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Pitt FB Recruiting

Pat Narduzzi’s Full Recap of Pitt’s Class of 2022 Signees



It wasn’t Pitt’s biggest recruiting class ever, just 12 signees for the 2022 Early Signing Period, but the head coach Pat Narduzzi secured every hard commit and added two surprises throughout the day.

Pitt landed a “super quality class,” Narduzzi said, with signees from nine states and one other country. With a balanced group of offensive, defensive and even a special teamer, Pitt announced the class Wednesday.

And here’s what Narduzzi had to say about each new Pitt Panther.

Sean FitzSimmons — three-star DL from Central Valley High School in Monaca, Pennsylvania

First one is Sean FitzSimmons, defensive lineman. 6’3″, 290-pound defensive tackle from Monaca, Pennsylvania, Central Valley High School. He is coming in mid-year, so he will be here for classes that start on Jan. 10. He will probably check into Bridges on the 9. All these guys will do that. All year, every home game he was there. He is our newest season ticketholder. He had a great year. Obviously, won a championship, back-to-back state championships. He is also a recipient of the Bill Fralic Memorial Award for the top lineman in the WPIAL. He is our one Pennsylvania guy. It seems like in the last couple of years Western Pennsylvania has been a hotbed for defensive linemen, so I know Coach Partridge is fired up to work with Sean.”

Jimmy Scott — three-star DL from St. Francis High School in Cheektowaga, New York

The next one on defense is Jimmy Scott, defensive lineman, defensive end, 6-foot-2, about 250 pounds, from Cheektowaga, New York, St. Francis High School up there. A private high school. Super kid. He plays running back and defensive end for them, and obviously, he is going to be a defensive end for us. Very athletic, tough guy. Fits in the mold of what we want out of one of our defensive linemen. They run a regional championship up there. Was able to fly up there and see him and another prospect up in the Buffalo area last Monday. … We’re happy to have Jimmy on our football team.”

Samuel Okunlola — four-star defensive end from Thayer Academy in Brockton, Massachusetts

The next defensive lineman, Sammy Okunlola. Again, another defensive end, 6-foot-4 225 from Brockton, Massachusetts. Thayer Academy. He is another mid-year. The second mid-year I’ve talked about today. Obviously, it was a battle until the end with him, and our staff did an outstanding job. Again, led by Tim Salem and Charlie Partridge on that one. Again, just a super, super smart kid. I won’t explain how smart he is, but if he is out there listening, he knows why he is so smart. I’ll throw that one out there. He was the only guy that visited during the season, and so we only had one guy visit during the season. It was just based on his schedule. We brought him in for that. A super athletic defensive end that we’re excited to have in our program and getting him as a late guy.”

Marquan Pope — three-star linebacker from Guyer High School in Denton, Texas

Also defensively, Marquan Pope, a linebacker, 6’2″197 pounds from Denton, Texas, Guyer High School. Plays safety for them. He is a very athletic guy. He will be an outside linebacker for us. Probably a star prospect. We’re anxious to see him get there. He is a field general. He makes all the calls. Talking to the coaches, and I know Coach Manalac has been down there a couple of times to see him. They play for the state championship this weekend against West Lake. He is originally from North Dakota, and the thing I really love about this guy, at least coming to this point is he wants to be a coach in the future, so he is thinking about coaching. To have a linebacker be a guy that commits and also wants to be a coach, I think that’s a guy that we’re going to love to coach on defense because the more coaches we have on the field playing for us, the better. Marquan Pope, a linebacker.”

Kyle Louis — three-star linebacker from East Orange Campus High School in East Orange, New Jersey

Next one is a kid named Kyle Louis, linebacker, 5-foot-11, 206 pounds. He was just here this weekend. That’s an official weight, John. He is from East Orange, New Jersey, East Orange Campus High School. We had him in camp last summer. It wasn’t a big camp. I’m not sure if you guys were there that day. … He was kind of an individual, almost a one-on-one camp that we had in the indoor. I think it was passing camp, if my memory serves me right. We loved everything about him in the summer. He was committed somewhere else at that point. We worked hard on getting him. We were trying to get his parents back. He came by himself. He is also a track guy. He can run. He was a guy that thought about coming mid-year, but a guy that wants to compete in his senior year in track. We’re looking forward to getting out in the spring and being able to watch him run as well. Very athletic guy, like Marquan. We’re excited to have him here. Again, in high school he played receiver, he played safety, he played linebacker, he played all over the place. He was a return man on punts and kickoff. We saw him live in person in the indoor, and we love what we see out of him.”

Ryland Gandy — three-star cornerback from Buford High School in Buford, Georgia

The only defensive back in the class, Ryland Gandy, a 6-foot-0, 170-pound corner from Buford, Georgia, Buford High School. Just won his third state championship in a row, and if you have ever been down to (Buford), you would know what kind of football that is. It’s big-time football. Was at his practice, I want to say last Thursday night, which was their final practice before the state championship, so it’s fun to kind of see the final details and preparation for his championship, and see that he was going to put another ring on his finger. … He is a long, athletic corner like we like. He is a guy that is going to be able to fit into exactly what we like to do there. Came on a summer visit with the family and just had a great time, and then he also came up for are a Clemson game. We’re excited to have Ryland in this class.”

