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Former Pitt players in the Super Bowl on both sides

There will be two former Pitt players in the Super Bowl, one on each side. Clint Session a starter at linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, and Darnell Dinkins, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints. Both will be one the biggest stage in sports tomorrow night.

Let’s talk about Clint Session first. A 2006 graduate of Pitt he was a somewhat undersized player. At 6-0 and 235 he was drafted by the Colts in 2007. He did not start his rookie year but in his 2nd season he was a starter. He recorded 99 tackles in that season. This year he had 101 tackles and is looking for more in the Super Bowl.

Former Pitt LB is now a Super Bowl starter

Now Darnell Dinkins. He was a 1998 graduate of Pitt he started 11 games in his senior season. He came to Pitt looking to play QB, but was moved to the Saftey position. He was in Semi-Pro football for a while playing for the Pittsburgh Colts until 2001. He was then picked up by the Giants and moved to their farm team in Europe. He came back to play on the Ravens and then the Browns for three seasons. Now a tight end for the Saints he was signed to a one-year deal for the 2009 season. He is not a starter but may see some special teams time.

These two players will by trying to get their hands on that Vince Lombardi Trophy and wear a nice ring for life. I wish them both success tomorrow night.

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2010 non-conference schedule

The 2010 non-conference is much better than 2009. With games against Utah, Miami, and Notre Dame, this years non-conference schedule really packs a punch. It will feature two Thursday night primetime games and a road season opener with Utah on a Thursday. The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, September 2nd- @ Utah

Saturday, September 11th- Vs. New Hampshire

Thursday, September 23rd- Vs. Miami

Saturday, October 2nd- Vs. Florida International

Saturday, October 9th- @ Notre Dame

This will be the most exciting build-up to a season in years. Pitt’s game with Utah will be on CBS sports and will be one of, if not, the first game(s) of the year. Granted Pitt plays New Hampshire and FIU, but every major I-A school has these games to get a win. I’m very excited about the showdown with Miami. It is sh

The recruits are in

A month after finishing in the top 15 and a 10-3 season the Pitt Panthers football recruits are in. With 24 new faces on campus it was a good recruiting class. Defensive tackle T.J Clemmings was the #1 prosect form NJ according to Scouts.com. Eight players were on the 2009 Pennsylvania All-State team. This is a good, speedy and athletic class. With 11 of the recruits from PA Wannstedt satyed close to home, with many from Ohio as well. This is a promising young group of players.

By Position:

  • Offensive Linemen — 4 (Arthur Doakes, Shane Johnson, Matt Rotheram, Brandon Sacco)
    Defensive Linemen — 4 (T.J. Clemmings, Aaron Donald, Khaynin Mosley-Smith, Bryan Murphy)
    Wide Receivers — 4* (Drew Carswell, Todd Thomas, Kevin Weatherspoon, Salath Williams)
    Defensive Backs — 6* (Derrick Burns, Brandon Ifill, Saheed Imoru, Jeff Knox, Todd Thomas, K’Waun Williams)
    Running Backs — 2 (Andre Givens, T.J. Peeler)
    Quarterbacks — 2 (Anthony Gonzalez, Mark Myers)
    Tight Ends — 2 (Brendan Carozzoni, Dan Schneider)
    Linebackers — 1 (Eric Williams)

*All player info from pittsburghpanthers.com

Top ten Pitt sports moments: 2000s #5-#1

Now it’s time for the top five moments of the past decade. Let’s review 10-6 briefly.

