After a breakout 2019 season, Pitt’s defense seemed to have the potential to carry that momentum into 2020 if it could minimize the number of offseason departures.
Wednesday, that mission was completed.
Pitt safety Damar Hamlin was granted a fifth season of eligibility by the NCAA after requesting a waiver and will return to Pitt for a redshirt senior year.
Hamlin joins free safety Paris Ford, defensive end Patrick Jones and defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, all of which looked into leaving early for the NFL Draft, but decided to return to Pitt.
Additionally, the Panthers will return defensive end Rashad Weaver and defensive tackle Keyshon Camp, who both missed all of the 2019 season with injuries after starting in 2018.
The result is an embarrassment of riches on the defensive side of the ball. Just take a look at an early look at Pitt’s 2020 depth chart:
That’s to make nothing of the contributions of non-starters. At defensive end, Deslin Alexandre started most of 2019 after Weaver went down and Habakkuk Baldonado and John Morgan developed into quality depth options.
The same goes for defensive tackles Devin Danielson and Tyler Bentley, who helped fill in for Camp. Safety Erick Hallett, cornerback Marquis Williams and linebacker Sirvocea Dennis all saw playing time in 2019 and should be expected to contribute some how in 2020. Talented freshmen like linebacker Leslie Smith, defensive tackle Calijah Kancey and safety Brandon Hill didn’t see much time but still project as contributors down the road.
If Pat Narduzzi and company can keep the amount of depth they’ve built up together, Pitt’s defense not only appears to be set for 2020, but for the future, as well.