Football: Panthers announce starters with release of two-deep roster

By Jay Huerbin

With less than a week before the 2009 Pitt Panthers take to Heinz Field, the team has released… With less than a week before the 2009 Pitt Panthers take to Heinz Field, the team has released its two-deep roster — listing starters and backups for the season opener.

The biggest announcement comes with the naming of senior Joe Thomas as starting left guard. Thomas battled throughout training camp with redshirt sophomore Chris Jacobson, who will back up Thomas.

The two-deep roster is highlighted by four true freshmen who earned a spot. Dion Lewis is the Panthers’ only starting freshman after earning the top tailback position. Ray Graham, another true freshman, will be Lewis’ backup. The two other freshman on the roster are Dan Mason, who will back up Adam Gunn at middle linebacker and Matt Yoklic, who is listed as the backup punter.

On offense, redshirt senior Bill Stull will again be the starting quarterback, while redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri is listed as his backup. Sophomore Johnathan Baldwin is the starting split end receiver, while Redshirt seniors Cedric McGee and Oderick Turner are starting flanking receivers.

Seniors Aaron Berry and Jovani Chappel will anchor Pitt’s defensive backfield, as sophomores Greg Williams and Max Gruder will start as strong and weak linebackers, respectively. Sophomore Andrew Taglianetti and redshirt junior Elijah Fields are both starters at the free safety position.

The starting punter and placekicker is redshirt junior Dan Hutchins.

Redshirt sophomore Aaron Smith, with redshirt freshman Cameron Saddler as his backup, will handle punt returning. Saddler and sophomore Antwuan Reed will field kickoffs.

The Panthers take on Youngstown State on Saturday at 1 p.m.

For a complete list of the two-deep roster, visit The Pitt News sports blog.