Defensive Coordinator Randy Bates had made it as it was a lock that Erick Hallett would be replacing Damar Hamlin at free safety.  However, Rashad Battle is listed as the co-starter at the moment, leaving that position still up for grabs.  Battle played as a backup cornerback in all 11 games last season and has shown enough to stay in the hunt at this point.


Furthermore, on the defensive side, we find SirVocea Dennis listed as both a middle and outside linebacker.  While Dennis was expected to start, he was thought to be more of an outside than inside linebacker.  However, Dennis is currently listed as co-starter with Wendell Davis in the middle and backing up senior Phil Campbell on the outside.


Road Ahead

Fortunately, Pitt has a tune-up game against the University of Massachusetts to figure some of this out. They then go to battle against the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  Unfortunately, Umass is such a lousy team, Narduzzi and the Pitt coaching staff may not learn much from the game.  If the Tennessee and Western Michigan games were swapped, it would set up much nicer for Pitt.  However, the schedule is set and they need to figure it out sooner than later.