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Pitt Finds First Starting CB

The Pitt Panthers are confident they've found at least one starting cornerback replacement.

PITTSBURGH -- The departure of three veteran starting cornerbacks has left the Pitt Panthers with a massive void in their defensive secondary entering this offseason. 

The good news is that just three practices deep into spring ball, the Panthers feel they can pencil at least one player in atop the depth chart - redshirt sophomore, Ryland Gandy. 

“Ryland’s been outstanding," head coach Pat Narduzzi said. "I think if I asked most of the guys out there ‘Hey, who’s our starting corners?’ I think the first name that would come out of their mouths would be Ryland."

Gandy played in all 12 games last season, primarily as a special teamer but he earned more snaps at cornerback late in the season, as the Panthers anticipated the departure of M.J. Devonshire, A.J. Woods and Marquis Williams. 

It's been a long time coming for Gandy to rise to the top of the depth chart after all three of the veterans in front of him departed for the NFL Draft. He had to do the most difficult thing for a talented player to do - stay patient and wait his turn. But it was time well-spent, Gandy said. He needed time to grow before he was ready to take on this challenge. 

"It was really just a time for me to learn and grow as a player because, honestly I wasn’t there as much as I thought I was there," Gandy said. "Coach [Archie] Collins saw that I wasn’t there so he just wanted me to continue to learn from them and now that they’re gone, it’s my turn to come up on the scene."

There's a long way to go until the season opener and a lot could change for the Panthers between now and kickoff against Kent State but they feel confident knowing Gandy is on track to becoming a starter and succeeded a decorated group of corners. 

"The great thing about Ryland is that he’s been patient. You had those three really good corners last year and he stayed patient, he never got down, he’s never in my office whining," Narduzzi said. "He’s trusted the process throughout.”

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