After playing for Cincinnati, the Joker to Pitt Football’s Batman in the late 2000s, linebackers coach Ryan Manalac has joined the Panthers.
Manalac and head coach Pat Narduzzi have a long history together, as Narduzzi was the Bearcats defensive coordinator while Manalac was playing. After graduating, Manalac followed Narduzzi to Michigan State, where he found a role as a graduate assistant.
Manalac quickly emphasized his admiration for Narduzzi. “Having played for him, watching the way he prepared, the way he knew the scheme inside and out… [I] really love the way he worked,” Manalac said.
Manalac replaced Rob Harley, who served as Pitt’s linebackers coach since 2015 and recruiting coordinator since 2017.
Harley left for Arkansas State in December to become their defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, leaving big shoes for Manalac to fill.
Manalac cited Ohio and Atlanta as areas he has had success recruiting. Both Georgia and Ohio are perennial recruiting hotbeds, which will help to mitigate Harley’s departure.
The Panthers linebacking corps includes All-ACC sophomore Sirvocea Dennis, who burst onto the scene in 2020 with 14.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, as well as redshirt junior Cam Bright, (8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) who had a strong 2020 season as well. Manalac emphasized the importance of his veteran players.
“A lot of guys in that room, lot of older guys, guys that have played. We’re inheriting some super seniors… [it’s] exciting for me coming into that room, to be able to work with what they’ve already done,” Manalac said.
Manalac outlined his vision for the Panthers linebackers in his introductory press conference.
“Speed’s gonna be our calling card within our system here at linebacker, that won’t change… to see those guys move and watch them lift, the explosiveness, the speed they have, it’s an exciting group,” Manalac said.
As the game places an additional emphasis on athleticism and versatility, coaches and recruiters have to adjust. Pitt’s defense has shown continual improvement under the Narduzzi regime, and Manalac aims to continue that trend.
“An opportunity to coach at the highest level of college football is huge and exciting. Coming in here with an awesome defensive staff… [getting to] sit in a room with them and evaluate what we were able to do last year here is exciting for me,” Manalac said.