Addison Copeland — three-star wide receiver from Maritime High School in Buffalo, New York

The first one on offense is Addison Copeland, wide receiver, 6-foot-2, 175-pound young man from Maritime High School up in Buffalo, New York area. Again, Addison will be here mid-year. It will be great since we lose four senior wideouts to have him in. We expect him to come in and play for us, but he committed to us and then came to camp. He was summer visit, came to summer camp, and did an outstanding job. It was like, wow, from every drill he did out there, this kid is going to be a special wideout for us, and it’s always fun to watch those guys live, but he did everything for his high school team. He is an indoor and outdoor track guy. Again, mom and dad there just very supportive of him. I believe he may have been committed when he came on his visit or this far away from being committed to a school out east, further east from here. We’re happy to have him in, and, again, another part of that visit up to the Buffalo area on Monday. Just visited him and the family up there.”

Che Nwabuko — three-star wide receiver from Manor High School in Austin, Texas

The next receiver that we have in the class, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound wideout speedster from Austin, Texas, Manor High School, Che Nwabuko. He is an outstanding athlete. Played running back, played wide receiver, return guy for them. He has been timed in the 100 at a 10.4-, 10.5-second 100 meter. A guy that can do everything. His speed is what stands out on film. A guy that’s been committed since the summer visit. We’ve had him on campus a couple of times. Came up for a game as well. Again, just a guy that’s going to add a lot of speed, whether he is lined up in the backfield, running the football, obviously a wide receiver, which we’re in need of. We’re happy to have him here.”

Isaiah Montgomery — three-star offensive tackle from Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia

On the power front, offensive line Isaiah Montgomery, six-foot-four, 290-pound probably offensive tackle from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Landstown High School. Again, great family. Just a super kid. He is long. He is athletic. He is going to keep getting bigger. He has been here, again, multiple times. I think he came down for our Duke game as well, on the road. Again, coach Borbely has worked hard on the offensive linemen, and he has done an outstanding job. Excited to get him for a home visit, so I have not been at his home yet, and he will be a guy that will come with us for summer term two.”

Ryan Baer — four-star offensive tackle from North High School in Eastlake, Ohio

The next guy, Ryan Baer, six-foot-six, 335 pounds. I think it’s actually from his weight this weekend. 338 pounds from Eastlake. After he had breakfast on Sunday, he might be 345. From North High School. Again, Ryan will be a mid-year enrollee as well. We’re excited about that. Again, probably one of the most interesting guys he visited in the summer, but we couldn’t get an official visit out of him. Again, our staff did an outstanding job of getting him on campus, so he might be the only guy that we’ve ever recruited that took, I guess, four official visits. He was saving a fifth one. Canceled Notre Dame and then unofficially visited Pitt. We had him for about as long as you would have for an official visit but just turned unofficial into an official visit. Beat a lot of people on this young man. Excited that he is with us. Got a great family. His dad, Russ, was a 5 a.m., 5:30 a.m. conversation about every day in the morning for about a half-hour, and just some great conversations there. We appreciate mom and dad’s support there. Again, visited officially, so he had an unofficial visit, which they have to pay for all their meals, and you can’t do everything you would like to do, and then he came this past weekend and had a great time and got his official visit, which was his fifth official visit of the year, so we’re excited to have him.”

Jordaan Bailey — three-star running back from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida

We got a really, really athletic running back from Hillsborough High School down in Tampa, Florida, 5-foot-10, 185-pound Jordaan Bailey. Just an explosive guy. We offered him. We loved him. We went down and to a few camps this summer. We saw him live in Florida’s camp, University of Florida’s camp and just loved him there. He actually worked out at wideout. For a running back to have ball skills like a wideout and running routes like a wideout, he was impressive there. Another one of those guys that you love to see live and in person, and we were able to do that and then meet his mom down there as well. Plays running back and receiver for his high school team. Kind of decommitted a little bit a couple of weeks ago, but we got him back, which does not happen very often when a kid breaks away, but his high school coach, big help, and just a great personality, great kid, and spent a lot of time in his high school last week trying to get him back in the Pitt mindset. We appreciate him signing with us today.”

Sam Vander Haar — two-star punter from Prokick Australia in Australia

Then the last and final guy is specialist Sam Vander Haar, 6 foot-0, 180-pound punter who will be here mid-year from Australia. Again, we lost one Australian punter. We got another one. He works with Prokick over in Australia. Have not met him. I’ve had Facetimes with him, and he is a 24-year-old, so we got the oldest punter — or maybe one of the oldest punters in college football. We certainly got probably — I think he is going to beat out Tre Tipton for the oldest player on our team. By the time he leaves he will be 28 years old, if he stays four years, Jerry. That’s pretty good.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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9 months ago

Great summary, thanks!

Let's Believe
Let's Believe
9 months ago

How did they win 11 games including the ACC and drop down to 64 in the recruiting rankings a year after having a top 25 class?

9 months ago
Reply to  Let's Believe

Recruiting is a 2 year marathon. By the time Pitt won the ACC these kids were already committed. Hopefully next year we will see a positive impact from the ACC Championship.

9 months ago

A couple solid gets but this recruit class is still ranked near the bottom of the ACC.

9 months ago
Reply to  Chris

With the Covid extra year, would you rather have Owen Drexel for another year or a recruit. Factor in all the kids with a Covid extra year and we’ll be good.


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