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August 16, 2011Pitt redshirt freshman Anthony Gonzalez may have found a new home.
After being recruited as a quarterback and spending his first year-and-a-half of college at that position, Gonzalez has worked with Pitt's H-back/tight end group the last two days, and on Tuesday, head coach Todd Graham talked about the move.
"I think Anthony is doing a good job for us," Graham said. "We're using him in kind of a I called him 'Slash' today."
Gonzalez was one of Pitt's standouts this spring. His dual-threat ability excited the coaches, who named him the offensive recipient of the Ed Conway Award, which is presented annually to the most improved players in spring camp. He finished spring camp as the second-team quarterback behind Tino Sunseri, but a tumultuous offseason changed that order.
Gonzalez had knee surgery immediately after spring camp. Then in May, Gonzalez was arrested in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pa., for possession of marijuana after the drug was found in a car he was riding in.
Graham suspended Gonzalez indefinitely, and then made the punishment specific to the first two games of the season. So, at the onset of training camp, Gonzalez was behind Sunseri, redshirt freshman Mark Myers, and walk-on freshman Trey Anderson.
"We think he's too good an athlete to be sitting over there as the third-team quarterback," Graham said. "So we asked him to come in and we'd take a look at him for some receiver stuff, and we were somewhat impressed.
"We're going to use him in a dual role. He still needs to be our third quarterback, but we're still going to use him."
A three-star recruit in the class of 2010, Gonzalez was one of the best all-around athletes in the state of Pennsylvania as a multi-sport standout at Bethlehem Liberty. He led the Hurricanes to the 2008 PIAA Class AAAA state football championship while passing for 1,580 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushing for 1,697 yards and 24 touchdowns. He added another 2,000-plus all-purpose yards and 25 total touchdowns as a senior.
Additionally, he was a star guard for the Liberty basketball team.
Tight ends coach Tony Dews said that Gonzalez could be used in different packages or situations. The redshirt freshman showed versatility in his first three practices at the position (two on Monday, one on Tuesday), making a sensational one-handed diving catch in Monday night's practice and then excelling in the various responsibilities of the position.
"I was here last night watching film and I watched every single thing that he did throughout the whole practice, and he looks like he's been doing it," Graham said on Tuesday. "He doesn't look like some guy that just moved over and started doing it; he looks like a guy who's a natural doing it. So he's pretty natural at that position.
"I think it's because he's such an athlete; he actually looks faster running down the field on a seam route than he does as a quarterback."
Graham added that Sunday's scrimmage was probably Gonzalez's best at quarterback, but the coaching staff wanted to see if he could contribute at another position in the offense.
"I'm excited about it. It was, 'Let's just take a look and see what he looks like,' because he was coming off his best scrimmage as a quarterback, so he's definitely got to be in that role for us. But he's got some potential, so we're excited about it."