Pitt couldn’t absorb another loss if they wanted to keep their hopes of repeating as ACC Coastal Champions alive. So last night’s game was critical, to say the least.
Things started to look bleak when, prior to the game, it was announced that senior wide receiver and Kenny Pickett’s go-to guy Maurice Ffrench would miss the game with an undisclosed injury. The passing game has been inconsistent over the last month so this news meant that a young player needed to step up.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Sophomore wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis is someone that came to Pitt with a lot of expectations and last night he displayed that potential in a big-time way to a national audience watching on ESPN. The Florida native took Ffrench’s place in the lineup and had a career-high 104 yards on four catches and added another 20 yards rushing.
Jacques-Louis was a big get for Pitt in their Class of 2018 as he was rated as the No. 26 athlete in the entire country. Up until last night, the Florida speedster hadn’t been able to get consistent playing time mostly due to a nagging injury and learning a new offensive system.
The talent that Pitt fans have been hearing about since he signed with Pitt was finally displayed on a huge stage, at a time when the team needed him the most. Despite not having much of a role in the offense and not producing like he’d hope to prior to Thursday night, Jacques-Louis never complained about the situation or hinted at transferring — which seems to be the vogue thing to do in college sports these days. Instead, he kept working, remained coachable and when his name was called last night, he delivered in a big-time fashion.
Jacques-Louis brings a skillset that was absent from the wide receiver depth chart in that he’s a play-maker that runs precise routes, has reliable hands and he’s a legit deep-threat because he can flat out fly. While Ffrench, Taysir Mack, Aaron Mathews and Dontavious Butler-Jenkins might posses some of those qualities, none of them have all three, which is why Jacques-Louis has a chance to be special in this offense.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) November 15, 2019
The exciting thing for the future of Pitt’s offense is that the guys who were on the field for the majority of the evening last night meaning Jacques-Louis, Mack, Jared Wayne, A.J. Davis, V’Lique Carter and most importantly quarterback Kenny Pickett will all be back for next season. It’s also likely that the three wide receiver set of Jacques-Louis, Mack and Wayne will be your starters in 2020.
In my opinion, the talent at wide receiver is as bright as it’s been at years for Pitt. I compare it to what’s happened with the Panthers defense. When Pat Narduzzi arrived and considering his reputation on the defensive side of the ball, everyone expected the defense to immediately become a top 20 defense. Unfortunately, that’s not the way things work and he needed to stack up a few successful recruiting classes in order to add his type of players and the proper depth. A few years later, no one is complaining about the defense as it’s turned into one of the top units in the country.
I believe a similar thing is developing with the Pitt wide receiver depth chart as Pitt is in the process of stock-piling talent with Jacques-Louis, Wayne and with three big-time wide outs currently in their Class of 2020. Aydin Henningham, Jordan Addison and Jaylon Barden are all 4-star recruits and all have the potential to make an impact next season. Barden has a similar skillset of Jacques-Louis, Addison looks a lot like Mack and Henningham is someone that has star written all over him.
Being patient is sometimes tough as a fan but we’re starting to see some players that might be big parts of the Pitt offense for the next few seasons. If Narduzzi and his staff are able to stockpile talent on the offensive side of the ball like they’ve done defensively, it’s hard not to be real optimistic about the future of Pitt Panther football.