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Vukovcan: Pat Narduzzi Has Pitt Football Recruiting Rolling

Vukovcan: Pat Narduzzi Has Pitt Football Recruiting Rolling

Pat Narduzzi has been the lightning rod of criticism from a large number of Pitt fans following the disappointing end to the 2019 season which saw the Panthers lose their final two games and end up selected to play in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26 instead of a higher-profile game.

While that criticism and questioning of him might be legitimate, it’s causing something within the Pitt football program to get overlooked.

Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college program and right now, Narduzzi and his staff are doing that aspect of their job as well as it’s been done at Pitt in a long time.

Pitt has received criticism for its recruiting, in particular, for not being able to attract higher-ranked players. Fans wanted more four-star players and for Pitt to win recruiting battles over bigger-named programs. At least for this year, that’s not a criticism that the Panthers staff will be receiving.

Using the three major recruiting services, 247 Sports, ESPN and Rivals, seven of the 15 players in Pitt’s Class of 2020 are four-star players.

Perhaps more impressively, Pitt is that they’re getting these players spread out at different positions:

Offensive line: Branson Taylor (247)
Running back: Israel Abanikanda (247)
Wide receivers: Jordan Addison (ESPN, 247), Jaylon Barden (247)
Defensive line: Dayon Hayes (Rivals, 247)
Linebacker: Bangally Kamara (247)
Defensive back: Jahvante Royal (ESPN, Rivals)

The thing that has to be encouraging to Narduzzi is not only are they getting higher ranked players but they’re going up against and beating some quality teams to land them.

Here are some of the Power Five schools that at one point offered scholarships to these future Pitt Panthers:

Abanikanda- Boston College, Cal, Duke, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Addison- Maryland, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Barden- Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

Hayes- Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

Aydin Henningham- Auburn, Boston College, Florida, Illinois, Iowa State, Kentucky, LSU, Louisville, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, NC State, Nebraska, Ohio State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

Kamara– Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers and Syracuse.

Royal– Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, NC State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee and Virginia.

Taylor- West Virginia, Tennessee, Purdue, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan State, Maryland, Louisville, Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana and Syracuse.

Timothy Brown (three-star DT)– Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Ole Miss, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

AJ Roberts (3-star LB)– Boston College, Duke, LSU, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse.

Hunter Sellers (3-star CB)– Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Duke and Boston College.

Solomon Deshields (3-star Athlete)– Auburn, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, Oregon, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Michael Statham (3-star OT)- LSU, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Syracuse and West Virginia.

The point of that was to show doubters that Pitt is winning some recruiting battles to land this talent and we’re  already seeing signs that this isn’t a one-time thing.

Pitt has received two early commitments for the Class of 2021 and both are four-star players.

West Mifflin defensive end Nahki Johnson choose Pitt over early offers from Michigan, Mississippi State, Penn State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia while running back Rodney Hammonds selected Pitt over Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, TCU, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Credit Narduzzi for surrounding himself with some very talented recruiters and the recent additions of Chris Beatty and Archie Collins have taken Pitt recruiting to a new level for their program. If they’re able to keep those two along with Charlie Partridge in place, there’s no reason why this recruiting bonanza shouldn’t continue.

The next step though, and I’m sure Narduzzi realizes this is to be able to have this talent translate into more wins. The Pitt program needs to graduate from seven-win seasons because they’re no longer acceptable, nor should they be.

Considering the talent the staff is bringing in and the fact that starting next year, the non-conference schedule will be more manageable, Pitt needs to start winning nine games and become a program that’s ranked during and after the season.

It hasn’t happened to this point but I believe that this is something that Narduzzi will get done and as I’ve maintained, although I don’t always agree with everything he does, I believe that Narduzzi is a good coach and a good fit for the Pitt program.

Although it hasn’t happened maybe at the pace at which most wanted and expected, Pitt football is headed in the right direction. The facilities are in place, they’re in a good conference, talented assistants are on the staff and higher profile recruits are being brought in.

The next and final step is to take all of these positives and finally turn them into wins on game days. The question is will it start consistently happening in 2020?

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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jrnpitt
jrnpitt
8 months ago

Not likely if the same offense shows up next year that ended this season.

