Pitt added 18 players on Wednesday in the December National Signing Period. The recruiting experts rank it as a Top 40 class and for the most part, they brought in a good, but not great class.
Kyi Wright, Davis Beville and Daniel Carter are exciting additions, and we’ll have to see how the staff develops and utilizes the other 15 players. Unlike some of the top-tier programs, the initial class isn’t one that will get the fan base excited.
However, there is still a second signing day in February and if the Pitt staff can get a couple of signatures that would really get Panther nation excited.
In my opinion, M.J. Devonshire and Brandon Mack are players they need to close the deal with.
Mack is a physical, disruptive, playmaker that might be the most talented defensive end that Narduzzi will have recruited to Pitt. Can Pitt get Mack to follow through with his original commitment and get a signature from him on Feb. 6? It’s not going to be easy, but landing top-end talent never is.
While Mack is important, Devonshire should be the main priority for Pat Narduzzi. Forget the four-star ranking that he has from recruiting services. That in itself doesn’t make him elite. Devonshire is a rare and special talent because unlike most players, he can impact the game in three ways: offense, defense and special teams.
He can be utilized in a team’s run game and is a threat to bust a big play anytime he touches the ball. As a cornerback, his ball skills are tremendous. As a punt returner for Aliquippa this year, he tied a national high school record for punt returns touchdowns in a single season. Devonshire is the quintessential playmaker. Pitt has to find a way to get him and no excuse will be good enough.
Despite making an extremely questionable decision to wait until late May to extend him an offer, Pitt still appears to be in a great spot for Devonshire. However, they appeared to be in the same position recently with two other WPIAL four-star recruits and fumbled the ball.
Most people were confident that Narduzzi had done a great job of recruiting both Beaver Falls defensive tackle Donovan Jeter and Aliquippa cornerback Kwantel Raines. We know how both of those situations turned out.
That can’t happen again with Devonshire. It’s hard enough for Pitt to get commitments from four-star players to begin with. But when those players are in Pitt’s backyard, it becomes that much more important for the Panthers to land them.
Aside from the importance of landing a talented player, it’s also an image thing for Pitt. Pitt’s recent history of getting local four or five-star players isn’t good. Out of Raines, Jeter, Miles Sanders, T.J. Banks, Andrew Kristofic, Phil Jurkovec, Josh Lugg, C.J. Thorpe, Lamont Wade and Paris Ford, that’s 1 for their last 10 and whatever reason or excuse they want to make, that’s just not good enough.
No one is expecting Pitt to keep a majority or even half of that list, but getting just 10 percent frankly stinks. They have to land elite talent regularly from places other than Florida.
Starting today, teams will revaluate their recruiting boards and new programs might try and get involved with Devonshire. I’m sure Narduzzi and his staff are expecting that. That being said, Narduzzi needs to “Lock The Gate” and get Devonshire to bring his skills to Oakland.