Graham era officially begins with spring season

By Alex Oltmanns

The Todd Graham era officially began yesterday as the Pitt football team opened up its spring… The Todd Graham era officially began yesterday as the Pitt football team opened up its spring season schedule at its UPMC practice facility in the South Side.

It was the team’s first experience with Graham’s up-tempo system that relies on the players to compete at a fast pace in practice.

“It was a good first day, with a lot of learning and a lot of teaching,” co-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell said after practice. “We’re doing it extremely fast paced. It was an exciting first day.”

The team practiced without pads Tuesday. The workout is the first of three spring practices without pads — the team will likely suit up for the first time on Saturday.

Even after just the first day, several players caught Graham’s eye with their impressive play on the field.

“Hubie Graham really stood out to me as a guy who can really run at the three back position [tight end/full back],” Graham said. “Mike Shanahan was another guy that really stuck out to me, and Devin Street at receiver.”

The first practice featured a few position changes, most notably switching former defensive ends Brandon Lindsey and Bryan Murphy to outside linebacker positions.

Lindsey, who finished 10th in the country with 10 sacks last season, will only participate this spring on a limited basis to recover from an injury.

Other players, including linebackers Dan Mason, Greg Williams and Manny Williams and defensive backs Antwuan Reed and Todd Thomas, will also practice in a limited capacity this spring because of injuries.

Graham was also pleased by the performance of his quarterbacks, including incumbent starter Tino Sunseri, as well as Mark Myers, Anthony Gonzalez and Kolby Gray.

“The quarterback position really impressed me today — how they managed it and how we threw the football,” Graham said after practice.

Sunseri said the quarterbacks started out well with the new system.

“We were rolling a little bit today, not as fast as we want to be, but we’re in the right direction we believe,” Sunseri said after practice.

Gray, who was recruited to Pitt as a quarterback, moved to safety shortly after coming to the school, but is now back at his original position.

“I haven’t thrown in a year and a half and I’m still kind of getting into the groove of quarterback, and I was really excited out there today. It was like old times in high school,” Gray said after practice.

Graham also said that on Monday, tight end Mike Cruz was suspended for a violation of team rules and then left the team.

The spring schedule consists of three practices a week and the annual intrasquad Spring Game, which will be at Heinz Field April 16 at 2 p.m.