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Opinion

Ludwig: It Would Be Criminal Not to See What Jordan Bass Has at Wide Receiver

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There’s a play on Jordan Bass’ Hudl tape that really stands out to me.

He’s lined up against a high school team from Virginia, likely from the Tidewater region, if I had to guess, but that’s not important.

The poor defensive back gives him about a six-, seven-yard cushion. It could’ve been 10 or 15, but even then, Bass would’ve just run by him. And you know what? Bass, as he’s galloping past this poor kid, waves his arm — in the middle of the route — to catch his quarterback’s eye.

It would’ve been tough to miss the 6-foot-4, 210-pound wideout waving his arm downfield since, you know, he’s the biggest kid on the field.

The quarterback steps up in the pocket and unloads. He puts his back into the throw, but it’s still a little short. Doesn’t matter. Bass is there to time the jump perfectly. I’d say the cornerback didn’t have a chance to outjump Bass, but he never really stood a chance upon lining up across from Bass.

It was just one of 30 touchdown receptions on the season. 30. And he scored 11 more.

Pitt recruited Bass — a high school wide receiver and safety — to play linebacker at the next level. And I get it. His size, speed and physicality — and pure football instincts — point to a player who would thrive in Pitt’s defensive scheme. But come on.

I can’t speak to the competitiveness of Class 3 of the Virginia High School League, but when you score a touchdown on every other catch, I think that’s pretty good.

And that’s doing a disservice to Bass actually. He caught 58 passes as a senior at Phoebus. He scored a touchdown on 30 of those catches. I’m no mathematician, but that appears to be more than every other catch.

If the Phoebus quarterback were to target Bass just twice, it’s a good bet he’d score.

To put it into context, on the way to a 15-0 VHSL championship, Bass hauled in 58 receptions for 1,530 yards (26.4 yards per reception) and 30 touchdowns. And as a defensive back, he added 10 interceptions — four of which he returned for touchdowns.

It must have sucked to be a 16-year-old in the VHSL Class 3 classification, knowing that Bass was lurking — can you lurk at 6-foot-4? — in anticipation of his next touchdown.

Okay, hold on. Seriously. Is this kid real? A 6-foot-4, 210-pound monster who is somehow best suited to play wide receiver, linebacker and safety all at once?

Bass, for his troubles, was the All-Tidewater Player of the Year, a MaxPreps All-Purpose All-American, first-team All-State wide receiver and defensive back and the Offensive Player of the Year.

And now he’s off to the next level. The only bad news here is that Bass will not be arriving at Pitt in January. He will come in as a mid-year guy in the spring.

But in the same breath that Pat Narduzzi used to announce that Bass would not enroll early, he said that Bass may be able to go out and help Pitt in the wide receivers room. And better yet, he said that Pitt’s coaching staff may pursue it.

And when a Twitter user asked Bass in December, ‘maybe play both ways next year?’ He replied, ‘You never know.’

Bass would likely be able to slot into all three of Pitt’s linebacker spots — Star, Mike and Money — as he enters the fold in the spring. But his physical makeup, and style of play, points toward Star linebacker. But. But… why not try to play both ways?

There’s a fine line to walk here. You don’t want to ruin Bass’ development and give him so much that he can’t learn one or the other, but still. If there’s a player to try both sides of the football, it’s Bass.

SirVocea Dennis is gone, which leaves a void in the linebacking corps, but it doesn’t exactly open a spot for Bass either. Bangally Kamara filled the Star linebacker spot last season, and he will likely do the same in 2023.

Pitt’s linebacking corps features Shayne Simon (maybe) and Brandon George at Mike, and Simon (again, maybe) and Solomon DeShields at Money. Bass would do well shadowing the unit in 2023, growing into the system as a future star.

But he’d also probably do well as a wide receiver, too.

Jared Wayne is gone. That’s a 1,000-yard loss. Pitt is looking to add to the room via the transfer portal, and Konata Mumpfield and Bub Means will look to take the next step in the offense. Pitt added four wide receivers in the class (Kenny Johnson, Lamar Seymore, Israel Polk and Zion Fowler), and all four have their pluses. Johnson and Seymore may even have quick-impact potential.

But none of them are 6-foot-4, 210-pound freak-of-natures like Bass. It would be ideal if he were to arrive in the next few days and spend the whole offseason in Pittsburgh, but that isn’t the case.

And even then it shouldn’t matter. Bass is the type of talent that should be cultivated carefully. If he can play both wide receiver and linebacker, that’s amazing. But he should be given the chance.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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