Pitt just made it out to Pinson High School to speak with Jaylen Mbakwe this past week, with tight ends coach Tim Salem’s making the first contact, and it ended with an offer for the elite 2024 four-star recruit.
Mbakwe (a 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback from Clay-Chalkville High School in Pinson, Alabama) added an offer from Pitt to a growing list that includes Alabama, Florida State, Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UAB, UCF, USC and Virginia Tech.
— Jaylen Mbakwe (@JayMbakwe) May 10, 2022
Salem’s visit to Clay-Chalkville was actually Pitt’s first contact with Mbakwe, and he said it was a nice initial conversation. Coach Salem seemed like a cool guy, and once the relationship gets started, he said it’ll be a great relationship.
“It was great, I mean, they watched my film and immediately liked me so, I felt special,” Mbakwe told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “He felt like I was the guy that could come change the program around, so yeah, it was special to get that offer.”
While Mbakwe isn’t exactly familiar, like most new recruits, he immediately found out that Pitt shares its practice facility with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, that — along with putting defensive backs into the NFL — isn’t the primary appeal in a school.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a big factor, but it is a factor,” Mbakwe said. “My biggest thing going into college is academics because I feel like wherever I go, I can go to the NFL easily.”
However, Mbakwe does feel like he’s the exact kind of cornerback that would be able to fit seamlessly into Pitt’s defensive structure.
“Oh, yeah, most definitely,” Mbakwe said. “I feel like I can cover anybody in the state, anybody in the nation and I can win that matchup easily. So, I feel comfortable going to Pitt playing press coverage every down.”
As a two-way star at Clay-Chalkville, helping to lead the Cougars to an undefeated 15-0 season capped by an Alabama Class-6A state championship, he racked up 11 tackles (10 solo), two interceptions and six passes defended. However, he also caught 36 passes for 677 yards (18.8 yards per reception) and nine touchdowns.
Mbakwe even added 497 return yards (330 punt return yards and 167 kick return yards) and another score.
With trips to Oklahoma, Auburn, Florida State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Louisville since last year, Mbakwe has already been active in appraising potential schools, and while he hasn’t looked too much into Pitt, it is on the horizon.
“I haven’t gotten to anything, but me and mom, every time I pick up an offer, we always research the school and see how it is,” Mbakwe said. “So, once me and my mom can sit down, we’ll most definitely start on Pitt.”
Mbakwe is looking at unofficial visits to Texas A&M and Tennessee, and he said there’s the possibility of an unofficial visit to Pitt this summer, but he isn’t sure when it would be at this point.
247Sports rates Mbakwe as the eighth-ranked recruit in the class of 2024 (the third-ranked cornerback and the first-ranked recruit from Alabama) while Rivals rates him as the 87th-ranked recruit in the class (14th-ranked athlete and the third-ranked recruit from Alabama).
Regardless, Mbakwe said that Pitt has made a great first impression, and it’ll be up to Pitt’s coaching staff now to continue to foster that bond.