Over the last few years, it’s come with a great deal of consternation for Pitt fans that the Panthers, under head coach Pat Narduzzi, have not gotten a high percentage of the top players from Western Pennsylvania.
Pitt hasn’t had the top local player in 247 Sports’ composite rankings since 2015, when Jordan Whitehead was the best recruit in the area.
Since then, they’ve come close twice, with Damar Hamlin following only Miles Sanders in 2016 and Paris Ford trailing Lamont Wade in 2017.
In the Classes of 2018 and 2019, Notre Dame has landed the top player, with Pine-Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec and tackle Andrew Kristofic picking the Irish.
It seems like those two trends may converge in 2020, as both Rivals and 247 consider Mars tackle and Notre Dame commit Robbie Carmody to be the top player in the region, with Westinghouse defensive end and Pitt commit Dayon Hayes coming in second.
It’s worth noting that PSN picked Hayes as the top recruit in the region in our 2020 Top Prospects list.
But regardless of that, there is one area of Western Pennsylvania recruiting where Pitt has cleaned up, and that’s the city of Pittsburgh.
Hayes will join Therran Coleman (Brashear) as City League alums on the Panthers in 2020, the only two District 8 alumni playing Power Five college football.
Pitt has also done well with the other school within the city limits: Central Catholic. The Panthers have four Vikings alumni on their current roster out of seven that are either playing or have committed to play for a Power Five team.
That makes a lot of sense, as Pitt as pushed the hometown hero angle when chasing after local recruits.
But not everyone has the same amount of love for the city, particularly recruits from farther-flung areas of the WPIAL. It’s worth noting that among the players that are truly in Pitt’s back yard, the Panthers have done a consistent job of closing the deal. That trend seems to have also continued.