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September 27, 2013

Another opportunity for freshmen

With news that redshirt senior middle linebacker Shane Gordon is doubtful for Saturday's home game against Virginia, another Pitt freshman is about to be thrust into a major role.

This time the newcomer about to step into the spotlight is Matt Galambos, a freshman linebacker from Collingdale, Pa. Galambos ascended to the backup middle linebacker position over the course of training camp and the first two games of the season, and he rotated in for occasional snaps with the first-team defense in the wins over New Mexico and Duke.

Now he is likely to be the starter in the middle of the defense on Saturday.

"He's an instinctive linebacker," head coach Paul Chryst said Thursday when he announced that Gordon was unlikely to play. "Certainly there is that period of adjustment that all freshmen go through; he's no different. But I think he's a good young player."

Galambos (6'2" 215) has played in all three games this season, primarily on special teams, and has recorded nine total tackles. He also had a tackle for loss in the New Mexico game. While he'll be inserted into the starting lineup for the first time, Chryst said that Galambos has the advantage of having worked with the first-team defense this week while Gordon was on the sidelines.

As a standout linebacker at the Haverford School, Galambos was named to the Class AAA all-state teams by the Pennsylvania Sportswriters and Pennsylvania Football News after his senior season in 2012. He had 104 tackles and five sacks last year, and when injuries forced him to take over as the primary ball-carrier, he responded with a 19-carry/206-yard performance in his first game at running back.

Galambos finished the season with 818 yards and six touchdowns on 156 carries (5.2 yards per carry), and he carried his knack for making plays into the Big 33 Football Classic, where he blocked a PAT kick and returned it to the end zone for two points.

So far this season, Pitt has used 12 freshmen, but Galambos figures to be the third newcomer to start on offense or defense. Receiver Tyler Boyd has started the last two games, and tight end Scott Orndoff started the opener against Florida State.

Pitt has also used fullback Jaymar Parrish, running backs James Conner and Rachid Ibrahim, offensive tackle Dorian Johnson, defensive end Shakir Soto, defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett, cornerback Titus Howard, safety Terrish Webb and kicker Chris Blewitt from the freshman class.

Soto and Webb could both see increased snaps this week due to other injury situations. At defensive end, redshirt sophomore Devin Cook is out for the season with an ACL injury and redshirt junior Bryan Murphy is questionable for Saturday with an ankle injury, which opens opportunities for Soto. And at safety, redshirt junior Cullen Christian is out for Saturday's game with a toe injury; Christian was a top reserve at free safety, and his absence could make way for Webb to see the field on defense.

Pitt (2-1 overall, 1-1 ACC) hosts Virginia at 12:30 pm on Saturday for the Panthers' Homecoming game.




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