The relationships forged between coach and athlete oftentimes transcend any preconceived notions about a school.
Former wide receivers coach Brennan Marion was a young, exciting option at Pitt, and he secured a couple of young, exciting options in Che Nwabuko and Addison Copeland. New wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Tiquan Underwood has only been on the job — officially — for a day, but he’s already showing his impact.
2023 four-star wide receiver Santana Fleming quote tweeted Underwood’s official Pitt announcement, congratulating Underwood and telling him “let’s do it!!!”
Aye man! Let’s do it!!! https://t.co/qrmDs8MoRR
— santana fleming (@6Takemdeep) February 5, 2022
Fleming, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound wide receiver from American Heritage High School in Florida, had already received an offer from Rutgers — and Pitt. He’s a big-time recruit, ranked as the 282nd recruit in the class of 2023, 38th wide receiver and 54th recruit from Florida.
His relationship with Underwood, which came about while Underwood served as wide receivers coach at Rutgers, provided a huge tie to Rutgers, and now that his position coach has moved on, it could be a whole new game.
Another top 2023 wide receiver that Underwood forged a connection with while at Rutgers is four-star wide receiver Hykeem Williams. Williams, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound receiver out of Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., is one of the top players at his position in 2023.
The wideout hovers just outside the top ten in Florida, which is a massive accomplishment on its own, as the 59th-ranked recruit in the class. He’s the 11th-ranked receiver and recruit from Florida in the class. And he does have an existing offer from Pitt. While he’d be a tough recruit to pull from Florida, Underwood has already built a relationship there.
In looking at Rutgers’ 2023 offers, a couple of names already stand out. With Underwood’s top areas being New Jersey, Virginia and Florida, there are a few wideouts with strong ties.
Three-star wide receiver Famah Toure has received offers from both Rutgers and Pitt. The 559th-ranked recruit in the class, slotting in as the 83rd-ranked wide receiver and 12th-ranked recruit from New Jersey hasn’t expressed any explicit preference.
Dallastown Area wide receiver Kenny Johnson is a three-star wide receiver from Pennsylvania who leans Penn State to this point, but he’s received a Rutgers offer. Bryson Rodgers is a four-star wide receiver from Wiregrass Ranch High School in Florida who has received offers from both Pitt and Rutgers.
Pitt has offered quite a few wide receivers from the class of 2023, including those offered by both Underwood and the previous staff, but Underwood’s official arrival at Pitt will now allow him to fully jump into the 2023 class — a class that’s expected to be one of the biggest and best during Pat Narduzzi’s tenure.
While at Rutgers, Underwood served as the primary recruiter for high three-star wide receiver Amarion Brown in 2022, a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder out of Florida who chose Rutgers over Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
He also served as the secondary recruiter for Florida three-star wide receiver Carnell Davis and Ohio three-star wide receiver Brayden Fox out of Ohio.
With three-star athlete Zion Fowler, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound star out of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey, providing the first recruit in Pitt’s 2023 class, the process will only heat up over the next couple of months, and Underwood will likely serve as a key figure.