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The Athletic Re-Ranks Pitt Football 2019 Class in the Top 10



Pitt Recruiting Class of 2019 is reranked in the The Athletic's top ten classes

The Athletic recently reranked the top football teams recruiting classes from 2019 and Pitt received an astounding ranking.

Writer Max Olson gave the Panthers the No. 9 class for 2019, which is much higher than recruiting sites originally gave for it. 247sports ranked Pitt at No. 54, rating no players in the class as a four-star, and one player a two-star. Rivals ranked them at No. 49, besides one four-star and two two-stars, ranking the rest of the class as three-stars.

Defensive lineman Calijah Kancey is the prize of the 2019 class. He came to Pitt undersized, around 6-foot-1, which led to just a 3-star rating and other schools choosing to not prioritize him.

Kancey finished the 2022 season with 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 total sacks in 11 games playing as an interior defensive lineman. He ranked fourth in the ACC with 1.32 tackles for loss per game and tied for fourth overall in total tackles for loss. Kancey also ranked seventh in the ACC with .68 sacks per game and tied for third in total sacks.

Calijah Kancey (8) September 26, 2020 David Hague/PSN

For his efforts, sportswriters across the country made Kancey a unanimous All-American, the first since former defensive lineman Aaron Donald in 2013. He also earned ACC Defensive Player of the year and made his second First-Team All-ACC in 2022. 

In his Pitt career, through three seasons, Kancey recorded 91 tackles (52 solo), 34.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rewarded Kancey, drafting him with the No. 19 overall pick in the First Round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Linebacker SirVocea Dennis is another player that schools chose to look over and definitely regretted it later on. Rated as a two-star, he originally committed to Air Force, but head coach Pat Narduzzi and staff convinced him to join Pitt, leading to a great collegiate career.

Dennis started for Pitt the last three seasons at middle or mike linebacker and led the team in tackles during that time with 57 in 2020, 87 in 2021 and 94 in 2022. He finished his four-year career as a Panther with 233 tackles, 36.0 tackles for loss, 15.0 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles as the mike linebacker. He earned Third-Team All-ACC honors in 2020, Second-Team All-ACC honors in 2021 and First-Team All-ACC honors in 2022.

Pittsburgh Panthers linebacker SirVocea Dennis (7) September 24, 2022 David Hague/PSN

He impressed scouts at Pitt’s Pro Day and the Buccaneers drafted him in the Fifth Round of the 2023 NFL Draft, keeping him and Kancey together next season.

Defensive back Brandon Hill also emerged as a leader for the Panthers at the safety position.

He racked up 172 tackles (91 solo), three tackles for loss, three interceptions, 12 pass breakups, three forced fumbles, two recoveries and two defensive touchdowns over his four seasons at Pitt.

Hill broke out as a star safety in 2021, earning All-ACC second-team honors for his efforts, racking up 71 tackles (38 solo), a tackle for loss, two interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a recovery.

Opposing quarterbacks chose to not throw his way as often in 2022 and the Houston Texans drafted him in the Seventh Round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

One player joining Hill in Houston is former Class of 2019 wide receiver Jared Wayne.

Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Jared Wayne (5) Sept 10, 2022 David Hague/PSN

Wayne played four seasons for the Panthers from 2019-22, making 146 catches for 2,308 yards in 41 career games. He led the Panthers with 60 receptions, 1,063 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in 2022. Wayne had his best game against Miami in the regular season finale, as he made 11 catches for 205 yards and grabbed three touchdowns, all career-highs.

No NFL team drafted Wayne, but the Texans did sign him as an undrafted free agent, keeping him with Hill for next season.

There are still players from the 2019 Class on Pitt’s roster right now. This includes offensive linemen in Matt Goncalves and Jason Collier, defensive linemen in Deandre Jules, Nate Temple and Bam Brima, running back Daniel Carter, linebacker Brandon George and defensive back A.J. Woods.

Pitt fans will remember this recruiting class for the foreseeable future. This core played a large role in winning the first ACC title in 2021 and earned back-to-back Top 25 finishes for the first time in 40 years. Expect to see the remaining players improve their game going into the upcoming season.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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