Every college program’s goal is to sign top level talent in an attempt to win a championship.
Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt Panthers have done a better job of that which resulted in their first ACC Football Championship last season.
The first step in getting a commitment from elite talent is to find a way to get them on your campus and to let them see and experience your program in person. It’s one thing to tell a player about what you have to offer but it’s another to actually witness it. Credit the Pitt staff as they were able to get a number of four-star recruits to come make unofficial visits, including one of the top defensive ends in the country.
Desmond Umeozulu is a 2023 four-star defensive end from Flowers High School in Springdale, Maryland. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound pass rushing specialist is rated by Rivals as the No. 174 overall junior and 247 Sports has him at No. 134. Both ranking sites rate him as one of the Top 10 defensive ends in the country. In terms of offers, Umeozulu has received one from nearly every major program in the country- Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Penn State, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, USC, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
To get Umeozulu on campus is a major coup for Pitt but after talking with him, this was no courtesy visit, and it sounds like the Panthers are a legitimate contender for Umeozulu.
“The visit to Pitt was definitely something different,” said Umeozulu. “I really didn’t expect what I got from Pitt. I hung out with some of the players, and we chopped it up. They were really good to me and gave me a really good tour around. It was definitely different in a good way.
“Pitt was just a real family structured program. Coach Narduzzi reminds me so much of my high school coach with his values and everything. Like church, religion, when you believe in something you have to advocate for it, little stuff like that.”
With it being his first trip to Pittsburgh, I asked Umeozulu to tell me one thing that surprised him or impressed him about something he learned about the Pitt program.
“Probably Coach P (Partridge), he’s definitely a lot better coach then I thought or knew that he was. I now can see how their scheme and how they rush the passer so well and why they’re in the Top Five for sacks almost every year. The way Coach P goes into detail during practice and he’s such a hands-on coach. He goes into team meetings and shows you exactly what you did wrong and will show you how to do it right. That really stood out and impressed me.”
Every visit that Umeozulu makes he realizes that he’s going to be a high priority for that particular program and certainly left his visit to Pitt feeling that way.
“Not so much at the beginning of the visit, probably because it was so early, like 8 AM in the morning and they had to focus on their practice,” said Umeozulu. “But once we started to breakdown into the actual visit part of the day, it felt it. Coach Narduzzi was really breaking down the program to me and I felt like he definitely spotlighted me a little bit. After the photo shoot, I sat down in his office and talked for a while. We were trying to set up some possible official visit dates.
“The whole staff, especially Coach Powell, Coach Partridge and Coach Narduzzi treated me well. I felt like I was at home. Coach Powell has been on me for a while now. He was on me early and I think Pitt was the third program to offer me and they have recruited me hard ever since. I definitely think after this weekend that they’re one of my top schools.”
Upcoming visits for Umeozulu include North Carolina (this Friday) and then to Texas and Georgia. Following these trips, he plans on “breaking down” his list of offers and then start taking his official visits.