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Pitt FB Recruiting

Sometimes the Recruiting Process Can Work Out Better Than Anyone Expected



College recruiting is an almost impossible thing to master as nearly every program in the country can attest.

Players that are named four- and five-star recruits don’t always pan out, while lightly recruited two- and three-star players can go on to have great college careers.

In the end, it comes down to the coaches they end up with, the system they play in, other players on the roster and most importantly, the drive, work ethic and talent that the player possesses.

Here’s an example of a recruiting story that all Pitt fans will be familiar with.

Back in 2019, Pitt received a commitment from highly touted four-star running back Henry Parrish, Jr. from Miami, Florida. Everyone was excited because of the hype surrounding Parrish and the highlights he was producing week in and week out at Columbus High School.

Pitt landed a national recruit and had their next great running back.

That never materialized because Parrish ended up de-committing from Pitt and instead signing a Letter of Intent with Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss.

Courtesy of Henry Parrish

Fans were in an uproar and disappointed because Pitt couldn’t hold onto a big four-star recruit that everyone was excited about.

At the same time, the Pitt staff was also recruiting another running back that they were equally excited about and ended up getting a commitment from in June of 2019.

That player was Israel Abanikanda from Brooklyn, New York.

While Abanikanda didn’t have the national profile from the recruiting analysts that Parrish had, his skill level and potential was undeniable. The 2019 New York Player of the Year committed to Pitt over other offers from Boston College, California, Duke, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Looking back, it’s a good thing for Pitt that Parrish de-committed because there’s no guarantee of what would have happened with the development of Abanikanda.

At the time, Pitt fans were disappointed about losing Parrish, but fast forward to today and no one in the country would make that trade if given the opportunity.

Let’s look back at how the careers of Abanikanda and Parrish have played out to this point.

Abanikanda has taken over as Pitt’s No. 1 running back and made national headlines by breaking Tony Dorsett’s all-time record for rushing yards in a game. After initially signing with Ole Miss, Parrish transferred back home this off-season to play for Miami (Fla.).

Year-By-Year Totals For Parrish and Abanikanda:

Henry Parrish:
2020 — 56 carries for 263 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. 7 catches for 59 yards.
2021 — 105 carries for 553 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. 21 catches for 173 yards.
2022 — 78 carries for 378 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. 13 catches for 101 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns.

Israel Abanikanda:
2020 — 28 carries for 95 yards. 2 catches for 11 yards and 1 touchdown.
2021 — 123 carries for 651 yards and 7 touchdowns. 24 catches for 197 yards and 1 receiving touchdown.
2022 — 129 carries for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns. 4 catches for 59 yards and 1 receiving touchdown.

Career Totals For Parrish and Abanikanda:
Parrish: 239 carries for 1,194 yards, 4.9 yds/carry and 11 touchdowns.

Abanikanda: 280 carries for 1,576 yards, 5.6 yds/carry and 22 touchdowns.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

Reminds me of a player out of Penn Hills with two scholarship offers. He’s doing well in the NFL. Hope Izzy cashes in on that level.

1 year ago

It looks like both backs could have had success at Pittsburgh. They would have been a really good combination.

Or is Izzy only at pitt because of the decomit from parish?

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