As is often said, football is the ultimate team sport and that phrase will need to be applied at Pitt if they hope to achieve their preseason goal of repeating as ACC Coastal Division Champions.
It was a somber start to practice on Thursday as Pat Narduzzi announced that star defensive end Rashad Weaver tore his ACL and would miss the upcoming 2019 football season.
Although the defensive line might be the deepest position for Pitt this season, it’s never easy to replace the most talented player at that position.
“Next man up” is something that Narduzzi and his staff will be preaching to their players following this news. The question now is who will be the player (or players) that will be asked to move up on the depth chart to replace Weaver.
Junior Patrick Jones was the defensive end opposite Weaver and he’ll no doubt start the season as one of the starters but performance in camp will determine the other vacancy. Narduzzi not only will be looking for a new starter but has to find a player or two to join the Panthers 4-5 man defensive end rotation.
CANDIDATES TO REPLACE WEAVER:
Deslin Alexandre (6’4″, 265) redshirt sophomore, Pompano Beach, Florida: As things stand today, Alexandre is the early favorite to start opening night vs. Virginia. The redshirt sophomore played in 13 games last season as a reserve and is someone that Narduzzi has mentioned during his daily press briefings. Despite not playing football until his junior season, this long and athletic prospect was considered one of the Top 20 defensive ends in Florida during his senior season.
Habakkuk Baldonado (6’5″, 250) redshirt freshman, Rome, Italy/Clearwater, Florida: Baldonado is coming off an injury last season but is back to full-health and prior to Weaver’s injury, is a player that Narduzzi has praised on multiple occasions for his early work in camp. Baldonado has all the physical skills to be a productive player but lacks experience, which is something he’ll likely get this season.
John Morgan (6’2″, 255) redshirt freshman, Upper Marlboro, Maryland: Morgan was considered the top defensive end prospect in Maryland during his senior season. He has tremendous pass-rushing skills and has been running with the second team on Pitt’s defensive end depth chart. He has the frame and athleticism as former Pitt defensive end great Ejuan Price. Morgan is someone that could possibly challenge Alexandre for the starting job but at the very least, he’ll be one of the first players to replace Jones and Alexandre during substitutions.
Kaymar Mimes (6’5″, 245) redshirt freshman, Long Beach, New Jersey: Mimes returned to defensive end after working out with the tight end groupings for a large portion of the 2018 season. Coming out of Long Branch High School, Mimes was one of New Jersey’s top defensive ends, registering 87 tackles, 10 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries as a senior. Mimes has good blood lines as his brother Shilique Calhoun, who currently plays for the New England Patriots, was someone Narduzzi coached while at Michigan State.
Bam Brima/Bryce Nelms: both are true freshman and would have to show a lot during camp in order to make such as dramatic jump up the depth chart.
David Green (6’0″, 285): redshirt freshman, Central Catholic High School: This is just speculation but considering Pitt’s depth at defensive tackle, would Narduzzi and Charlie Partridge consider moving Green out to defensive end?
Devin Danielson (6’1″, 295): redshirt freshman, Thomas Jefferson High School: Ditto for Danielson, who’s another young player that’s gotten the attention of the Pitt staff early in camp.