When Pat Narduzzi talked last week about the kind of linebackers he likes to recruit to Pitt, he brought up the kind of linebackers that were running backs in high school.
Nick Lapi, coincidentally, was a running back (and linebacker) at Northern Highlands High in Allendale, New Jersey himself. But he didn’t earn a scholarship to Pitt — at least right away. After two seasons at Pitt as a walk-on linebacker, Lapi was officially placed on scholarship this week, Narduzzi announced after Tuesday’s practice.
Lapi arrived at Pitt as a well-built 6-foot-2, 220-pound athlete, settling in as a linebacker and redshirting during the 2021 season. He didn’t see the field during his redshirt campaign, but he grew into a key special teamer last season.
He appeared in all 13 games last season, recording 250 special teams’ snaps (and a special teams tackle against North Carolina in late October), and he took seven defensive snaps at linebacker — including late against West Virginia.
Lapi impressed the coaching staff last offseason, especially throughout summer camp, and as he continued to flash the same work ethic on and off the field this offseason, it led to Narduzzi and the coaching staff awarding him a scholarship.
Rashad Battle felt it was a “well deserved” scholarship for Lapi.
Pitt tends to award scholarships to walk-on players each offseason right before the new season kicks off — usually right before the annual Football Kickoff Luncheon. Gavin Thomson was placed on scholarship last August and Chris Maloney the August before that.
Pitt’s linebacking corps has a set rotation when it comes to the starting unit, with Bangally Kamara at Star, Shayne Simon at Mike and Solomon DeShields very likely at Money, but Lapi’s larger frame and experience in the system points to him as a depth option at Mike and Money.
He will be competing with the likes of Brandon George, Kyle Louis and Rasheem Biles for playing time at Mike and Money this season. And he still has two seasons of eligibility remaining following the 2023 season.
It’s an amazing — and well deserved — opportunity for Lapi as he will no longer need to worry about paying for his education. And he will be eligible for Pitt’s team-wide Alliance 412 deal.