When three-star tight end Trey Andersen committed to Pitt earlier this week, the Utah native gave the Panthers’ Class of 2021 players from nine different states.
Utah is also the 20th different state (plus Australia, Canada and Washington, D.C.) that Pitt has drawn a player from since head coach Pat Narduzzi arrived in 2015.
Of the 138 recruits that have committed to Pitt in that time span, the majority have come from familiar recruiting territories: Pennsylvania (34), Florida (28), Ohio (16), New Jersey (12) and Maryland (7).
Over the last few years, Narduzzi and his staff have pursued an expansion of that map, chasing talent in places like California, Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina and Texas.
In 2020, it seemed that started to pay off, as Pitt landed three Georgians (defensive backs Rashad Battle and Hunter Sellers and wide receiver Jaylen Barden) another player from South Carolina (safety Buddy Mack) and one from California (junior college tight end Daniel Moraga).
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down recruiting this spring, Narduzzi thought that the lack of available visits (on-campus recruiting is closed through at least Aug. 31) might mean that he would have to change his focus to be closer to home.
“Our recruits are going to have to do the same thing we’re doing: Change your strategy and adjust,” he said in early April.
But it turns out, that hasn’t really been the case. Of the 18 commits that currently make up the consensus No. 28 class in the country, many have come from new recruiting grounds for the Panthers.
None as much as Andersen, who is Pitt’s first Utah commit under Narduzzi, and was only the second player they’ve even offered from the state.
“The coaching staff is fantastic and did a great job of showing support through the recruiting process,” Andersen told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “Pitt is an elite school that has a big focus on their players skill level on the field and in the classroom.”
Pitt has expanded its map in other places in the middle of the pandemic, as well. Offensive linemen Brandon Honorable and Terrence Enos are Pitt’s first two recruits under Narduzzi from Michigan. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple went into Texas to land quarterback Nate Yarnell, just Pitt’s third Texan since 2015.
In Georgia, Archie Collins built off the three 2020 commits to add two more, giving Pitt five in two cycles after none in the first five under Narduzzi.
In Virginia, Chris Beatty has been the big story of the class, with four commits in 2021 after three total from 2015-20.
Narduzzi said that the 2021 WPIAL class is as good as he’s seen in this area, and Pitt has already landed four-star West Mifflin defensive end Nahki Johnson and three-star Central Valley safety Stephon Hall. Pitt is still heavily pursuing Central Catholic defensive lineman Elliot Donald, who said recently he may commit soon.
Adding Donald to Johnson and Hall would make quite a haul from the WPIAL. But recruiting in Pitt’s back yard during a pandemic is one thing. Expanding the map to places the Panthers haven’t been before is another.
Pitt’s overall ranking of 28 is a huge step up from 2020, when they finished No. 44. That ranking, and they way they’ve gone about it, with players from diverse and new-to-Pitt locations shows how Pitt’s recruiting has improved with additions to the coaching staff and patience under Narduzzi.