The Pitt Panthers began training camp on Tuesday and it didn’t take very long for the first major storyline to emerge.
Pitt head coach Paul Chryst surprisingly announced on Wednesday that linebacker Todd Thomas has left the Panthers.
Chryst was apparently sending a message Thomas’ way on Tuesday when he made it known that redshirt freshman and Woodland Hills product Mike Caprara had begun camp ahead of Thomas, a redshirt junior, on the depth chart.
If the move was to motivate Thomas, it backfired in a big way.
Caprara, like Thomas was highly recruited, so it makes some sense to give him a long look, but Thomas was coming off a pretty strong sophomore season, even though he missed some time once again due to injury.
“I had a chance to have some conversations with him the last couple days, and he told me last night and this morning that he’s going to leave the team,” Chryst said. “I obviously like Todd, and we want what’s best for every one of these kids that’s in the program. I’m not going to talk any more about that. We’re going to go on coaching and working with the guys here.”
Thomas has disputed the fact that he is leaving the team on his Twitter account, but all signs are pointing to him no longer being around.
His pending departure hurts a lot as Pitt loses a playmaker at a position they are very thin at.
He started seven games last season for Pitt, finishing with 59 tackles, 1.5 sacks, an interception and a blocked punt. He was expected to be a major contributor on a defense that finished 17th in the country in yards allowed last year.
Chryst’s decision to “motivate” Thomas looked like it paid off in a big way as he had a very good first day of practice on Tuesday, but apparently the junior has no desire to want to compete for a job and will elect to transfer.
Thomas leaving the Pitt program brings the growing total to 20 since Chryst took over last season.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette