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Pitt

Panther Hollow: Tight End J.P. Holtz Previews Pitt-FSU

By Matt Popchock
J.P. Holtz

Tight end J.P. Holtz earned Big 33 honors at Shaler before a promising freshman season at Pitt in 2012. (Photo Credit: Dave Marmarelli/DMG Photos/Shaler Athletic Dept.)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Questions will be answered when Pitt hosts No. 11 Florida State in its ACC opener tonight at Heinz Field, including, perhaps, this one: what can their new, home-grown tight ends do to allay fears about Paul Chryst’s offense?

In 2012 J.P. Holtz proved, in his case, age is just a number by earning ten starts as a pure freshman. Holtz (6’4″, 245 lbs.) caught 13 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns just one year removed from an all-conference season at nearby Shaler, and he feels even more confident about his role and his command of Chryst’s playbook heading into this season.

“I feel like a whole different player than I was last year,” he said.

Backing him up will be fellow WPIAL standout Scott Orndoff (6’5″, 255 lbs.), who brings more size and versatility to the Panthers’ offensive front from his days at Seton-LaSalle. Joining him will be redshirt junior Manasseh Garner (6’2″, 230 lbs.), who, via Brashear, emerged in training camp as a serious pass-catching threat, and Gateway product Jaymar Parrish (6’2″, 230 lbs.), who impressed coaches with his own play at the tight end/fullback spot this summer.

“It’s definitely going to be something new for the younger guys, like Scotty and Jaymar. We have a solid group of tight ends this year. It’s a lot more depth than last year,” Holtz said. “I don’t think they’ll be overwhelmed. I think they know what’s coming to them.”

With several inexperienced starters on offense, the chief challenge for Holtz and the Panthers will be finding ways to move the ball on the ‘Noles, who ranked second nationally in total defense last season and have a nice blend of young and old talent in that unit.

In fact, both teams enter the 2013 campaign with different defensive coordinators. Matt House is entering his first full year on the job at Pitt, while Jeremy Pruitt previously directed Nick Saban’s defense.

Holtz said they’ve actually watched some old Alabama film in an effort to better scout tonight’s opponent:

Kickoff tonight is set for 8:00 on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan, your flagship home for Pitt football.

(Contact me at mpopchock@kdka.com and/or follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)

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