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Young Pitt Players Offer Reason For Optimism This Season and Beyond



Ty Dieffenbach.

Despite sending a number of players to the NFL over the handful of seasons, Pitt has sustained a level of excellence and performance that hasn’t slipped.

The main reason for that is the job the Pitt staff has done recruiting and developing the players they bring into the program. Pat Narduzzi’s expectation isn’t to rebuild. Instead, it’s about reloading and competing to win in the ACC.

That standard will continue in the future because the Panthers have brought in a lot of talented young players that will be competing for playing time in the very near future.

With just one week left in camp, Pittsburgh Sports Now has received some encouraging reports on young players who are catching the eye of the coaching staff.

PSN’s Karl Ludwig has done a terrific job informing you on the players that will be impacting the roster this year, including some young players, and here are some players that are still developing and likely a year or so away, but are opening some eyes to this point.

Possible standouts of the future for Pitt football.

  • Freshman wide receiver Zion Fowler-El: Fowler is in a position to have an impact this year as he’s competing with a number of players for playing time behind Bub Means, Konata Mumpfield and Daejon Reynolds. The native of New Jersey was a big offseason get for the Panthers and it appears to just be a matter of time before he makes his way into the rotation.
  • Freshman wide receiver Kenny Johnson: Before he officially signed with Pitt last year, Johnson developed into one of the leaders in Pitt’s class of 2023. Despite trying to get plucked by other programs, Johnson stuck with Pitt, which is turning into a very big deal. Johnson has repeatedly been mentioned by the Pitt staff and arguably has been one of the biggest storylines of camp. Johnson isn’t going to have to wait to get on the field, his time is now.
  • Freshman offensive lineman Ryan Carretta, BJ Williams and Tai Ray: While these Carretta and Ray in all likelihood won’t contribute this year, this is a great sign for the future. Although it takes longer for lineman to develop, Carretta and Ray have had excellent summer camps. And Williams — who arrived in the winter — is already repping with the 2s.
  • Freshman running back Montravius Lloyd: Pitt has tremendous depth at running back this season and barring injuries, Lloyd likely won’t have much of a role, but with what he’s shown this camp, he’s carving a spot out as Pitt’s RB No. 1 of the future. Lloyd was one of Pitt’s under-the-radar gets from Florida and aside from being a tremendous runner, he’s got great hands and is a threat out of the backfield.
  • Freshman defensive back Cruce Brookins: Despite being the last member of Pitt’s class of 2023, Brookins is one of the first names I keep hearing about as freshman camp standouts. Although Cory Sanders and Archie Collins have a lot of guys at safety, those players, despite being talented, are inexperienced. It would not shock me to see Brookins on the field at some point this season. Could turn out to be another great WPIAL get for Pitt.
  • Freshman linebackers Jordan Bass, Rasheem Biles and Braylan Lovelace: A year from now, we could be talking about how Pitt added three really good linebackers in this Class of 2023. While Bass is the headliner of the group, Biles and especially Lovelace are names to watch. Lovelace is already working at backup Star.
  • Freshman quarterback Ty Dieffenbach: This was the name that really caught my attention. I’ve had a number of people mention the play of Dieffenbach, which is very encouraging for Pitt. The situation that the freshman from California finds himself in is perfect because he’s in no rush to perform. With Phil Jurkovec and Christian Veilleux ahead of him seemingly for the next three years, Dieffenbach can develop at his own rate and take in the knowledge of the two veterans ahead of him.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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