Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi announced on Monday that wide receiver Michael Smith has taken a permanent injury exemption and will not be returning to the team.
Narduzzi, speaking during his press conference ahead of Pitt’s season opener against Austin Peay this Saturday, said that Smith suffered a lower back injury and was unable to completely recover from it during training camp.
Smith played sparsely in his first three seasons at Pitt. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2017, played in five games in 2018 and four games in 2019, mostly as a gunner on Pitt’s special teams units. He had one tackle in each season.
A native of Vero Beach, Florida, the 6-foot-1 Smith came to Pitt as a consensus three-star prospect in the Class of 2017, picking the Panthers over offers from UConn, Georgia Tech, Indiana, UMass and Notre Dame.
But he was never able to advance on Pitt’s depth chart during his first two seasons and was passed up for playing time by younger players such as Shocky Jacques-Louis and Jared Wayne.
Narduzzi said that Smith will remain enrolled at Pitt. A permanent injury exemption precludes him from returning to the Panthers’ roster at any point in the future, though he could transfer if he is able to return to playing condition.
With Smith’s departure from the rolls, Pitt is again at the 85-man scholarship limit entering the season. They had been one over after adding Maryland graduate transfer wide receiver DJ Turner during training camp.