The Pitt Panthers have suffered a tumultuous offseason in 2013, starting with the news that Rushel Shell would be leaving the program. Shell was projected as the starter next season and figured to carry a significant load in head coach Paul Chryst‘s run-first offense. With his departure, the Panthers were forced to scramble to decide a new pecking order for the backfield and that’s when junior Isaac Bennett stepped up. Following a strong spring, Bennett is poised to take advantage as the main man in the running game for Pitt next season.
It will be a different role for Bennett as he moves up into featured back status. The last two seasons, he has finished third in rushing, including in 2012 when he gained just 141 yards on 29 carries, though he was able to find the endzone three times. He wasn’t able to move his way up the depth chart with more experienced or more explosive backs ahead of him. That will not be the case, however in 2013.
That means that Bennett’s time is now to show what he is capable of. Bennett finds himself as the best option at the roster and the most experienced, responding to the opportunity to be the featured back by putting together a strong spring practice session. He led the offense during the spring game, rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown, but will still have to translate that production onto the field next fall.
After spending years as the backup to the backup, Isaac Bennett is finally getting his chance to take the reins for the Pitt running game in 2013. Does he have what it takes to carry it through the ACC next season?