Chris Peak on why recruiting gives you all the answers you need to any questions you have about the success of Pitt football. Interviews with Pitt QB Nate Peterman and Running Back Rachid Ibrahim.


From Pitt PR- Coach Pat Narduzzi Quote Sheet
Opening statement:
“Practice number 11 is done. We’re near the end today. Guys came out in shorts today. It was the first time we went with what we call shells—helmets and shoulder pads. We’ll probably do it again next Tuesday and Thursday because we really thought the guys came out with a great attitude and maturity with what we call upwards of shells. It was a really enthusiastic practice. We got a two minute, we got the last two plays of the game locked in today, which were rocket plays and victory plays. There was some more teaching today, but overall it was another successful practice.”
On ratcheting down the physicality of practice late in spring ball:
“You get after it after 10 [practices], and we got after it last Saturday and we’re going to get after it again. Really, I wanted to get after it on Saturday, so you’ve got to taper it down a bit. You’re always short in numbers in spring. It’ll be nice when we add 25 more [players] in August, but you’re always short numbers and guys are going to get banged up, but nothing serious.”
“A lot of times the mentality is that, when you go shells, the guys come out and think we’re playing soccer out here and we’re really not. So usually you get that. Everybody starts to play down, guys start to loaf around. And that’s what I talked to them prior to practice about—learning about how to play in shells because they like to go out there like that. Everybody likes to wear shorts. We can get the same work done. There’s not limited contact. We’re not just trying to tackle everyone to the ground. We’re trying to stay up. And it really helps our guys understand that we don’t have full pads on, so try to stay up. So I think maybe 15 guys fell to the ground today, which is good because you have less guys banged up that way.”
“There shouldn’t be a difference [between full pads and shells] except there’s a freshness. I think it’s more of a mental thing for these guys. When I told them we’re going out in shorts today, they got all excited. It’s a mental change, but it shouldn’t be a physical change. It’s a mental one.”
On tight end Chris Clark’s health status:
“Chris Clark will probably be out the rest of spring but there’s only four days to go. He’ll be ready after spring ball to work out.”
On overall improvement of quarterback Nathan Peterman this spring:
“I think he’s a lot more decisive with where he’s trying to throw the ball. I think Coach [Matt] Canada has changed his throwing motion as well. I think, fundamentally, he’s probably a little bit better. He’s so locked in and focused with what he’s trying to do. He’s always in there watching practice tape and watching his iPad. He’s a leader and he’s really locked into his offense. I’m excited for what he can do.”
On Peterman’s statistical production last year:
“He didn’t have the big plays. He threw a lot of intermediate short throws. But that comes with the type of offense you have. I think he’ll throw it a little deeper this year. That’s something we want to do, to stretch the defense a little bit. We just need a few more deep balls…It also goes with the scheme and what you’re trying to do.”
On assessing reserve quarterbacks in anticipation of spring game draft:
“I don’t think it’s going to be assessed but the players are going to get drafted. I’m sure Nathan [Peterman] will go on one team as probably a first-round draft choice. He’ll be drafted by the [player] coaches. It’ll be a coin toss. Then the other quarterbacks will get drafted that day. It’ll be interesting to see who the next quarterback to be drafted by a team will be when they get that choice. They’ll be on two different teams, but the other quarterbacks will get a snap, some more than others. It depends on the coach.”
On cornerback Avonte Maddox’s spring improvement:
“[Avonte has improved] probably more from a leadership standpoint. Lafayette [Pitts] was a leader, he really was. He did a good job. He was the cowbell of the secondary. I think Avonte, as well as Reggie [Mitchell] and Terrish Webb could take that over. We’ll see what happens.”
On Avonte Maddox, Ryan Lewis and Phillipie Motley competing at corner:
“There are still those three rotating with the ones mainly to keep them fresh. But Ryan Lewis has the upper hand [for the spot opposite of Maddox]. We’ll continue to evaluate. It changes daily. And we have some freshmen coming in that we’re excited about.”
On how the young corners are developing and responding to competition:
“They’re going to find out every day. It’s pass skelly. There’s no pass rush. The quarterback isn’t hanging out back there with the ball. I think that always changes, but you’ll find out during practices. We’ve had 11 days to find out, if a guy gets beat, how does he come back? Does he have his head down or does he wipe it off and play the next play? That’s something that you learn there. I think all of our corners understand that there’s going to be those days where we give up one. Just come back. Spring ball is different. The spring game is going to be a little different. Everyone is watching. ‘Are you embarrassed?’ and all of those things. There’s a lot more pressure September 3 and September 10 than there is right now.”

