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Can Pitt’s Wide Receiving Corps Still Challenge for Best in College Football?

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You can cover a lot of losses throughout college football by either adding from the transfer portal or promoting internal pieces, but Jordan Addison’s loss is truly one that cannot — and will not — be replaced.

The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner was supposed to lead Pitt’s offense — the wide receivers especially — into the new era of Pitt football. With Kenny Pickett off to the NFL, Addison was the great bridge. He was somehow the most talented receiver in college football, a future first round draft pick and the quiet lead-by-example presence in Pitt’s offense.

Now he’s gone.

Regardless of Addison leaving Pitt, the wide receiving corps wasn’t challenging for a spot among the best in the nation solely because of Addison. Of course, the loss of the Biletnikoff Award winner hurts, but it now provides an opportunity to players who previously wouldn’t have been looked upon to contribute.

Again, Addison’s loss cannot be overstated. It will be impossible to replace the best wide receiver in college football, but Pitt has a strong group of wide receivers who will be able to work toward negating the loss — and there are some very, very talented wide receivers in Pitt’s system.

Pitt added Akron transfer Konata Mumpfield, a freshman All-American, into a wide receiving corps that featured Addison, Jared Wayne, Jaylon Barden, Jaden Bradley and added Addison Copeland and Che Nwabuko in the 2022 recruiting class. Pitt added Bub Means from Louisiana Tech a week ago, and while he’d be a major fit now, his status remains up in the air as a second time transfer.

So, Pitt has a major hole in the offense. Let’s take a look at my pre-spring game roster projections at wide receiver.

Jared Wayne

As one of the most underrated players in the ACC, Jared Wayne is a big (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), sure-handed target, and he wants to play stronger and faster in 2022 as he continues to build a solid NFL Draft case. He is Pitt’s top outside receiving threat.

And with Addison out of the picture, he’s primed for a much, much bigger role. If Wayne wanted to showcase his NFL chops, the time is now.

Jared Wayne (5) during the ACC Championship Game – December 4, 2021 David Hague/PSN

Konata Mumpfield

Konata Mumpfield plays a lot like Addison. Except he’s a bit bigger and a bit younger. Coming off a freshman All-American season at Akron, Mumpfield has been an impressive player this spring. He lined up out wide at Akron, but he could see a lot of work from inside at Pitt. Regardless, he’s going to play a lot.

I wrote that Mumpfield played a lot like Addison before the spring game, and he should be the biggest beneficiary of Addison’s exit. He’s perhaps Target No. 1 now. The sky is the limit for Mumpfield without Addison in the system.

Jaylon Barden 

Another electric slot receiver, Jaylon Barden’s third season at Pitt will feature solid playing time if he’s able to stay healthy. He’s one of the fastest players on the team, at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, and he should shine as a reserve slot and star punt returner.

And now it’s Barden’s time to shine. With Addison game, Mumpfield and Barden take a step forward inside. Barden’s speed will need to be a factor as he takes the next step — and Pitt will now require it.

Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Jaylon Barden (10) April 9, 2022 David Hague/PSN

Jaden Bradley 

Candidate No. 1 for a breakout at wide receiver this year, here’s Jaden Bradley. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound wideout is going to play outside with Wayne on the other side and Addison and Mumpfield inside. With a bigger frame, increased speed and the desire to improve “everything” as a sophomore, Bradley could put up some big numbers in 2022.

Candidate No. 1 for a breakout prior to Addison’s exit, Bradley may not still hold that role, but he should hold an even bigger role in Pitt’s offense.

Jaden Bradley (81) – November 11, 2021 David Hague/PSN

Addison Copeland

Early enrollee Addison Copeland III has been up and down through the spring, still adjusting to the speed of the college game, but he’s a big body (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) who impressed coaches immensely before he even stepped foot on campus. His development through the summer will be interesting to follow.

Che Nwabuko

The fastest man on the team. Che Nwabuko, who is finishing up his senior season at Manor High School in Texas, has already set a personal best 10.23 100-meter dash time. He’s blessed with near Olympic-level speeds, and his integration into Pitt’s offense — and the track & field team — will be a true X-factor in 2022 and beyond.

Myles Alston 

An early enrollee last season, Myles Alston didn’t see the field in 2021 behind a strong wide receiving corps. It’s still a loaded wide receivers room, so while Alston may not play much in 2022, he’ll continue to grow within the room.

What’s the Big Picture?

With a depth chart of Wayne and Bradley outside and Mumpfield and Barden inside, with Copeland, Nwabuko and Alston providing depth, it’s still a strong unit. Mumpfield is truly primed for a breakout season, and Wayne can prove to himself and the NFL that he wasn’t a product of Pitt’s offense.

There’s a lot of talent in the receiving room, tons of speed, route running and versatility, but it will be tough to replace Addison. That’s a simple truth. I feel good about Pitt’s inside and outside options, especially with Gavin Bartholomew at tight end, and Pitt now has a few scholarships to work with. If there’s a player that fits a need, it can work.

If Pitt feels Wayne, Mumpfield, Barden and Bradley are a solid Top 4, I can’t disagree. I like the mixture of talent across the board, and if Means is able to actually play in 2022, he’ll provide another outside deep-threat, with speed for days. His addition now would be a major boon.

New wide receivers coach Tiquan Underwood has done everything right so far at Pitt, but he will have the task of navigating this difficult loss. And it appears that Underwood is the perfect man for the job in leading Pitt’s wide receiving corps forward.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Gary O'Shell
Gary O'Shell
5 months ago

Addison will be a huge loss, but I feel Pitt still has the weapons to be a high powered offense, effectively running the ball, and having a stable of quality, even potential big time stars receivers.

Krackerjack Kid
Krackerjack Kid
5 months ago

The simple answer is YES.

But a lot will depend on who QB1 is and if he can sling it to them.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
5 months ago

I’m sure Ohio State, Alabama and a few others will scoff at that but they can still be very good. The key is if they get solid quarterback play. The year Pickett had last year was magical and I don’t think will ever be duplicated. We have been spoiled for years and this year will see just how much he meant. We also need a running game to open up the pass and that thought is frightening.

Dukes

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