PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) Two of Pitt’s big-bodied offensive standouts have been named to preseason award watch lists for their respective positions.
Senior tight end JP Holtz, a Shaler High School product, was named to the watch list for the John Mackey Award, which is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding tight end, while Alex Officer, a redshirt sophomore offensive lineman, was named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, awarded at season’s end to the nation’s best center.
Holtz has started all but three games in his career. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder finished second to standout wide receiver Tyler Boyd last year in receptions (21) and touchdown catches (four). Over his career, Holtz has reeled in 57 catches for 581 yards (10.2 avg.) and has caught seven touchdowns.
Officer, who checks in at 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds, started 10 games last season at center, but he could play elsewhere in Pitt’s trenches in 2015 since the Panthers sustained a potentially devastating blow last week. Jaryd Jones-Smith, a redshirt sophomore who projected as Pitt’s starting right tackle in 2015, will miss the season due to injury, and the rest of the Panthers offensive line could consequently experience several positional shifts. Officer got the nod to start at center last year after Artie Rowell suffered a season-ending knee injury two games into the season, and Rowell, a senior, has regained full health.
Both Holtz’ and Officer’s seasons will rely heavily on the style of play new Pitt offensive coordinator Jim Chaney elects. In 2006 and 2007, Chaney served as offensive line coach for the St. Louis Rams before switching to the Rams tight ends coach in 2008. In addition, three of the tight ends Chaney coached during his tenure at Tennessee and later Arkansas were selected in the NFL Draft.
Holtz joins 32 other Division I tight ends, including Penn State’s Kyle Carter, on the watch list, and Officer is mentioned alongside 65 of the nation’s centers, including West Virginia’s Tyler Orlosky and Penn State’s Angelo Mangiro.