Pitt is close to putting a wrap on its Class of 2018.
Tomorrow at 10:30 AM, they’ll find out the decisions of both running back Mychale Salahuddin and defensive end Habbukkuk Baldonado. The only other player that eventually could join the team is Rutgers grad transfer safety Kiy Hester.
Let’s start off with a prediction. Which of these players will sign with Pitt?
I’m going to say all three of them will be suiting up for the Panthers come spring. Salahuddin is the player that Pitt fans will have the most interest in because of his national ranking as a 4-star recruit and breakaway back.
If I’m correct and Pat Narduzzi hits the jackpot, here are some observations on Pitt’s Class of 2018.
Under the assumption that Pitt lands Salahuddin, Baldonado and Hester, here’s a positional breakdown.
QB (2) Nick Patti, Ricky Town
RB (1) Mychale Salahuddin
WR (3) Shocky Jacques-Louis, Cameron O’Neil, Taysir Mack (Indiana transfer)
OL (4) Blake Zubovic, Chase Brown, Jake Kradel, Stefano Millin (Kent State grad transfer)
DT (3) Tyler Bentley, David Green, Devin Danielson
DE (4) John Morgan, Noah Palmer, Kaymar Mimes, Habbukkuk Baldonado
LB (1) Wendell Davis
DB (5) Marquis Williams, V’lique Carter, Judson Tallandier, Erick Hallett, Kiy Hester (Rutgers grad transfer)
**Pat Narduzzi and his staff are earning the reputation of being strong finishers. Last year, they added 4-star running back AJ Davis on Signing Day and this year, we believe that they’ll add another 4-star talent in Salahuddin. If this happens, it will give the Panthers tremendous talent at the running back position. How about a possible depth chart of 4-star recruits Salahuddin, Davis, Darrin Hall and Todd Sibley, who’s a former Ohio State recruit and Quadree Ollison, who previously won ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
**Aside from running back, the other position that the Panthers are starting to develop some serious depth is at defensive tackle. Danielson is a player that some people believe will crack the Panthers depth chart this season and earn playing time. Danielson is that good. Also, if he’s able to open some eyes early, don’t discount Bentley seeing the field this season.
Here’s the talent that Charlie Partridge is going to be able to coach at defensive tackle the next few seasons:
Pitt defensive tackles: Danielson, Bentley, Green, Jaylen Twyman, Keyshon Camp, Amir Watts, Shane Roy and Rashad Wheeler.
If Baldonado signs, Pitt will be taking four defensive ends in this class and all four have the body type and quickness to get to the quarterbacks. Because of the depth at that position, I wouldn’t be surprised to see three if not all four players redshirt next season. Players such as Rashad Weaver, Patrick Jones, Deslin Alexandre, James Folston and Dewayne Hendrix are returning so Pitt appears set at that position.
**Pitt lost two commitments at tight end and didn’t bring anyone else in although there’s talk that Noah Palmer could be given a shot there at some point. Even if that doesn’t happen, remember that they took three tight ends last year (Charles Reeves, Tyler Sear, Grant Carrigan) and have Chris Clark returning so number-wise they appear to be fine.
**Due to the number of young players already on the defensive back depth chart, I have a hard time seeing any of the freshman defensive backs getting on the field in 2018. Of course, Williams is the one player that could prove me wrong and considering the amount of defensive backs Narduzzi uses, we could possibly see him as a freshman.
Pitt Returning Defensive Backs: Dane Jackson, Damar Hamlin, Phil Campbell, Therran Coleman, Bricen Garner, Jason Pinnock, Damarri Mathis and Paris Ford.
**Which freshman could see the field in 2018? Injuries and obviously performance during spring and fall camp could change this prediction but here’s who I feel has the best shot to get playing time as a freshman: Salahuddin, Town, Jacques-Louis, Danielson and Morgan.
**Another prediction: Although likely won’t see it for a couple of seasons, Pitt is adding three really good offensive lineman with Brown, Kradel and Zubovic.