If there’s one thing that’s certainly going to be the case moving forward in the new world of the transfer portal, it’s going to be that burning bridges and relationships can’t happen.
This goes for both sides, programs and players. If a team loses out on a player that they’ve recruited aggressively, it’ll be key to maintain a solid relationship with him. The same can be said in terms of the players behavior.
The team that you originally sign with isn’t necessarily the team you’ll be with two or three years from now. With the number of players in the transfer portal, the odds of a player sticking with his original commitment just aren’t that good.
Thursday night, Pat Narduzzi and Pitt got the news that a player they formerly recruited and in fact, were the first to offer a Division I scholarship too, announced he’s coming home.
Former Peters Township 4-star safety and Florida Gator Donovan McMillon made the decision to join his hometown school.
This addition will no doubt be popular with the Pitt fan base as McMillon was a high-profile recruit in the Class of 2021, having received offers from programs such as Georgia, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
After losing out on this Top 200 talent two years ago, Pitt fans and now the coaching staff will get to see McMillon perform in his backyard.
The scenario that played out with McMillon is starting to become a bit familiar as his commitment adds another name to a list of some recent WPIAL players that have made the decision to transfer to Pitt, after originally passing on them.
A few years ago, former Central Catholic 4-star linebacker Johnny Petrishen transferred from Penn State to Pitt and in 2021, enjoyed the best year of his collegiate career, collecting 71 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 3 interceptions. Another example is cornerback MJ Devonshire. The former Aliquippa 4-star cornerback signed with Kentucky and is now starring in Archie Collins’ secondary. Last season, Devonshire registered 31 tackles, two interceptions and was one of the best punt returners in the ACC.
Prior to the news with McMillon, Pitt started the offseason by bringing home former Pine-Richland 4-star quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who made the decision to leave Boston College. In his last season of collegiate eligibility, Jurkovec is hoping to not only improve his NFL stock but also help Pitt compete for another ACC championship.
As they try and achieve that goal, the Pitt Panther offense and defense is looking like it’s going to be filled with former WPIAL standouts, aside from just Jurkovec, Devonshire and McMillon.
Obviously, there’s a long time between now and training camp in the fall but look at the WPIAL influence with the top of Pitt’s depth chart.
Quarterback: Phil Jurkovec (Pine-Richland)
Center/Guard: Jake Kradel (Butler)
Guard: Blake Zubovic (Belle Vernon)
Defensive End: Nahki Johnson (West Mifflin)
Defensive End: Dayon Hayes (Westinghouse)
Defensive Tackle: Devin Danielson (Thomas Jefferson)
Defensive Tackle: Sean FitzSimmons
Defensive Tackle: David Greene (Central Catholic)
Defensive Tackle: Elliot Donald (Central Catholic)
Cornerback: MJ Devonshire (Aliquippa)
Safety: Donovan McMillon (Peters Township)
Safety: Stephon Hall (Central Valley)
If Narduzzi and Pitt get their way, McMillon and Jurkovec won’t be the only WPIAL stars added to the roster this off-season, as they look to possibly add former Gateway 4-star athlete Derrick Davis and Penn Hills 3-star wide receiver Dante Cephas, from the transfer portal.
Cephas would be a much-needed weapon for Frank Cignetti’s offense while Davis has the athleticism to player either side of the ball (linebacker, safety or running back).
Every year, Pitt fans clamor every for Western Pennsylvania players to stay home and play for Pitt. In a roundabout way, it looks like this year they’re really getting their wish.