Panther-lair - Sear takes the lead at tight end
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Sear takes the lead at tight end

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The outlook for Pitt's tight ends in 2018 changed quickly this offseason.

Returning starter Chris Clark walked away from football for personal reasons after spring camp. Then Charles Reeves, a promising redshirt freshman, was dismissed from the team in the days leading up to fall camp.

Suddenly a position that looked well-stocked became very thin. The Panthers’ coaching staff netted Arkansas graduate transfer Will Gregg to help with depth. They lined up freshman Kaymar Mimes at tight end after recruiting him to play defense. And they have also converted a walk-on, Jimm Medure, to tight end to help with the numbers.

Amid the change, the one constant in the tight ends’ room has been sophomore Tyler Sear.

As a true freshman a year ago, Sear managed got onto the field and play in spots throughout the season. Still, as the team’s top returning option at tight end, the experience is minimal.

“Tyler’s made a lot of progress,” Pitt tight ends coach Tim Salem said last week. “He played early, then he really kind of played late, and he played really well in the Miami game in the second half.”

Salem added, “When you watch that you’d think he was running around the field like he was more of a junior and senior the way he played in the second half of the game. So when you do that your expectations should be high as a player and high as a coach.”

Like most of the Pitt team, coaches are pointing towards that Miami game as a building block for this year, and that's true for Sear. He recorded two starts last year - Virginia Tech and Miami, the final two games of the year - and he’s hoping to carry that strong play into the 2018 season while also trying to juggle being a leader of the inexperienced group.

“I’m doing my best,” Sear said. “I’ve only played probably 100 snaps of college football, but I’m doing the best I can and I’m going in and working as hard as I can everyday and just trying to set an example for the young guys.”

Sear mentions "young guys" casually, but almost everyone other than Mimes is either as old as him or older in that tight end’s room. Still, Sear is still looking to lend a helping hand Mimes and even Medure, who is new to the position.

“He’s a really good natural athlete,” Sear said of Mimes. “He’ll be fine, he just really needs to focus and get that playbook down and all of the freshmen do. Everybody goes through that phrase the first ten or so days of camp. I went through that myself and you kind of hit that wall and you’re like a little frustrated because you don’t know the plays. Kaymar will be fine."

Salem has his work cut out for him this season. With a number of new bodies around the position, camp has created some learning experiences, but still the clock is ticking before the season begins on Sept. 1.

“They’re learning multiple positions right now, which in the long run is all going to make us a better football team - when they can all kind of do more than one thing,” Salem said.

“They are showing that and doing that, so it makes practice interesting every day, because there’s a lot to learn and do in a short amount of time.”

Sear is a local guy and is known for being a competitive and fiery player, and it’s not surprising that Sear has high ambitions for this season and beyond as a Panther.

“I want to be part of the group that wins that national championship, that ACC championship and I want to do it in my hometown, and I want to be from Pittsburgh, playing in Pittsburgh, and holding the trophy in Pittsburgh.”