The NFL was not always a likely destination for Pitt center Jimmy Morrissey.
Being a four-year starter for a major-conference college football didn’t exactly seem to be in the cards, either, but that’s what Morrissey will be as he enters his redshirt senior season with the Panthers.
Morrissey came to Pitt as a walk-on out of LaSalle College High School near Philadelphia, but after just one season, the Pitt staff realized they had a hidden gem on their hands. Morrissey won a battle for the vacant starting center job — and a scholarship — as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
Since then, he’s started 39 games, has twice been an All-ACC selection, taking home first-team honors after the 2019 season, and will look to build on that with his final season at Pitt in 2020.
After that, it’s hardly a stretch to suggest that an NFL future could be in the cards for Morrissey. On Thursday, Athlon Sports named him as one of the Top 25 2021 NFL Draft prospects to watch in the ACC, alongside teammates Paris Ford, Patrick Jones II and Jaylen Twyman.
Not only that, Athlon said that Morrissey could go in the first three rounds when his draft day comes up next April.
“Early projections have the Pitt center going in one of the first three rounds of next year’s draft, which is understandable after a first-team All-ACC performance last fall,” Jon Kinne wrote for Athlon. “Morrissey injured his foot at the end of 2018 but showed no ill effects in ’19, proving to be one of the best linemen in the league.”
While Morrissey has had a strong run as Pitt’s starting center, the line around him struggled in 2019, as Pitt’s rushing average dropped from 5.6 to 3.5 yards per carry. But four of the five starters will return, and be boosted by the addition of graduate transfer Keldrick Wilson. With individual statistics tough to come by for offensive linemen, Morrissey leading his unit to an overall improvement might be the single biggest way to boost his draft stock.