PITTSBURGH — Pitt senior defensive tackle Amir Watts and head coach Pat Narduzzi have something in common. They are energized more than the average person.
Watts, from the South Side of Chicago, was a top 25-player in his home state of Illinois when he came to Pittsburgh in 2016. Narduzzi went to visit Watts at his home during his recruitment.
When Narduzzi was getting out of his car, Watts recalls saying: “Coach, you know where you’re at?”
Narduzzi replied, “You thought I was scared? Come on!”
Four years later, when Pitt hosts Boston College on Saturday for their last home game of the season, Watts will walk out of the tunnel at Heinz Field for the final time in a Panther uniform.
Watts and safety Damar Hamlin were two of the main guys that decided to play during their true freshman year in 2016. Watts appeared in seven games as a freshman and made one start – In Pitt’s 43-42 win against Clemson.
Watts’ growth as a player and person has been brought to the light more than ever in his final season at Pitt. The senior has raked in 22 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, and two sacks in Pitt’s first eleven games.
“Amir is someone that I couldn’t be prouder of, in terms of how he’s grown as a whole,” Pitt defensive line coach Charlie Partridge said. “Since the day I walked in the door (three years ago) to where he’s come now and just how he’s handled his life – I’m really proud of him.”
In a defensive line room that is filled with uber-talented guys, Watts’ personality brings everyone in the room together and strives to make the most of every day.
“I feel like I bring the most energy,” Watts said. “I come in here every day with a smile on my face.”
Pitt’s defensive unit as a while, and even more specifically, the defensive lineman have made significant strides over Watts’ time with the Panthers program.
“Me being a senior now, it’s crazy,” Watts said. “Now, it’s like we have the standard set (for what’s to come).”
Watts and the Pitt defense (who ranks No. 3 in the ACC in total defense) will have a unique challenge in the last regular-season game of the year against an ‘old school’ Boston College offense. The Eagles are led by AJ Dillon, who is the third-leading rusher in the country.
“You want these kinds of games and challenges,” Watts said. “I’m ready to go right now.”