10. Pitt to the BCS

9. Pitt basketball gets it going

8. Larry, Larry, LARRY!

7. Pitt beats Duke in the Garden

6. Final win over Penn State

And now the top 5……

5. Back to Back

If one good thing came out of the 5-7 season in 2007, it was the discovery of Lesean McCoy. He was fantastic as a freshman racking up big numbers with big runs and beautiful cuts. In the 2008 season he lead Pitt to a 9-3 record and a Sun Bowl bid. He was one of the best in Pitt history and Tony Dorsett even agreed. Tony was sure he would stay for his junior season, but maybe the 3-0 loss in the Sun Bowl was enough to declare for the 2009 NFL Draft. Like Larry Fitzgerald before him, McCoy was 2 and through. After his departure a new back came into the picture. Young Dion Lewis, who was turned down to play by Rutgers, was a good looking player in the spring. Nobody knew what to expect for 2009, but Dion showed us what he was all about. He was a bolt of lightning and had a surplus of moves. He ran for 1,799 yards in his freshman season, the most of any Pitt freshman ever. The best part, he’s not done yet. These two backs were great moments in this past decade because they shaped the way for future Pitt stars. Speaking through their actions they said: “If you wanna run the ball and be a star, come to Pitt”. 

4. David Kills Goliath For Big East Championship

When Pitt stumbled into the 2008 Big East Tournament with a record of 22-9, they were not favored to win. With three straight wins they surged into they championship game to face the regular season champs and 9th ranked Georgetown. They were loaded with Roy Hibbert and Patrick Ewing Jr. down low. Pitt had freshman Dejuan Blair and a sneeky outside player, Ronald Ramon. They were up three at the half and never looked back cruising to a 74-65 victory and taking down the Big East Bully in the process. Ronald Ramon hit two key 3’s to put Pitt in a comfortable position to take home the title. This game was one of those games where all the stars seemed to align for the Panthers. They won the game and it was Jamie Dixon’s first Big East title. This would close the somewhat muddled season and end it on a thrilling note.

3. Comeback In The Golden Dome

Whenever you needed a kicker Conor Lee was there. He went 4-4 in OT and pulled off an unlikely comeback against Notre Dame in 2008. Conor won the kicking duel in the 4th overtime to move the Panthers past the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Pitt was down 17-3 at the half, and QB Pat Bostick, in for the injured Bill Stull was playing very poorly, throwing for 3 interceptions and only 1 touchdown. This touchdown was the one that sent the game into OT. On 4th and goal, Pitt ran the same fade route to freshman Jonathan Baldwin for the 4th time. It was a great catch and OT was in place. Lesean McCoy was amazing in the game, running for 169 yards and 1 touchdown. Pitt rallied around him and they came back from a 14 point deficite to win the game. In overtime it was a kicking duel between Pitt’s Conor Lee and Notre Dame’s Brandon Walker. In the third overtime Brandon hit a 48 yarder to send it into a fourth. This was his demise however and Conor Lee hit the walk-off kick to win the game after Walker’s miss. This game was huge as it bounced Pitt back from their loss to Rutgers. It was a great game altogether, and beating Notre Dame is always a big deal. Not to mention the absence of Bill Stull. This was a fantastic moment in this past decade.

2. Pitt Is Number 1

Number one. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? This was the case for the 2008-2009 Pittsburgh men’s basketball team. After beating #8 Georgetown in early January, Pitt was voted as the number 1 team in the country with a 14-0 record. It was short lived though and Pitt would only win 2 games as the number one team and fall to Lousiville two weeks later by six. Even with the loss Pitt’s number 1 ranking was the best moment in their teams’ history. It was a wonderful two weeks in the Burgh with Pitt being the best team in the country. The season was a success and Pitt finished with a 28-3 record and a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They made it to the Elite 8 and then lost to Villanova by 2 in a thriller. The players that got them to number one were the real heroes of the year. Levance Fields, Sam Young, and Dejuan Blair, just to name a few, were superb all season and drove their team to a 16-0 start. Being number 1 is something seldom done and Pitt did it not so long ago.

