While Dashawn Carter wasn’t able to watch Pitt’s practice at Heinz Field Saturday, as snow kept Pitt at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, he was able to get a look at Pitt’s defense — one player in particular.
Carter, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior defensive end from South Allegheny High School, found himself watching Dayon Hayes a bit Saturday. And as he’s familiar with the local Westinghouse graduate, he thought the budding star on Pitt’s defensive line looked primed for a starting role in 2022.
“It’s like, watching dudes from my area who play ball at the same place I’m playing ball at, against the same competition, rise to the competition at Pitt and earn starting jobs at Pitt,” Carter said to PSN. “It just looks and feels good. It lowkey inspires me.”
South Allegheny is about a 15 mile drive through Pittsburgh from Westinghouse, and with the familiarity Carter has for local kids staying in the area at Pitt, he’s gotten to watch Hayes develop into a star at Pitt. And Hayes isn’t alone as local kids have stayed home in the form of Aaron Donald, Damar Hamlin, Paris Ford, Jordan Whitehead, Tyler Boyd and more in recent season. It’s something not lost on Carter.
“It definitely is an influence, for sure,” Carter said. “It definitely makes me get excited for college and stuff like that, and it makes my recruitment more exciting.”
While Carter doesn’t yet have an offer from Pitt, his relationship with Pitt has never been better — with communication picking up over the last month or so.
“My relationship has been pretty good with Pitt, honestly lately,” Carter said. “It’s probably been at its highest lately, to be honest. The relationship I’ve made with the coaches, it’s either coach (Cory) Sanders or coach (Charlie) Partridge. Coach Sanders recruits my area, and coach Partridge is the d-line coach, so it’s good talks.”
With mail coming in on a near-daily basis and constant communication with Pitt’s coaches, mainly via texting, it’s been a good relationship so far. And while he wasn’t able to interact with the coaches too much Saturday, he got to meet with Chase Gallagher and Karlo Zovko.
“(Practice) was live,” Carter said. “They were competing at the highest, they obviously won the ACC last year. It was just highest because the goal for this year is to win the ACC again, and you can just tell honestly. And them losing Kenny Pickett to the draft and them finding their new quarterback, they look pretty good.”
While Carter’s time with Partridge wasn’t much Saturday, he texted with Pitt’s defensive line coach afterward. Partridge has said he loves Carter’s game, with his film exciting the veteran defensive line coach — whether that’s at defensive line, outside linebacker or down lineman. And Carter is hopeful of the opportunity to continue impressing Pitt’s staff.
In racking up 17 tackles for loss and 14 sacks at South Allegheny last season, while neither 247Sports nor Rivals has rated Carter, it should be only a matter of time. And that continued work ethic and production has him feeling hopeful for the future.
“I honestly feel like if I continue to work hard, if they want me to come to camp, I feel like I could go to camp and ball out and get that offer,” Carter said.
Carter attended Pitt’s games against Massachusetts and Clemson last season, and he’s hopeful to get back to Pitt for the Spring Game. He’s also made visits to Kent State and Toledo this spring, with visits to Penn State and Youngstown State in the cards in the future.