Ever since Rushel Shell left the Pitt football program, the search has been on for who would step into the role as the Panthers’ featured back.
That job was presumed to go to junior running back Isaac Bennett, but things haven’t necessarily played out that way.
However there is a glimmer of good news on that front as Bennett returned to practice without the full-length leg brace on his injured right knee.
The junior has been out of action since August 1o with a right knee injury, but it was nice to see him back on the field even though he was still limited. Bennett, who has missed all but four days of camp so far worked with the other running backs in the position drills, pass blocking and taking handoffs. He did not participate in the 11-on-11 sessions.
How Bennett will progress at this point is anyone’s guess, but you would have to think that he will be involved in the mix at tailback when Pitt opens up the season on Labor Day against Florida State.
Whether Bennett is starting the season opener behind quarterback Tom Savage still remains to be seen, but if he isn’t that honor could go to Erie McDowell freshman James Connor who recently told reporters that he expects to be the starter on opening night. Pitt head coach Paul Chryst didn’t confirm that fact, but one thing is for sure and that’s whether or not he is starting against the Seminoles, for the Panthers to be successful in 2013 they will need a big contribution from Bennett.
Bennett is coming off a sophomore season in which he was stuck behind both Shell and Ray Graham on the depth chart and rushed for 141 and three touchdowns on only 29 carries for an impressive 4.9 yards per carry average. As a freshman Bennett rushed for 237 yards on 58 carries, finding the end zone on two occasions.
Even though his numbers aren’t overly impressive, Bennett is Pitt’s most experienced running back and someone Chryst will likely lean on in 2013.
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