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Inside the Hashes With Bob Lichtenfels: 2020 QB Recruiting, Vibe at UPMC, Too many RBs?



Over the last week or so, Pitt fans have been asking questions on Twitter regarding a few topics so PSN’s Bob Lichtenfels wanted to answer them in his first Pitt Football Q&A Mail Bag.

Does Narduzzi take a quarterback in this class?

In a recent article on PSN, we discussed the Pitt quarterback situation with the Class of 2020. A lot of college coaches try to bring in a quarterback in every recruiting class. We’ve seen various scenarios in college football where some will try and bring in multiple quarterbacks in the same cycle.

Multiple quarterbacks in a class rarely works out. These guys are often considered the stars and they’re used to having the ball in their hands and taking a backseat or biding your time is often humbling. Walt Harris ran into this situation with Tyler Palko, Luke Getsy and Joe Flacco. You had three guys who were all good enough to lead programs, but they were all on one team, something has to give.

With limited available scholarship numbers and Kenny Pickett sitting at the top of the depth chart along with touted youngster Davis Beville waiting in the wings the Panthers aren’t in crisis mode. Jeff George Jr. and Nick Patti will help bridge the gap. This is a gamble, as potential injuries or a transfer can change the landscape rather quickly.

What seriously changes the game now is the transfer portal as PSN’s Alan Saunders alluded to in an article last week. The number of quarterbacks transferring to and from Power five schools is staggering and Pitt has been a benefactor from this methodology as well. With transfers and attrition it allows schools to find stop gap measures when necessary.

I personally don’t expect Pitt to bring in a high school guy unless it’s one of their top choices or if someone they covet falls to them. To me this is better than taking someone just to take someone.

The vibe at down at UPMC

I’ve been around every coaching staff at Pitt since the Walt Harris era and when I say the vibe is just different allow me to explain myself. There are many moving parts to this whole equation and Pat Narduzzi is a big part, but he isn’t alone.

The forward thinking of Heather Lyke and the powers that be have had added a lot in her short tenure at Pitt not just in football, but the rebranding has been a huge deal. The new Pitt gear pops and it’s cool again which hasn’t been the case for a very long time. Kids and adults both like sporting the new apparel, no one was tripping over themselves to wear a Dinocat.

You see players walking around the summer camps wearing it and recruits like it, they want to be in that gear and as crazy as that may sound it matters the coaching staff obviously plays a huge role in recruiting with the relationships that they build with recruits and their families.

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Beatty when he was at West Virginia and I followed a lot of recruits that he was the lead on and I’ve never heard a bad word about him whether he landed a kid or not. He is tireless and gets it done. Charlie Partridge is as good as it gets in Florida and at times I don’t think folks realize how hard it is to get quality kids to leave the state and come north. He has established relationships with a ton of coaches down there and again, they all love him. Tim Salem, Andre Powell, Rob Harley, Archie Collins you can go on and it’s the same with all of them.

Tyler Bentley with Pat Narduzzi and Charlie Partridge — Courtesy of Tyler Bentley

During the Todd Graham era I can remember stories of staff members being asked not to come around to certain schools due to the way they recruited and that isn’t the case here. These guys are character guys and parents and kids feel at ease with them. Family is a huge part of the program and the staff keeps it real and you get that when speaking with them.

Aaron Donald is a huge asset and not only just in the financial sense which has been well documented, but he’s the best defensive player in the NFL. It absolutely matters having him on campus and having him around. He has helped make it cool for local kids to beat Pitt. When you see players such as Donald and Tyler Boyd shining and they’re from Pittsburgh and played at Pitt it makes recruits see that staying home could very well be beneficial to them.

How many running backs are too many?

I see a lot of fans on the Twittersphere talking about this a lot. How many running backs does Pitt need? On a running team, running backs take a beating for sure so you need able bodies. That is the obvious part, but let’s dig deeper into this and let’s not just consider these guys running backs and let’s just say athletes. There are backs who are pure backs and that’s what they do LeSean McCoy, Quadree Ollison and Darrin Hall just to name a few off of recent memory.

While getting acclimated in my new role here at PSN I’ve been watching film on a lot of these guys and being one of the most recent members of this Pitt class Israel Abanikanda his film was first. The Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln speed merchant stands out in a number of ways to me and one is on defense watching him fill the alley and explode through opposing ball carriers. Now, I’m not saying Abanikanda is destined for defense by saying that. He has difference making speed on offense and when he gets to the edge there aren’t many folks that are catching him. My point is that he is an athlete with speed to burn and if you’re going to compete against the big dogs of the college football world guys like him are needed on both sides of the ball.

Courtesy of Isreal Abanikanda

The old Miami teams were always loaded with guys like this that were physical and could run and they were all over the field and it was a highly successful strategy to employ. Not everyone always ends up playing the position that they were recruited for.

Speaking of Abraham Lincoln High School there has been a lot of mentioning of famous alumni who have come from the Brooklyn based school. My personal favorite was Harvey Keitel, yes Reservoir Dogs was one of my favorite films. Keeping it football related and during my time as a recruiting analyst the Railsplitters also had a pair of U.S. Army All-Americans that held Pitt offers in wide receiver Nyan Boateng and Defensive End Ishaq Williams. Defensive End Thomas Holley played in the Under Armour All-American game. Boateng had the Panthers in the mix for a considerable time but ultimately ended up choosing Florida. Williams pledged his services to Notre Dame. Holley was headed to Penn State and flipped to Florida after Larry Johnson took a job at Ohio State.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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4 years ago

Good report. Having followed the Panthers for years, the vibe thing sounds good. Good to think we have quality guys who are representing the University well. However there does come a time when you have to start winning 10 games or more per year, and win your BoWl Game ! It’s happened once with DW in the last 37 years. This team last year at times, looked like a Pop Warner team on offense trying to throw the ball.

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