1. Miracle In Morgantown

This game sums it all up. The number one moment of the 2000s hands down. Pitt at 4-7 had beaten the 10-1 and BCS Title bound West Virgina Mountaineers in Morgantown. The Mountaineers came into the game ranked #2 and were ready to walk all over their rival Pittsburgh. They were favored by 28 points! Pitt came into the game at 4-7 and had no hope of a bowl game, they were playing for pride. The game was a defensive struggle with the score at the half being 7-3 in favor of WVU. Pitt hung around though and went ahead with a TD run by QB Pat Bostick early in the third. After that Pitt’s D came with a fury and sacked Pat White to put him out of the game. Conor Lee added a FG in the 4th to make the score 13-7. WVU had a final drive which resulted in an incomplete pass out of the back of the endzone. As soon as the ball hit the ground I knew that history was just made. Pitt ran the clock out and didn’t even bother to punt as Dan Brytus ran the ball out of the endzone for a safety. Final 13-9, Pitt had done it, they shocked the world. WVU would not be going to the BCS Title and Pitt would start a recruiting surge that would boost them in 2009. Wannstedt still calls it their “turnaround” win. It was that and more and is the number one moment in this past decade of Pitt sports.

Pitt shocks the country in their 13-9 upset of WVU

These moments were awesome and I’m sure there were some that I missed, but these were the ones that stuck out to me. Hope you enjoyed them and most of all, Go Pitt!

Top ten Pitt sports moments: 2000s #10-#6

Their have been some crazy moments in the Panthers recent history, but I think a top ten list is in order. Let’s break it down and show some of the best moments in basketball and football in the past decade.

10. Pitt to the BCS

Sure it was a 35-7 beatdown by Urban Meyer’s Utah Utes in the Fiesta Bowl, but it was Pitt’s only BCS appearence of the decade. Pitt struggled to an 8-4 record in that 2004 season, with a tough OT loss in Syracuse and sneaking by with a 41-38 win against I-AA Furman. It was Walt Harris’s final year with the Panthers and he exited on a sad chord. Overall, the year was a success. They split a 4-way championship for the Big East title, but received the Big East BCS bid by virtue of a win against South Florida in the final week of the season. Walt Harris already accepted the Stanford job almost a month before the BCS game, but stuck around to coach the blowout. Still it deserves the ranking by just being Pitt’s only BCS visit ever.

QB Tyler Palko threw for 251 yards and 1 TD in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl

9. Basketball Gets It Going

When Ben Howland arrived in Pittsburgh for the 1999-2000 season, you could almost feel the program starting to come around. In only his second season Pitt received a bid to play in the NIT. The following season(2001-2002), Pitt went 25-4 and made it to the Sweet Sixteen. He took Pitt to three straight Big East title games and won Pitt’s first ever Big East title at the conclusion of the 2002-2003 season. His record during his 4 years at Pitt was 89-40(.690) and moved the Panthers into the nations elite. After his departure in 2003 to UCLA, Jamie Dixon was made head coach. Since then Dixon has compiled a 178-49 record and six straight NCAA tournament births with one Big East tournament title in 2008. Pitt has had some great players like, Sam Young, Antonio Graves, Ronald Ramon, and Dejuan Blair. Ben Howland started the winning trend that has carried into the 2010.

8. Larry, Larry, LARRY!

Man, this guy got ripped off. He should have won the 2003 Heisman, but lost to Oklahoma’s Jason White in a close race. His catches were sensational, he could very well be the best wide receiver to ever play college football. He was a freshman freak, a sophomore standout and then was a pro; and just like that, Larry Fitzgerald was gone. He had a touchdown in 18 straight games, a NCAA record. He had 14 games with 100+ yards and only played in 26. In his 2 seasons with the Panthers he caught 161 passes for 2,677 yards and caught 34 touchdowns, a Pitt record. Just his presence is worthy of the ranking. Larry Fitzgerald helped put Pitt one the map in both his seasons. He shaped the team and showed the whole country who he was with insane catches that would be played in highlight reals again and again. He was the third pick in the first round of the 2004 draft. He was picked by the Arizona Cardinals and helped take them to the Super Bowl this past season. Larry was the best, and deserves the ranking.

