Throughout the NFL draft process for former quarterback Tom Savage, the Pitt Panther’s offensive line caught a lot of negative attention from scouts, as they allowed 43 sacks in the 2013 season.
Entering the 2014 season, the team has 3 players slated to start at their former positions, but overall, the line is a battle of 6 players for 5 spots. The 6 men in the hunt include T.J. Clemmings, Matt Rotheram, Artie Rowell, Jaryd Jones Smith, Adam Bisnowaty, and Dorian Johnson.
With Clemmings, Rotheram, and Rowell being sure fire starters, the final 3 players will fight for the 2 remaining spots on the left side of the line. Here’s a preview of each position:
T.J. Clemmings 6’6”, 305 lbs
Clemmings is a redshirt senior returning from starting all 13 games at right tackle last season. In 2012, Clemmings started 6 games at defensive end before switching to right tackle for the 2013 season. Clemmings is set to start at right tackle for the second straight year for the Panthers and looks to improve on his first season at the position.
Matt Rotheram 6’6” 340 lbs
Rotheram started all 12 regular season games at right guard before missing the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Rotherman was an honorable mention All-ACC selection in the 2013 season. Rotheram started 2 games in 2012 before suffereing an ankle-fracture against UConn. Rotheram looks to continue his success in 2014 as the starting right guard once again
Artie Rowell 6’2” 305 lbs
Rowell started all 13 games last season for the Panthers after winning the position battle in the 2013 offseason. After making NFL.com and CollegeFootballNews.com’s All-Bowl Teams, Rowell is currently on the Rimington Trophy Watch list entering the 2014 season. With two more years of eligibility remaining, Rowell looks to improve upon his success in his first year starting in which he went up against defensive tackles Timmy Jerningan, and Louis Nix III during the regular season and All-American Aaron Donald each day in practice.
Left Guard/Left Tackle:
Jaryd Jones-Smith 6’7” 295 lbs
Jones-Smith came to the Panthers in the 2013 season and redshirted. While he has not seen any action on the playing field yet, Jones is 1 of 3 candidates for the 2 remaining offensive line vacancies.
Adam Bisnowaty 6’6” 300 lbs
Bisnowaty started in 8 of the 9 games he played in last season at Left Tackle before missing the season’s last 4 games due to a back injury. With the higher level of competition for the spots now, he will have to earn one of the two spots, and it would not be a surprise to see him moved inside to guard, despite his left tackle size.
Dorian Johnson 6’5” 290 lbs
Johnson was a top prospect when entering Pitt, as the #2 rated offensive tackle in the class and number 29 on ESPN’s Top 150. Johnson became the first true freshman to start for Pitt since 2006, starting in 3 games, and playing in 12. Johnson started 2 games at left tackle and 1 at right guard.
Overall, the Pitt Panthers offensive line should be improved from last year, with more cohesiveness among its starters and the players looking to start. The line is also young and keeping the majority of them together for the upcoming years will only help to improve them, along with the offense as a whole.