Offseason spotlight: Pitt

This is not a "biggest shoes to fill" series, in which case many ACC teams would simply need a new quarterback to step up. In Pitt's case, that would mean defensive linemen bearing quite the burden in trying to replace all-everything tackle Aaron Donald after his historic 2013 campaign.

But the Panthers nonetheless are one of nine league teams that need to replace a starting signal-caller, so that position gets the nod here as we spotlight one of the program's most important players as it enters Year 2 in the ACC.

Spotlight: Redshirt sophomore QB Chad Voytik

2013 summary: In the first college action of his career, Voytik appeared in four games and completed 6 of 11 passes for 116 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He added three rushes for 26 yards and a score on the ground. His biggest contribution came in the Little Caesars Bowl against Bowling Green when he relieved an injured Tom Savage after halftime, playing the entire second half and completing 5 of 9 passes for 108 yards while rushing twice for 24 yards. His 5-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter broke a 20-20 tie in what ended up being a 30-27 Panthers win.

The skinny: Pitt will have just two scholarship quarterbacks on its roster when it opens spring ball Tuesday, as Voytik is joined by former walk-on Trey Anderson, a senior who has seen limited action. And the Panthers will no longer have the services of quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger, who left the program to pursue non-football opportunities. That means coach Paul Chryst will take a bigger hand in the development of his signal-callers, and he says Voytik and Anderson will split reps this spring. Chryst, a former quarterback during his days at Wisconsin, is the only ACC head coach to double as a quarterbacks coach, and he had to have liked what he saw from Voytik when he was thrust into the spotlight in the 2013 finale in Detroit.

In the bowl game, Voytik keyed a youth movement on an offense that saw major contributions from freshmen James Conner and Tyler Boyd. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Voytik took over with his team down seven points and efficiently managed the Panthers' comeback bid without Savage, hitting five different receivers and showing some mobility outside of the pocket against a Falcons defense that had entered the game topping the Mid-American Conference in every major category.

Now it's up to the former ESPN four-star prospect to fend off Anderson, as Chryst has insisted that the competition for the starting job remains wide open. Voytik will be throwing to a group of receivers that loses its leader in Devin Street and is coached by new staff addition Greg Lewis, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pitt's young studs left a strong impression in the bowl win, and the Panthers have become a popular dark-horse pick to contend for the Coastal Division crown. Much of that, however, comes down to Voytik, who needs to take command in the offseason and assure everyone that he is ready to help the program take the next step in Year 3 of the Chryst era after consecutive six-win regular seasons.