Not too long ago, a player decommitting from Pitt would be a cause for concern and would inevitably lead to people questioning the program. But that’s not the case in 2021.
Times are changing at Pitt.
Late Wednesday night, talented 2022 3-star wide receiver Camden Brown announced on Twitter that he was opening up his recruitment and he was no longer committed to Pitt. Considering the visits he’s taken over the last month and his hosting of other coaches for in-home visits, this news came as a shock to almost no one. Brown says that he will continue to consider Pitt and could even host the staff next week at his home in Florida. But once a player decommits, it’s very rare that he makes the decision to give them a second commitment.
While this is unfortunate because Brown is obviously a talented playmaker, it’s hardly any reason for Pitt fans and their staff to be concerned.
The reason for that is the staff that Pat Narduzzi has assembled at Pitt. When I say staff, I mean both his coaching staff and his recruiting staff. This can’t be emphasized enough and it’s especially true in college, a head coach is only as good as the staff that’s surrounding him and Narduzzi has done a tremendous job of surrounding himself with some very talented people.
Because of this, when someone like Brown decommits, I finally have the faith that this group of coaches will go out and replace him with someone just as or even more talented. Even though it might not reflect it in the national individual player rankings, Narduzzi and company are able to identify players that fit their system and culture and then have shown the ability to develop them.
While I could name a number of examples of this, I’ll point out a great example of this in Gavin Bartholomew. The freshman tight end from Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania wasn’t heavily recruited and held only one Power 5 offer–which was from Pitt. In fact, he was committed to Buffalo before decommitting after receiving the offer from Tim Salem. The rest is history and Bartholomew has turned into a serious weapon this year and for years to come.
I have no doubt that if Pitt can’t get Brown to recommit, that they’ll replace him with another talented wide out, via the high school route or the transfer portal.
The big picture that Narduzzi and the administration at Pitt need to keep in mind is that to keep all of this going, they’re going to have to open the checkbook and might even have to make some hard decisions.
The past week in college football has been crazy with what has happened at Notre Dame, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida and USC. It’s only going to continue and Pitt needs to keep this in mind and be proactive. By this I’m referring to realizing the importance of this coaching and recruiting staff and for them to do whatever it takes to keep them together. I’m not sure when it’ll be but there will be a time when a Power Five program tries to pluck someone from this Panther staff.
Teams across the country see what’s happening at Pitt and will make an attempt to hire away one of Narduzzi’s talented assistants. I’ve said and written this many times but Charlie Partridge should be either a defensive coordinator or a head coach, Archie Collins is a star and will become a defensive coordinator soon, Cory Sanders will get a promotion from his current job as safeties coach and Brennan Marion has star written all over him and will soon be an offensive coordinator and possibly a head coach one day.
With what he’s accomplished this season, Narduzzi has a ton over leverage with the Pitt administration and needs to take advantage of it. A huge priority has to be taking care of his assistants in whatever way possible. This means either through raises or with promotions. If Pitt doesn’t make Marion the offensive coordinator, someone is likely to in the near future. The same goes with Collins and Partridge.
While this is a good problem to have because it means Pitt is enjoying success, it’s also not an easy one to deal with and hard decisions and choices will have to be made to ensure this all-star staff remains in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future.