Last week I took a look at which Pitt Freshman would break through and make an immediate impact on offense this season. Dontavius Butler-Jenkins was my pick but I would like to make it very clear that with the talent coming into the Pitt program, there are a few guys that I truthfully believe could make an immediate impact on offense. The same holds true on the defensive side of the ball, maybe even to a higher degree, but for the sake of the article, I had to pick one.
First of all, playing as a true freshman is really, really hard. Playing big time Division I football as a true freshman is even harder. In fact, of any sport, earning playing time as a freshman football player is the most difficult to attain. I think we forget, it was not until the 1972 season, that freshman were even eligible to play college football. Now, in a world of bigger, stronger, faster players, redshirting, learning a brand new playbook and more complex schemes, being a contributing player is harder than ever. However, there are always a few that break through and earn playing time because all the pieces fall into place. Two years ago it was Jordan Whitehead, last year players like Aaron Mathews and Maurice Ffrench took that giant leap. This year, I’m not going to beat around the bush, its Garfield’s own, Paris Ford.
Paris is a different breed. It is what it is, call it what you want, but he has IT. You know, that IT people always talk about when referring to guys like Aaron Donald or Larry Fitzgerald, well Paris Ford has IT and he absolutely owns it. Ford committed to Pitt over just about everyone else in the country early in his junior year and never looked back. On the field, I would describe Ford as a center fielder in a football uniform. His anticipation is second to none. Ford is a ball hawk in every sense of the word but don’t let that fool you because if he sees a play developing in front of him, he will come up and hit someone in the mouth. Physicality and finesse, two words that usually don’t go hand in hand, all of a sudden do. I urge you to watch his HUDL and if you missed his hit in the Under-Armour All American Game; I suggest you watch that as well.
I know what everyone is thinking. Paris Ford is not at Pitt…YET. He had some things that needed to be taken care of academically. Paris went to three high schools in four years. His family moved around, and he looked for the best opportunity both academically and athletically. If anyone has ever dealt with the NCAA Clearinghouse, you will know that credits, especially from private high schools, don’t always transfer to other high schools. This causes you to have to retake those classes, some of which you may have already taken and passed.
If I were to compare Ford to another player, the first guy that jumps off the page is the late great Sean Taylor. Taylor was a stud at the University of Miami and then with the Washington Redskins. He had it all on the field, but was a leader everywhere he went. Paris Ford is a leader and one of the most competitive kids I’ve come to know.
Will Paris Ford arrive at Pitt this year? Nobody knows except for Paris, his parents, and maybe Coach Narduzzi. Do I think Paris works everything out and gets to Pitt for the start of training camp? Yes, I not only think Ford will be part of the Pitt Football team, I think he will be a superstar, sooner rather than later.