It would be quite an understatement to say that this been an extremely emotional last few days for the Pitt Panther football program.
Things started on a high note on Thursday when Kenny Pickett was selected in the 1st Round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and made the highest drafted quarterback in the history of the Panther program.
The good news continued as Pat Narduzzi received a commitment from 2023 4-star quarterback Kenny Minchey from Hendersonville, Tennessee. Getting commitments from 4-star recruits are always important, especially when they come from the quarterback position.
That excitement was followed Friday night by the shocking report that 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison was making the decision to leave Pitt and take his talents to Southern California to play for Lincoln Riley. Controversy surrounds this news because of the widespread belief that Lincoln Riley and people associated with the Trojans football program tampered with Addison prior to him entering the NCAA Transfer Portal, which isn’t legal. Addison reportedly is set receive a sizeable amount of money to head to USC. It’s believed that the Pitt NIL team and people at Pitt reapproached Addison and greatly increased his NIL deal at Pitt, but all signs still point toward him rejecting it and leaving Pitt.
The fact that officials at Pitt were able to do this and Addison still decided to bolt can’t be going over well in the Panther locker room and no doubt some hard feelings have to exist.
Narduzzi’s “WEnotME” motto was put to the test again and a couple current players choose a different path than Addison.
Late Friday night, Pittsburgh Sports Now reported that a couple members of the current Pitt roster had opportunities to take their talents elsewhere and to receive an NIL opportunity. We believe those players were star junior defensive tackle Calijah Kancey and standout safety Brandon Hill, two important members of the Pitt defense.
Saturday night, those two players, while not giving a reason for doing so, just so happened to send out tweets that squashed any further rumors and re-affirmed their commitment to Narduzzi and their Pitt teammates.
— Calijah Kancey (@Ckancey8) April 30, 2022
— Brandon Hill (@brandonhill_6) May 1, 2022
Kancey was Pitt’s most productive and dominant defensive lineman in 2021 and will no doubt be on the radar of NFL teams for the 2023 NFL Draft. Kancey was named 1st-Team All-ACC and 3rd Team Associated Press All-American. In 14 starts, Kancey led Pitt with 13 tackles for loss and second with 7 sacks.
Hill moved into the Panthers starting defensive backfield last season and started 13 games at strong safety, making 81 tackles, six pass breakups, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Hill was named an All-ACC 2nd Team player and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist.
The expected departure of Addison is obviously news no one at Pitt wanted to hear, but to not have to deal with more losses and have players and team leaders the caliber Kancey and Hill pass on any temptation and stick to their original commitment is good news for the ACC Champions.