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What Does Duquesne Transfer LB Todd Hill Add to the Pitt Linebacking Corps?



I’ll admit I did a double take when Todd Hill told me that Pitt wanted him as a defensive lineman, in addition to linebacker. I mean, he’s 5-foot-10, 240 pounds.

He’s stout, for sure, but even for Pitt’s standards, he doesn’t have the height. So, as I listened, I knew what I wanted to ask. “Have you played d-line in the past? I mean, that’s a pretty big jump…”

“Yeah, well, outside linebacker.”


Oh. Well, that does make more sense. I’ll start by saying I like the addition of Hill to the linebacking corps, but I don’t know what to consider him at this point. He’s not a Mike or a Star, that’s for sure. And he’s not really a Money, but that’s where he’ll play.

If there’s a place for him right this second, once he rehabs fully from his pec injury, it’s as a situational pass rusher. If he comes out as the Star in the Delta package on a third-and-long, he’s fast enough and strong enough to create problems.

His size, of course, has already led to concerns. But he led the FCS last season in tackles for loss and was third in sacks, all with a torn pec, so I think he has the disruptive chops to make an impact at the FBS level.

I was a bit surprised that PFF has advanced stats readily available for FCS schools, but I wasn’t surprised to see that Hill was far and away the highest-rated player on Duquesne’s roster last season.

In 591 defensive snaps (294 run defense, 274 pass rush and 23 coverage snaps), he recorded an 88.9 defensive grade — which includes a 74.2 run defense grade, 91.8 pass rush grade and 65.7 coverage grade.

According to PFF, Hill racked up 54 pressures (35 more than the second most), 27 hurries and 13 quarterback hits. It makes sense considering he lined up on the line 547 times, almost exclusively as a pass rusher.

He was Duquesne’s best run-stopper as well, recording 28 run stops with just seven missed tackles (in 294 run defense snaps), but it was his pass rush that allowed him to arrive as a first-team All-NEC defender. He boasted a 20.5%-win percentage and 29.5%-win percentage in pressure situations.

Suffice to say, Hill was one of the very best pass rushers in the FCS last season. Easily.

And now he enters a Pitt linebacking corps in desperate need of depth. Hill offers some serious intrigue and depth, and considering he isn’t going to be the next Tylar Wiltz, that’s okay. Wiltz was successful in entirely different areas. But there shouldn’t be those immediate comparisons.

If Hill does one thing, and only one thing, as a pass rusher, he should be successful. If he can grow into a true Money linebacker, it will be a massive success.

So, where does Pitt’s linebacking corps stand right now?

Mike is pretty secure. With Shayne Simon and Brandon George, the middle is set. That’s a solid duo. The outside spots are more volatile. Bangally Kamara and Solomon DeShields are pretty locked in at Star and Money, respectively, but it’s been very thin behind them. As of the conclusion of the spring game, true freshman Braylan Lovelace and walk-on Nick Lapi filled the reserve roles.

So, that leaves Lovelace at Star (which is a good thing in the long run) and Lapi at Money (which, to be fair to Lapi, you shouldn’t have to rely on walk-ons). Yeah. The linebacking corps needs more. Hill offers more. He may not be a perfect fit in the system, a Wiltz, but he offers a very enviable skill. He can get after a quarterback.

Simon, Kamara and DeShields offer a strong base. George is a strong reserve. Lovelace has plenty of potential. Rasheem Biles will be arriving soon, and I fully expect Jordan Bass to force his way into the lineup as a true freshman.

Kyle Louis and Aydin Henningham are the only other linebackers on the roster and until noticed otherwise, it doesn’t appear that either will be utilized much in 2023.

Early Depth Chart

Star: Bangally Kamara — Braylan Lovelace/Jordan Bass

Mike: Shayne Simon — Brandon George

Money: Solomon DeShields — Todd Hill/Nick Lapi

As Wiltz told me a few weeks ago, it took him quite a while to adapt to Pitt’s defensive system. But once he did, he became a linebacker who wasn’t able to be taken off the field. It remains to be seen if Hill will make the same impact that Wiltz made, but their individual impacts could be comparable in very different ways.

Where Wiltz was a key Star linebacker, serving as that guy to drop back and serve as a third safety, Hill is the complete opposite. If there’s a linebacker to help Pitt push for another season in leading college football in sacks, it’s him.

Even if it takes a couple of weeks to truly learn a complex defensive playbook, Hill is the kind of big, physical linebacker to add to Pitt’s history of getting after the quarterback.

It remains to be what his true role in the linebacking corps will be going forward, whether he can grow into a true Money linebacker, but at the least, he should be able to add another edge rusher.

And I feel like despite an ‘undersized’ frame and lack of experience, Hill offers such an intriguing blend of speed and power — and familiarity with the current defense — that he should be able to feed off guys like Dayon Hayes, Nahki Johnson and Donovan McMillon.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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