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Five Pitt Panthers Signed Undrafted Free Agent Deals

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Marcus Minor

A highly successful NFL Draft has come and gone for Pitt football, but it isn’t limited just to the draftees.

Five former Panthers signed either priority free agent deals or accepted minicamp invites. Jared Wayne signed with the Houston Texans, Habakkuk Baldonado signed with the New York Giants, Gabe Houy signed with the Chicago Bears and Deslin Alexandre signed with the New York Jets.

Additionally, as the Tribune Review’s Jerry DiPaola reported, Marcus Minor accepted an invite to the Baltimore Ravens’ minicamp.

Jared Wayne — Houston Texans

The 2023 NFL Draft was over for just a few minutes when it was announced that Jared Wayne signed a priority free agent deal with the Houston Texans.

The 6-foot-3 Canadian will look to turn a strong summer into a roster opportunity.

In four seasons at Pitt, he recorded 146 receptions for 2,308 yards (15.8 yards per reception) and 13 touchdowns, while also going 2-of-4 for 36 yards with a touchdown and an interception through the air.

He racked up a career-high 60 receptions for 1,063 yards (17.7 yards per reception) and six touchdowns — often serving as Pitt’s sole threat through the air.

“My body of work speaks for itself,” Wayne said at Pro Day. “I put up the numbers, 1,000-yard receiver. I’ve showed that I’m versatile, can play inside and outside. I show off good hands, yards after the catch, explosives.

“It speaks for itself, so I’m very confident in the player I am ad know the player that I am, so at the end of the day, if my name’s called, that’s a huge bonus. If not, we’re still working, nothing changes.”

Deslin Alexandre — New York Jets

The Collegiate Man of the Year is joining Israel Abanikanda and Carter Warren with the New York Jets.

Deslin Alexandre has been a leader, a team captain in 2021 and 2022, on and off the field at Pitt, and while his charitable efforts and volunteer work has been lauded, his work on the field has led to a free agent signing with the Jets.

In five seasons at Pitt, Alexandre has compiled 131 tackles (59 solo), 29.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, an interception, seven pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

As a super-senior captain in 2022, he racked up 29 tackles (13 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two pass breakups and forced a safety in a win over Duke.

It’s an incredible honor for Alexandre, who has shown a level of dedication on and off the football field for Pitt during his entire time in Pittsburgh. And he acknowledged late last year that it wouldn’t be possible without the help he’s received.

“For everyone, even Marcus Minor’s mom has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes helping people get out, so I’m thankful for that,” Alexandre said in November. “I’m thankful to all of you guys for helping to get the story out, Ms. Celeste (Walsh) helping me get this together, everyone who has had a hand in it, who donated. If you hear this, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for allowing me to help people, thank you to them for helping people also, it takes us all.”

Gabe Houy — Chicago Bears

It wasn’t at all the sixth season Gabe Houy wanted to have at Pitt, as he missed most of the season due to injury, but he is getting a chance at the next level.

Houy signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears, providing a camp body and receiving the chance to carve out a role as a depth tackle.

Houy — a 6-foot-6, 310-pound tackle — played in 48 games during his six seasons at Pitt, recording 32 starts during that time.

His standout season came during the ACC title-winning season in 2021, starting nine games at right tackle and three at right guard, as he paved the way for Kenny Pickett’s record-setting season.

Habakkuk Baldonado — New York Giants

The biggest surprise of the draft, when it comes to Pitt, is that Habakkuk Baldonado wasn’t drafted. I thought he would go as early as the fifth round even.

Instead, Baldonado will have yet another chip on his shoulder as he pursues his NFL dream. He will have a chance to make an impact with the New York Giants, signing as a priority free agent.

“I can do it all,” Baldonado said at the NFL Combine. “I just wanted to showcase what I was able to do, and I think the coaches were happy about what I did. Some of them were surprised, I wasn’t surprised because it’s what I’ve been doing for the last five years.”

He recorded 25 tackles (nine solo), five tackles for loss, two sacks and two pass breakups last season. And Pat Narduzzi felt like while Baldonado’s stats didn’t flash, NFL scouts saw exactly the kind of impact he’d be able to make at the next level.

In what amounts to about three seasons at Pitt, Baldonado recorded 99 tackles (48 solo), 21.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, a forced fumble and two recoveries and two pass breakups. He was an All-ACC performer in 2021, one of the best edge defenders in the conference.

Baldonado has a lot of potential to unlock still, and I think if any of Pitt’s undrafted free agents are able to make an impact, it will be him.

Marcus Minor — Baltimore Ravens minicamp

Marcus Minor was my under-the-radar winner of Pitt’s Pro Day last month, and he’s turned it into an NFL opportunity.

Minor will camp with the Baltimore Ravens as he looks to carve out an interior depth position in Baltimore.

He spent four seasons in Maryland before transferring to Pitt ahead of the 2021 season, and over the past two seasons, he’s played (and started) in 26 of 27 possible games at left guard.

He measured well. He’s got good size at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds. He has long arms, and a long wingspan by extension (literally), and he tested well all day. And he repped out an impressive 31 reps on the bench.

Minor was a respected leader at Pitt, especially in the offensive line room, and he’ll look to carry that forward.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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kevin
kevin
1 year ago

Wayne, and a few others should’ve come back for another year. Not sure who is giving them NFL advice to leave early…
H2P!!!

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