Larry Fitzgerald was a touchdown machine in '02 and in '03

7. Pitt Beats Duke In The Garden

December 20th, 2007 Pitt is playing Duke in the Aeropostale Classic. Senior Mike Cook goes down in the first half with a nasty knee injury. The Panthers are down by 12 at the half, but rallied to take it into OT in the thriller. Led by then freshman center Dejuan Blair and Levance Fields, the Panthers were able to make it a game. Things really got interesting when Duke went ahead with under 10 seconds to play. That would not stop Fields however. He went down the court, pulled up at the top of the key, and drilled a 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left over the hands of 6-6 David McClure. Duke brought it down the court and missed two desperation shots and Pitt won. It was a definitive moment in Pitt sports history. They had knocked off the Duke Blue Devils and put themselves up with college basketball’s elite. This crazy, stunning, win in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden was an important moment in Pitt sports history.

6. Final Win Over Penn State

Well, it wasn’t a shootout, but Pitt fans were happy with a 12-0 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in Three Rivers Stadium. The 2000 game would mark the last in the great rivalry, and it feels great to get the last laugh. Led by QB’s John Turman and freshman Rod Rutherford the Panthers shutout their in-state rivals 12-0 with 2 Nick Lotz field goals and a John Turman TD pass. Pitt’s strong D shut out the Nittany Lions and showed them who was boss in the series. No further meetings were scheduled, but it was a great way to go out. Pitt’s talented WR Antonio Bryant was key along with WR LaTiff Grimm. This game was a great way to start the decade.

Shady Vs. Dion by the numbers

This may be the best stretch of Backs in Pitt history. In 2007 little-known Freshman LeSean McCoy burst into the National scene with outstanding speed and quickness. His Sophomore season was even better and it looked like his Junior season would be the best yet. That never happened however, and Shady went pro and starting running for the Philadelphia Eagles instead.

Former Pitt tailback LeSean McCoy ran wild in '07 and '08

When Shady left it was a sad day in Pittsburgh. Everyone thought that they would be in trouble with no dominate back. This problem was solved,however. When young Dion Lewis showed up on campus nobody even knew his name. Now nobody can forget it. The young man nick-named: “Shady Who”, has been, in statistics, Pitt’s best Freshman back ever. Let’s look at both backs numbers in their freshman years. Now remember Shady had an extra season so I’ll disregard his Sophomore year. These are rushing stats only.

Freshman halfback Dion Lewis was Pitt's best asset in '09

First up Shady in 2007:

  • 276 Rushing Attempts
  • 1,328 Rushing Yards
  • 4.8 Yards Per Rush
  • 14 Rushing Touchdowns
  • 0 Fumbles

Now it’s Dion’s turn:

  • 325 Rushing Attempts
  • 1,799 Rushing Yards
  • 5.5 Yards Per Rush
  • 17 Rushing Touchdowns
  • 0 Fumbles

Now say what you will, but it’s obvious that Dion had the better Freshman year. Shady had a great Sophomore year also; let’s hope that Dion does too. Another thing to consider is that Pitt went 5-7 in 2007 and went 10-3 in 2009 with a Bowl win. So I think that Dion did better in the stats department, but Shady really carried the team more. His lack of yardage may reflect upon the fact that he had a lesser team around him. In 2007 Pitt did not have good Quarterback play. Pitt had Stull playing great this year and in 2007 Pat Bostick did not play well at all. Both backs will go down as Pittsburgh greats. 

One thing is certain, Wannstedt can recruit some amazing backs.

Three Pitt players selected for post-season games

Who would have thought Dorin Dickerson would be in the senior bowl at this time last season. That’s what happens when in your senior season as a tight end you have 49 receptions for 529 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is just one of the three Pitt seniors that will represent Pitt in this years post-season games. Cornerback Aaron Berry and tight end Nate Byham will play in the East-West shrine game in Orlando, FL.

Senior tight end Dorin Dickerson picked a good year to step up

Dorin will play a week later in Mobile, AL to show the NFL if he’s ready to be a pro tight end or flanker. Very proud of all three of these guys, they earned it.

Times and Dates of games:

  • Senior Bowl in Orlando Florida
  • January 30th
  • 4:00
  • NFL Network

 

  • East-West in Mobile Alabama
  • January 23rd
  • 3:00
  • ESPN2