Cal Adomitis was one of the most successful walk-ons in Pitt history, named as an All-American and winner of the inaugural Mannelly Award for college football’s best long snapper, so there is a recent history of why walk-ons matter.
Aside from the fact that walk-on players compete for the love of the game and the hopes of earning a scholarship with exemplary play on the practice field, walk-ons are an integral part of any college football team. Underrated in all aspects.
Pitt has walk-ons at a few positions who will certainly make a big impact upon the 2023 season — and one or two may even earn scholarships before the 2023 season kicks off.
So, let’s take a look at Pitt’s current batch of walk-on players.
Defensive Back (3)
John Glenn — 5-foot-11, 195-pound freshman from Woodward Academy in Decatur, Georgia
Dante Caputo — 5-foot-11, 190-pound redshirt senior from North Allegheny High in Wexford, Pennsylvania
Matthew Amofa — 5-foot-10, 180-pound redshirt freshman from Hillsborough High in Hillsborough, New Jersey
Defensive Line (3)
Zach Zollers — 6-foot-3, 215-pound freshman from Spring-Ford High in Royersford, Pennsylvania
Will King IV — 6-foot-4, 275-pound redshirt junior from Holland Christian in Holland, Michigan
Thomas Aden — 6-foot-1, 280-pound redshirt freshman from St. Edward High in Lakewood, Ohio
Luke DelGaudio — 6-foot-2, 220-pound redshirt junior from Dallas High in Shavertown, Pennsylvania
Drew Foster — 6-foot-2, 220-pound redshirt freshman from Hyde Park Baptist in Austin, Texas
Abe Ibrahim — 6-foot-1, 220-pound redshirt freshman from Chartiers Valley High in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
Dylan Bennett — 6-foot-3, 235-pound redshirt sophomore from Montoursville High in Montoursville, Pennsylvania
Nick Lapi — 6-foot-2, 220-pound redshirt sophomore linebacker from Northern Highlands High in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
Special Teams (7)
Byron Floyd — 6-foot-1, 245-pound redshirt junior from Mentor High in Mentor, Ohio
James Fineran — 6-foot-5, 235-pound redshirt sophomore long snapper from Calvert Hall College High in Towson, Maryland
Brock Wilkins — 6-foot-1, 225-pound redshirt freshman long snapper from Kiski Area High in Blairsville, Pennsylvania
Cam Guess — 5-foot-11, 200-pound redshirt junior punter from Belle Vernon Area High in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania
Caleb Junko — 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt sophomore from Hudson High in Akron, Ohio
Samuel Carpenter — 5-foot-10, 160-pound freshman kicker from Foxborough High in Foxborough, Massachusetts
Franco Fernandez-Enjo — 5-foot-10, 160-pound freshman kicker from Glenbrook South High in Glenview, Illinois
Offensive Line (5)
Brody Riffe — 6-foot-8, 300-pound freshman from West Orange High in Winter Garden, Florida
Graysen Riffe — 6-foot-8, 300-pound freshman from West Orange High in Winter Garden, Florida
Matt Altsman — 6-foot, 285-pound redshirt junior from Pittsburgh Central Catholic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
George French II — 6-foot-8, 315-pound redshirt junior from Bethlehem Catholic in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Matt Metrosky — 6-foot-1, 290-pound redshirt sophomore from Greensburg Central Catholic in Greensburg, Pennsylvania
David Lynch — 6-foot-3, 215-pound freshman from Bishop Hendricken High in East Greenwich, Rhode Island
Jake Frantl — 6-foot, 205-pound redshirt sophomore from Hartford Union High in Erin, Wisconsin
Running Back (1)
Caleb Williams — 5-foot-11, 210-pound freshman from Montour High in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Tight End (3)
Adam Howanitz — 6-foot-4, 230-pound freshman from Valley View High in Archbald, Pennsylvania
Josh Altsman — 6-foot-3, 245-pound redshirt freshman from Pittsburgh Central Catholic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Trevor Faulkner — 6-foot-4, 245-pound redshirt sophomore from Avonworth High in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Wide Receiver (8)
Josh Junko — 6-foot-1, 195-pound redshirt senior from Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in Akron, Ohio
Devin Whitlock — 5-foot-10, 165-pound freshman from Belle Vernon Area High in Monessen, Pennsylvania
Peter Vardzel — 6-foot, 175-pound redshirt sophomore from Wando High in Charleston, South Carolina
Caden Smith — 6-foot-4, 185-pound redshirt sophomore from Franklin Regional High in Murraysville, Pennsylvania
Lorenzo Jenkins — 6-foot-3, 185-pound redshirt freshman from Blackhawk High in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
Thaddeus Shaw — 6-foot-2, 180-pound freshman from Central York High in York, Pennsylvania
Benny Hasselrig — 5-foot-11, 175-pound freshman from Hampton High in Allison Park, Pennsylvania
Jake McConnachie — 6-foot-5, 205-pound redshirt junior from Verona High in Verona, New Jersey
That’s a lot of walk-ons. That’s 37 walk-on players that will compete just as hard as their teammates on scholarship each and every week this coming season.
And it’s a good bet that there will be at least one walk-on player placed on scholarship before the season begins. Over the last three years, Johnny Petrishen, Jake Zilinskas, Chris Maloney and Gavin Thomson have been placed on scholarship just before the start of the season.
So, I’m going to look at the current walk-ons at this point in time who have a good chance of being placed on scholarship in the near future.
The coaching staff likes Jake McConnachie — perhaps even more so than some of the scholarship wide receivers on the roster. He’s someone who has been around the team for a while, put his time in and impressed the coaching staff throughout the spring.
His path is similar to the one carved out by Thomson — before he transferred to UNLV.
Byron Floyd did well in his first season as Pitt’s long snapper, serving as a steady hand under center and even recovering a muffed punt last season. His predecessor Cal Adomitis took time to earn his scholarship, so it appears that Floyd is once again following in those footsteps.
Thomas Aden doesn’t draw a lot of attention, but he’s mentioned by his teammates more than one would expect for a walk-on lineman from IMG’s post-prep team. It likely won’t come this season, but he’s the sort of walk-on to keep an eye on going forward.
And if there’s any walk-on who is in place to earn a scholarship, it’s Nick Lapi.
Lapi was one of just two walk-ons to receive defensive snaps last season, seven, to be fair, but as it stands, he’s slated to receive legitimate rotational work as a Mike or Money linebacker in the defense. He’s earned the trust of the coaching staff and performed when called upon.