A majority of walk-on players that have joined Pitt are from Pennsylvania or a neighboring state, however, that’s not the case with every player.
Pat Narduzzi added a PWO on Wednesday from the state of Georgia and he’s someone with an intriguing skillset.
2021 cornerback Ak’Bar Shabazz II from Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia is the newest member of Pitt’s Class of 2021. Shabazz was recruited to Pitt by Archie Collins and decided on Pitt over a scholarship offer from Florida International and a PWO opportunity from in-state Georgia State.
Before starting school this morning, Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with Shabazz about his decision to join Pitt and what exactly intrigued him about this offer.
“I’ve been talking with and developing a relationship with Coach Collins since the end of my football season, starting in November,” Shabazz told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “Since then, everything has been good and he’s kept in touch and communicating with me. In the end, I just felt that Pitt was the best fit. Our communication was a big part of this along with him telling me how Pitt is one of the best football and academic schools out there, plus the facilities they have.”
“I just feel that going up North and playing at the highest level is best for me. The distance was a factor and something that I really had to think about because it’s a different climate up there. Up north, it’s kind of cold and I’m used to things being heated up. It’s going to be tough being so far away from my family but I feel it will be good and I’m getting support from my family.”
The pipeline that’s been created by Pitt from Georgia to Pittsburgh is something that Shabazz is aware of and found it to be reassuring that he’d be surrounded by a handful of players from Georgia like Rashad Battle, Hunter Sellers, Jaylon Barden Preston Lavant and Khalil Anderson.
“I know of some of those players and know Khalil Anderson and that really sold me on Pitt,” said Shabazz. “Plus, the pipeline that Pitt has built to Georgia which shows players from the South are comfortable going to Pitt and doing well there.”
“Coach Collins has been a straight forward guy with me throughout this process and makes sure you know that the decisions that you’re making are and will be really helpful for you and the way things will benefit you. He’s been really helpful and is a very truthful person, in my opinion”
Shabazz is a player that Collins is no doubt looking forward to working with because of on the field skills. He’s a big cornerback (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) that is physically strong along with being physical on the field. Shabazz played 7A football in Georgia, which is the highest classification, and finished the season with more tackles (63) than receiving yards allowed to opposing wide receivers. In fact, receivers that he covered only caught three passes all season.
“I believe my strengths are that I’m a tall, long corner and have a wide spread on the field,” said Shabazz. “Plus, some defensive backs struggle with tackling and don’t like to do it but that’s one of my biggest strengths. I’ve become a good tackler because I started out playing linebacker which has helped me a lot.
Played 7A football in Georgia w/ two playoff games. Finished the season with more tackles than receiving yards allowed. Gave up THREE catches. 63tkls, 8PD, 5TFL, 2FR, INT, FF #LOCKDOWN #bigcorner @BALLERSCHOICE1 @Millz2BeMade @PitViperSports @therealkwat https://t.co/YN7k0VInc4
— Ak'Bar Shabazz II (@deuce_55) December 15, 2020
Shabazz tells Pittsburgh Sports Now that he’s never been to Pittsburgh but is planning to make his first visit next weekend with his family in order to experience the city and visit the campus.