One week from today, the college football recruiting “Dead Period” is over and coaches are able to see prospective recruits. Teams are also a month away from the start of camp, so the Pitt coaches will be busy for the next four weeks.
With the addition of Florida linebacker Albert Tucker last week, Pat Narduzzi now has a total of 9 verbal commitments. I’m guessing that Pitt will take between 21-22 recruits this year, so coaches have around 12-13 recruits left to sign.
Who will fill those remaining spots?
Here’s a position breakdown of the 9 verbal commitments:
1 QB (Kenny Pickett)
1 RB (Todd Sibley)
1 WR (Darian Street)
1 OL (Owen Drexel)
1 DE (Carson Van Lynn)
3 LB (Albert Tucker, Cam Bright, Kyle Nunn)
1 DB (Paris Ford)
Quarterback – With the addition of Pickett, I’d imagine that’s it for quarterbacks this year and Pitt won’t take another one. Next season the quarterback depth chart will be Bo Schneider, Ben DiNucci, Thomas MacVittie and Pickett. I’d imagine the Panthers could try and get an early commitment from a 2018 quarterback.
Running Back – Sibley is a good early commitment and Pitt will be looking to add at least one more back. The 2017 depth chart is James Conner, Rachid Ibrahim, Darrin Hall, Qadree Ollison, Chawntez Moss, George Hill (possibly) and Sibley. Keep in mind, this is likely Conner’s last year at Pitt and it’s yet to be determined what side of the ball Hill will play on full-time. 3-star back Devin Darrington from Bel Air, Maryland is definitely a candidate for that remaining running back scholarship.
Wide Receiver – Darian Street is Pitt’s lone wide receiver commitment for this year, but he won’t be the last. Dontez Ford is the only Panther that’s scheduled to graduate, but there’s always a possibility of players leaving and I could see that happening.
The 2017 depth chart looks like Ruben Flowers, Aaron Mathews, Maurice Ffrench, Quadree Henderson, Tre Tipton, Rafeal Araujo-Lopes, Zach Challingsworth, Jester Weah and Street. At this point, I’d be surprised if Dontavius Butler (Plantation, Florida) doesn’t give Pitt a verbal soon. Legacy player Connor Heyward is another recruit that I believe will eventually commit to Pitt. If the opportunity presents itself, will Pitt take 3 wide receivers?
Tight End – As I’ve written plenty of times, tight end is a position that Pitt needs some depth at considering they’re losing Scott Orndorff and Jaymar Parrish. Although they’ve offered 13 tight end recruits, Pitt’s #1 target is still available; Charles Reeves from Steubenville, Ohio. Players such as John Kirven (Woodberry, Virginia and Jake Paulson (Louisville, Kentucky) are also possibilities. Remember that Pitt’s offense will have elite 5-star prospect Chris Clark in 2017, who’s sitting out this season after transferring.
Offensive Line – John Peterson will be losing 2 very good players after this season in Dorian Johnaon and Adam Bisnowaty, two rocks on the Panther line for the last few seasons. Pitt has talented players in reserve like Alex Bookser, Mike Grimm, Brian O’Neil, Alex Paulina and Brandon Ford, but will be looking to re-stock their depth. New Jersey lineman Owen Drexel is an early commit and will likely be joined by 3 other recruits. Upper St Clair OT Gabe Houy, New Jersey’s Carter Warren, Ohio’s Thayer Munford, Florida’s Connor Robbins, New Jersey’s Josh Fedd-Jackson and Washington DC’s Johnny Jordan are players that Pitt is heavily recruiting.
Defensive End – This is an important position in Pat Narduzzi’s defensive scheme, so Pitt will always be looking to add elite talent. Seniors Ejuan Price and Shakir Soto graduate after the 2016 season. The future depth chart looks like Rori Blair, Allen Edwards, James Folston, Dewayne Hendrix, Zack Gilbert, Patrick Jones Rashad Weaver and 2017 commit Carson Van Lynn.
Elite recruits like James Hudson, Victor Dimukeje, Jacob Lichtenstein, Noah Curtis and TyJuan Garbutt are being heavily recruited. If 2 of these players want to commit, Narduzzi will no doubt take them.
Linebacker – Three linebackers (Cam Bright, Kyle Nunn, Albert Tucker) have already given Pitt a verbal commitment. Do the Panthers have room for another one? My answer to that is depends on the player. If Virginia’s Ellis Brooks, New Jersey’s Drew Singleton or Maryland’s Nathan Proctor want to join, I know that Pitt finds room. Earlier in the week I talked with Florida linebacker Diego Fagot who told me that the offer he had from Pitt is no longer available. Unfortunately, some kids wait too long to commit and the teams fills the position early.
Defensive Tackle – Like defensive end, Pitt is pursuing a few very talented recruits at the defensive tackle position. Beaver Falls Donovan Jeter and New Jersey’s Fred Hansard are 2 players that are atop the entire Pitt recruiting board. Derrius Mullins from Columbus, Ohio is another prime target. Josh Conklin only loses one player (Tyrique Jarrett), but has a ton of young talent with Keyshon Camp, Bryce Hargrove, Amir Watts and Rashad Wheeler. I could see Pitt taking 2 defensive tackles in this year’s class.
Secondary – The Pitt secondary is loaded with a bunch of young playmakers. Last year, Pitt pulled in Damar Hamlin, Therran Coleman, Henry Miller, Phil Campbell, Bricen Garner and have Paris Ford coming next year. Narduzzi is also hunting 2 names that Pitt fans are very familiar with in Lamont Wade and Bruce Judson. I’m not sure yet if it’s been determined where Judson will play in college because he’s talented enough to play on offensive or defense. Other names to keep an eye on are Derrek Pitts, Deon Jones, Josiah Scott, Quentin Lake, Harrison Hand and Quentin Lake.