Redshirt sophomore defensive end Michael Pitts looks to replace Bryan Wright’s role as a defensive end this season. Last year, the athletic Wright was bright spot in a statistically frustrating UC defense.
#11 Bryan Wright is now transitioning to the middle linebacker position. The 6’ 4” 240 lb. freak of an athlete played quarterback in high school, and now gets to be the play caller on the other side of the ball. For the Bearcats to have success stopping opposing offenses, #43 Michael Pitts will need to fill Wright’s shoes on the D-line. This will also be year two under defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s scheme, which should provide the consistently needed for improvement.
Mr. Pitts was ranked a three-star recruit out of high school. He has the size to play the edge and can run a ridiculous 4.6 40-yard dash. He has put on weight and muscle, having now spent two seasons in the program. Pitts is currently listed at 6’ 4” ad 255 lbs.
He will be used as a defensive end, hybrid linebacker, and play the Jack position. In the technical link of a 3-4 defensive scheme, the Jack is a hybrid of defensive end and linebacker. It gives big linebackers or small defensive ends a position. The Jack is pass rush specialist, but like a linebacker, is expected to defend against the pass in zone and man situations, as well.
Both Wright and Pitts have similar size, weight, and speed. On paper the two players are indeed interchangeable. The question becomes the intangibles and the in-game play the coaches simply cannot teach. Wright is a special player, capable of making interceptions, dropping in zone coverage, and wreaking havoc in the backfield. He now gets to contribute a larger role in the linebacker core. Michael Pitts has shown a lot of promise through Camp Higher Ground. Fingers crossed, this transitions to Saturdays.
A handful of players on this year’s team are from Georgia other than Pitts, including the all-important senior defensive tackle #96 Cortez Broughton. Doesn’t it feel as though Cortez has been a permanent fixture in Clifton? It will be very sad to see the energetic 6’ 2” 290 lb. mountain of a man leave after this season.
Pitts is “so happy to be back on campus” after 21 days of Camp Higher Ground. On Friday the team had a mock game to prepare for the trip to UCLA. The team has also been watching film from Chip Kelly’s days at Oregon, as well as his time throughout the NFL in San Francisco and Philadelphia.
Michael is a criminal justice major. Classes are going well and he is excited to work hard and ball out this year. You can catch him at the Chic-Fil-A on campus or the Pieology at U-Square when he’s hungry. He also loves to play Fortnite.
Pitts has never been to California so he is thrilled to play in the Rose Bowl at UCLA next week.
By Andy Smith