Pitt receiver Devin Street thought about leaving school early for the NFL draft, shortly after he posted his best season yet in his final Big East season.
But Street was not quite ready to leave. Not with a few goals left on his checklist. Street has an opportunity in 2013 to set school career marks for receptions and receiving yards, and has it in his mind to become "one of the top wide receivers in the nation."
"I want to prove a lot more," Street said in a recent phone interview. "I just want to be a complete wide receiver, play tougher, play stronger. I want to get a little bigger. I want to be more durable and be more consistent and a better playmaker."
Street has already added 15 pounds and is up to 205, where he would like to be when the season begins. The added muscle has not impacted his speed. Rather, he feels much stronger and able to shed tacklers more easily than in previous seasons. That should allow him to improve his yards after the catch, a huge goal for him this season.
He also wants to be a much bigger deep threat. One of the biggest problems the Pitt offense had the past several seasons was an inability to make explosive plays down the field. Tino Sunseri struggled throwing the deep ball, and was more comfortable with short and intermediate routes.
Last season Street had a career year with 975 yards, but many of of his receptions came off bubble routes, where he would gain 6 or 7 yards at a time. With Sunseri gone, the hope is that the Panthers can open up the offense a little more. Tom Savage and Chad Voytik are competing for the starting job. Both have stronger arms than Sunseri.
"We’ve hit so many deep balls in spring already," Street said. "Tom throws a great deep ball, so I’m really excited about that. Whenever I get a chance to go, I go and Tom hits it. The coaches are more comfortable in spring ball calling a lot more shots down the field. That has to be an emphasis for us. We have to make defenses play honest. We have to back them up a little bit and get them on their toes. If we can work on that, everyone will see a difference."
Street also has an added role this year -- veteran leader. With Mike Shanahan gone, Street is the only real known commodity in the receiver group. He has taken on more of a leadership role as he helps mentor some of the younger players who will be pressed into a bigger role.
"I don’t have all the answers, but I think I do have a great understanding of the game," Street said. "Guys come to me, ask me questions. I help lead them from my experiences. I help them not just in the receiver room, but the whole team. I want to step up into a leadership role for this team and help them, because I think every team needs a great leader and I want to be someone that guys can lean on and come to and get guys going and get us in the right direction and not have another losing season."