Wide Receivers Coach Kevin Sherman Quote Sheet
On his coaching focus during spring:
“It’s to get these guys to make more explosive plays. We’re getting there, getting two, getting three, but we’re kind of hit or miss on that. We need to make more explosive plays. The one word I keep talking about is consistency, but we’re getting better. Through 11 practices, I think we saw today how much we’ve improved. We’ve had some injuries and guys who’ve needed to step up and as a result they’re seeing themselves on video. I think they’re getting better.”
On Dontez Ford and Zach Challingsworth being limited this spring:
“You want your best 11 on the field and you want your experienced guys to be out there getting reps and helping those younger guys. There’s a guy like Tre Tipton who is getting a lot of reps and seeing himself on video. He gets to see if he can make those plays and do it with some consistency. He’s getting better. We have got to get mentally tougher and get physically tougher and overcome those injuries.”
On which players have made impressions this spring:
“Quadree Henderson is playing fast right now and is looking good. I think last year helped him in the fall, I think he knows how to practice now and how to play in game situations and stepping up and making plays. He’s getting better. Jester Weah continues to get better. Is he consistent all the time? No. But, I’ll tell you he’s getting better. The confidence is starting to come and once we get [Dontez] Ford back that’ll take some pressure off of him.”
On Jester Weah:
“His ball skills are getting better and he has to continue to work on those things. In those competitive situations, 50-50 balls, they have to turn into 80-20 balls our way. We saw him make two big plays on Saturday and then he comes out at Tuesday’s practice and he only makes one. You can’t leave the ball on the ground and in big-play situations we have to make those explosive plays. With not having Tyler Boyd we have to do it by committee now, and people have to step up and make plays.”
On Weah’s speed and size:
“Yeah, it can be intimidating for cornerbacks with that combination. Last year, he only played sparingly. Now he’s getting a lot more reps and is playing better. He has Saturday’s scrimmage to showcase and see if he can do that on a consistent basis. He needs to step up. With speed and size, that’s God-given talent, I can’t coach that. We can put you into the position to make plays but you have to make them.”
On Rafael Araujo-Lopes:
“He’s adding depth at the slot position. He’s a smart kid, doing a lot of things and is conscientious. The thing I like about him is he’s willing to learn. He’s another guy that hasn’t played a whole lot of football in the previous years. This spring is big and I think we’re looking for guys that can step up and be role players. The more guys we can have step up and be role players, the better we’ll be in the fall.”
On running back Rachid Ibrahim in the passing game:
“I like what the running backs are doing because we can split them out and get into some spread sets. I can’t speak for [running backs] Coach [Andre] Powell, only for a receiver standpoint. Once we get into those spread formations, the more guys we can have learning more positons the better off we’ll be. We’re getting better and have four or five more practices to finish the spring strong.”
On Tre Tipton:
“I think the thing we’re finding out is he has to work through things, from a mental and physical standpoint. He’s pushed through so far and has done good things. We just have to do it consistently. I think this spring and summer will be big for Tre and these guys to get chemistry with the quarterbacks and learn the system. Just continue to learn.”

Wide Receiver Tre Tipton Quote Sheet
On the extra reps he’s received:
“Right now everybody is getting the opportunities. We’re all getting reps with the injuries we’ve had on the receiving squad. Right now we’re just trying to push as hard as we can and be fast, and we’re working at it. I think we’re good.”
On his improvement from last year:
“Yeah, I’m definitely better than I was last year. I feel like I’m paying attention more to the defense. That aspect of it, you can see how the defense moves and their coverage, and have to understand that from the backfield so you don’t take the timing away from the quarterback. I feel like I’m learning that more so than anything. In my freshman year I feel like I had an issue with that and not looking at the coverage but I think I’m getting better at it.”
On the biggest challenge of college football:
“I think the biggest challenge of college is trying to find different ways to stay healthy. In high school it’s different because the speed of the game is understood. Once you get here, the speed is different. You need to find different ways to stay healthy. That’s the biggest transition.”
On being a product of a smaller school in Apollo-Ridge:
“Once you get here it doesn’t really matter where you’re from or what you did in high school. Where you’re high school is, that’s nice and dandy but once you get here it’s all about business. Everyone is given a fair shot whether you went to Pittsburgh Central Catholic or a smaller school like Apollo. I don’t think it matters. They’re going to test you on how well you can actually play and at the end of the day it’s your choice on how bad you want it and how you play.”
On making his hometown proud:
“Without a doubt, I think about it every day. That’s my hometown [Apollo]. I want to make them proud and make sure they have someone to look up to. To make sure that the thing they’re looking up to is not doing something wrong. I’ve been busting my butt for them and I hope they’re watching.”
On running backs as receiving targets:
“The system is set up for everyone to get the ball. At some point in time everybody is going to get the opportunity to show out and make plays. At the end of the day when you’re number is called you have to make those plays. It’s about us winning as many games as we possibly can this upcoming season. If they feel like they need to put someone out there in order to score and to win, then we’re going to do that. We’re going to push each other to make sure that the job gets done.”

Wide Receiver Jester Weah Quote Sheet
On working to be a better receiver:
“With all the work I have been putting in, I feel like I can do anything. I’m working at it and keeping my confidence up.”
On starting to play football in high school:
“I first started playing organized football my sophomore year and didn’t start playing varsity until my junior year.”
On what he did during the winter to prepare for this season:
“After every workout and during every winter workout I would be on the JUGS, catching at least 100 balls a day and working with the equipment managers.”
On what he is doing now outside of practice:
“In my free time I try to work with Nate [Peterman], whether it’s watching film or if it’s getting extra work in on the field.”
On Tyler Boyd’s relationship on him:
“He helps me in each and every way. I text him here and there. He always tells me to, ‘Go get it. Just work.’ If I keep my grind up, I can be there and it can happen

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