James from Florida
James from Florida
8 months ago

They need to win the bowl game to spring into the 2020 season and with at least 9 wins.

H2P

Joe
Joe
8 months ago

They need to make Whipple a QB coach and hire an OC that can implement both the run and pass game. May need a new offensive line coach as it shouldn’t take a whole year to teach run blocking

Richard Johnson
Richard Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Vukovcan

His play calling is questionable

Section 122
Section 122
8 months ago

Agree but …

Still haven’t had a real QB since 1982.

Eddie Futch
Eddie Futch
8 months ago
Reply to  Section 122

Alex Van Pelt and Tyler Palko were real quarterbacks. Marino was in a league of his own. John Congemi and Nathan Peterman were not so bad either

Richard Johnson
Richard Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  Eddie Futch

Palko was not that good

Cruzer
Cruzer
8 months ago

Certainly, this looks like Narduzzi’s best overall recruiting class since he’s been at Pitt. However, notable in it’s absense is the lack of a QB in this group. Kind of an important piece if you’re going to win consistently.

Tim Fehl
Tim Fehl
8 months ago
Reply to  Cruzer

You don’t have to have a QB every season. they have some talented one waiting behind Kenny already. I think Kenny will have a really strong senior season anyway.

Section 122
Section 122
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Fehl

If you can’t find one that can handle the job then you need to keep bringing them in. Hence, why we need to keep bringing them in.

Pat Adonizio
Pat Adonizio
7 months ago
Reply to  Section 122

The reason our QB situation is where it is goes back to bringing in transfers and not developing and showing loyalty to our recruits.

Richard Johnson
Richard Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Fehl

They said that last year

Joe
Joe
8 months ago

I remember when Pitt was beating out schools like Bowling Green and Temple (no disrespect) and Pitt fans were complaining, that we weren’t beating out good schools…well, no we are…I know its frustrating being a Pitt fan, but lets not start the cycle over AGAIN, lets give it a few more years…H2P!!

Terrence Otoole
Terrence Otoole
8 months ago

Mike what’s your feel on donald and ford for the 2021 class,I’d love to for pitt to land those 2 locals

Laura Martier
Laura Martier
8 months ago

I’m in disagreement. Yes they are recruiting better but overall they miss on the majority of the tough recruiting battles that go down the wire. Coming in 2nd isn’t good enough. You also take the most optimistic opinion of each recruit in terms of star ratings. Overall Pitt’s around 40 nationally and currently recruiting TE plan F and G on campus right now. Don’t forget the CUSA commit too. Add the fact the lost a top tier rb recruit at a time our backfield is desperately depleted if Carter had anything we would have seen him in atleast in 4… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 months ago
Reply to  Laura Martier

Please remember that a majority of NFL players are 3* or less recruits. I, too, like the flash of 4*’s, but there is very little difference between a 5.6 rating and a 5.8 rating. Saying that, I would love to see some competition for QB starter next year.

Terry Durko
Terry Durko
7 months ago

Running backs are a dime a dozen if you have the men up front. They need to improve the offensive line. If they get better, anyone can run through a hole and the QB gets time to look for an open receiver.

JLE
JLE
7 months ago

It seems like more kids are de-committing than committing.

Jason H Smith
Jason H Smith
7 months ago

Not true at all.. As of 12/14/2020 9:28 pm…

Service.. National Rank

24/7.. 38
(2) Addison, Hayes

Rivals.. 47
(2) Hayes, Royal

ESPN.. 40
(1) Royal

That’s “rolling”? come on..

Using ANY one of the three services gets you (2) at best. So, we’re going to use all three? The methodology used here is worse than the recruiting itself.

Jason H Smith
Jason H Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  Jason H Smith

Pitt’s class is 8th in the ACC. Yep. They’re really rolling..

Joseph Steigerwald
Admin
7 months ago
Reply to  Jason H Smith

You’re looking at the 247 composite and not the actual 247 ranks.

Joseph Steigerwald
Admin
7 months ago

Also the classes ahead of them other than FSU have wayyyy bigger classes. Obviously they’re not in Clemson, Miami or FSU’s class, but they’re pretty respectable. UNC and GT having strong classes for once doesn’t help.

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