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Aug. 11, 2011

Former Woodland Hills High standouts Khaynin Mosley-Smith, Lafayette Pitts and Juan Price led the Wolverines to a WPIAL Championship in 2009.

Now the trio will try to work together to win another title, only this time as members of the Pitt football team as all three join the Panthers defense as freshmen for the 2011 season.

"We're going for the national title, that's our goal," Mosley-Smith said.

While training camp is still in its early stages, Smith (a defensive tackle), Pitts (cornerback) and Price (outside linebacker) have already lined up together at the same time on the practice field. It reminds them of their high school football days.

"It's like old times basically," Mosley-Smith said.

But in order for the three highly touted local products to help contribute to a championship season, they must first learn head coach Todd Graham's up-tempo scheme.

Learning a brand-new college playbook for a freshman is never easy, but it's especially difficult in Graham's advanced system.

"It's fast so we have to learn kind of fast," Pitts said.

Yet the freshman cornerback has proven to be a fast learner, already competing for second-team reps and intercepting a pass for a touchdown on Wednesday in full team drills.

"I was just watching the quarterback and watching him release the ball and I was sitting right there on it," Pitts said of his pick six.

Price and Mosley-Smith both agreed they have needed an accelerated learning curve when it comes to the playbook, but both are ready for the challenge.

"I think once we get 100 percent confident with the plays we'll be quicker on everything," Price said. "So once we learn the plays we'll be right where we need to be."

But even after just the first few days, Price is a player who has seemed to stick out in Graham's mind.

"It will be a battle (at outside linebacker) but the young man, Juan Price, from Woodland Hills is pretty special so he will be in the mix as well," Graham said this week.

Mosley-Smith and Pitts both cited numerous players that have helped them adjust to the college game since they've been at Pitt. But for Price, there's one guy in particular who's really helped his progression.

"For me it's (linebacker) Brandon Lindsey because we play the same position," Price said. "So whatever I do he's always right behind me and letting me know what to do, what I'm looking for and what my keys are."

"The players and the coaches make me feel very comfortable and I'm buying into what they're doing," Pitts said. "So it's going pretty well right now."

Woodland Hills Products Feeling at Home with Panthers

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