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Opinion

Vukovcan: Familiar Player That Pitt Coaches Should Try to Flip

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The next 23 days leading up to National Signing Day should be a rollercoaster with news of players signing but also changing their minds and de-committing from programs.

The de-commitments have already started and will no doubt continue because of the large amount of players that made their original decision early than ever and without having made an official visit or frankly not knowing a ton about the program.

COVID-19 has made things very challenging for players with them expected to make the biggest decision of their lives. Every team in the country is not only working to hold onto their commitments for the Class of 2021 but are also trying to change players mind and getting them to flip to their program.

With that in mind, here is a player that I think Pat Narduzzi and his staff, if they’re not already doing so, should be working overtime to try and get to change his mind.

Many different reasons could be named as to why Pitt has had trouble running the football over the last couple of seasons.

While running scheme, the offensive line and play commitment from the offensive coordinator to actually stick to the run could be listed, so can the type of back that Pitt has on their roster.

The Pitt offense has had trouble keeping drives alive and converting what should be very makeable 3rd and 1 or 2 along with executing in the red-zone.

One of the reasons for that is the type and size of backs they currently have or have had on their roster like Vincent Davis, V’Lique Carter, AJ Davis, Israel Abanikanda, etc. The Panthers running attack was at its best when they were pounding the ball with bigger backs such as James Conner and Quadree Ollison.

The current roster just doesn’t have a player like that or anyone that’s shown the ability to be that guy. I’m not suggesting that players with those other type backs aren’t important and aren’t need because they are but it needs to be a mix and right now Pitt doesn’t have that guy.

Pitt currently has 2021 commitments from two running backs- Malik Newton (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) and Rodney Hammond (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) but I believe they should be actively looking to add a third back that has the big build that I suggested.

The good news is that they type of player is in their backyard, but the bad news is that he’s already committed to another program.

Josh Hough just completed a tremendous season leading the Beaver Falls Tigers to WPIAL Class-2A Championship and is preparing to sign with Syracuse.

Hough made a decision to commit to Syracuse back in April and that occurred shortly after receiving an offer from Pitt. Some were surprised Hough didn’t give Pitt more of a chance but I’m told that was because the Pitt staff didn’t recruit Hough much prior to extending him the offer. Hough was impressed with the way the Syracuse staff recruited him and the long belief they showed him.

It can be argued that Hough was the most dominant player in the entire WPIAL this season as he rushed for 125 carries for 2,051 yards (16.4 yards/carry) and 29 touchdowns. The enticing aspect to Hough is his size (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) and the way he’s able to run over and by opponents. With that size, he’s obviously able to run over a defender but he’s also shown quick feet and the breakaway speed to sprint by them too.

Hough would be a perfect addition to the Pitt running back depth chart and has the skillset that they badly need.

Would Pitt have any chance of flipping him? I’m not sure but I believe it’s worth a try. I’m told that if Pitt tried to repair the relationship and make it known to him how much they want him, they’d have a shot. Not that this would be a factor but in speaking to him back in April, Josh’s father, Jason, told me that he has always been a life long Pitt fan and originally wanted his son to commit there.

Pat Narduzzi has had success this year landing West Mifflin’s Nahki Johnson, Central Catholic’s Elliot Donald, Baldwin’s Dorien Ford and Central Valley’s Stephon Hall and should be looking to add a fifth in Hough.

While it might be too late, the staff has 23 days to work on it, which would be smart because he’d be worth it.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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