Pat Narduzzi and Pitt football are coming off the heels of an unprecedented weekend, reeling in an eye-popping 10 verbal commits.
The weekend opened in style with the commitment of Traivs Koontz, the nation’s top-ranked junior college tight end. He’s the second tight end recruit to commit to Pitt this month, joining Arkansas graduate transfer Will Gragg, who is eligible to play immediately.
Koontz is rated a three-star prospect according to 247Sports and chose the Panthers over LSU, Maryland, and Louisville, among others. The Youngstown, Ohio, native will have two seasons of eligibility to play at Pitt.
Koontz played at Los Angeles Pierce College last year and is currently enrolled at Ventura College, where he’ll suit up for former Pitt offensive coordinator Steve Mooshagian (1997-98) next season. PSN caught up with Mooshagian Monday night to get his thoughts on Koontz’ potential.
“He texted me right away and said he loved it,” Mooshagian said of Koontz. “It’s 45 minutes from home, he’s thinking about committing, he’s thinks it’s the right place for him. He just said, ‘I loved it.’ Loved the area, loved the campus, loved the coaches. It was just 100 percent positive.”
Koontz is the second Ventura player under Mooshagian to commit to the Panthers; current Pitt quarterback Ricky Town played for the Pirates last season. With several connections to the program, Mooshagian felt comfortable selling Koontz on Narduzzi and his staff.
“It would be a good fit offensively with what they do,” Mooshagian said of Koontz’ role. “Shawn Watson has talked to me a couple times about the utilization of the tight end and how important that is.”
“It’s a win-win situation. I think it’s going to be a great fit for Travis.”
Mooshagian praised Koontz for his versatility as a pass-catching threat. In spring ball, he worked with Koontz to further develop his route running and frequently had the tight end line up in the H-back position or as an inside receiver.
“He’s able to do all those things at a high-performance level,” Mooshagian said. “That’s what you’re hoping to look for because you can adjust your offense around him and the things he can do.”
Koontz has NFL measurables, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 262 pounds and combines that large frame with strong mitts.
“He catches the ball very well with his hands,” Mooshagian said. “He leverages the football—he’s a big body in front of it. He’s 262 pounds but he looks like he’s 240. His body looks like a big wide receiver.”
Mooshagian added Koontz will “be plenty fast enough for the ACC” and possesses the physicality to block against some of the nation’s top defensive lineman.
Koontz wrestled in high school and was originally slated to compete at heavyweight but cut weight to compete in the 225-pound class, typically a more athletic category. Mooshagian added when you watch film of Koontz blocking you see the finishing techniques often showcased on the mat.
“He’s a finisher,” Mooshagian said. “You can see the wrestling comes out when he finishes his blocks and takes people to the ground. He finishes them, that’s the best way to describe him.”
Mooshagian’s coaching career spans more than three decades and even included a four-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals (1999-2002), where he coached All-Pro performers Chad OchoCinco and TJ Houshmenzadeh. His evaluation of Koontz will surely excite Pitt fans.
“He’s by far the most gifted tight end I’ve been around,” Mooshagian said. “Just where he is and all the things he can do at his age is kind of scary what his potential and ceiling can be.”