The Pitt football program has added several quality preferred walk-on candidates within the last few weeks including Wexford (PA) North Allegheny High School wide receiver John Vardzel (5-foot-11 inches, 175 pounds) and Pittsburgh (PA) Imani Christian Academy defensive tackle Dorail Walls (6-foot-2 inches, 292 pounds). The latest athlete to join Vardzel and Walls has an interesting connection to the Pitt football program.
Defensive end Chris Maloney (6-foot-3 inches, 230 pounds) from La Salle College High School in Huntingdon Valley, PA announced will be will join the Panthers as a preferred walk-on candidate last week. If his high school sounds familiar, he comes from the same school as Pitt starting center Jimmy Morrissey.
Morrissey, like Maloney, joined Pitt as a preferred walk-on. He immediately impressed the coaching staff as a freshman and eventually was put on scholarship. Maloney is hoping to follow the exact path to success.
“I went out to Pitt to visit, just the school, nothing football related and I texted Jimmy Morrissey and wanted to see if he wanted to grab lunch or something, and he asked if I wanted to come see the football facilities. Jimmy then passed on my film to one of the recruiting assistants. They became really interested in me,” said Maloney. “That’s when I got a tour of all of the facilities. Pitt was surreal to me because they share their facilities with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I started talking with Coach (Charlie) Partridge. Since then things have really taken off.”
Maloney was asked about his strengths at the defensive end position and he stated, “I can really get off the ball. I can time the snap well and surprise tackles how quickly I get off the ball. I have great strength as well. Tackles believe they are going to push me of the ball and I hold my ground. I get tucked in, stay stationary and make the tackle.”
“I just think I’m smart as well. I have a strong football IQ. I can read plays really well. If there’s a screen coming, I can adjust and make the play. I think I bring a lot of tools to the defensive end position.”
Maloney is a highly competitive young man and he’s hoping to eventually make an impact on the Panthers’ defense. I asked about his immediate goals and he stated, “I just want to go out there and compete. If I could go right now I would. I’m just so excited to get out there and start learning the system and getting better as a player. I don’t honestly think I’ve reached the best that I can be. Pitt is a great place and I’m excited to be going there.”
Maloney is fortunate to have a past and future teammate in Morrissey that has already gone through the preferred walk-on process. He was asked about his interaction with Morrissey and replied, “He’s been a real mentor through the process. If I ever had questions, I could text Jimmy and asked him questions. I know that will continue. Jimmy is a great guy and he’s been through the exact same thing I’m going through. I will continue to pick his brain my freshman year.”
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru