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Former Pitt CB M.J. Devonshire Receives New NFL Jersey Number

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Pitt defensive back MJ Devonshire waves a towel before facing Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now.)

M.J. Devonshire has a new number. 26. He’s worn No. 12 over his last three seasons in Pittsburgh but will enter his NFL career as a brand-new man.

Devonshire — a 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback from Aliquippa, Pa. — was selected with the 229th pick (seventh round) in the NFL Draft by the Las Vegas Raiders. He’s a professional cornerback, and Pat Narduzzi is confident in his ability to adapt to the next level.

“M.J. is prepared for the NFL because we put him out there on an island his entire career,” Narduzzi said in a Pitt press release. “He knows how to handle that responsibility and pressure. There’s a reason M.J. had all those pick sixes at Pitt—he has excellent instincts, great hands and game-changing speed. He continues the great tradition of Pitt and Aliquippa defensive backs going to the league.”

Devonshire may have been the last Panther selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, but that didn’t damper his excitement for the NFL. His excitement was palpable.

“I hear it in your voice, man, come on,” Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce said over the phone.

Devonshire held a large draft party with his friends and family, which was attended by former Pitt and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker SirVocea Dennis, and he finally heard his name called on Day 3 — following former teammates Matt Goncalves (Indianapolis Colts) and Bub Means (New Orleans Saints).

Devonshire was one of the top Pitt prospects entering the 2023 season, following a standout season in 2022, and while he experienced his fair share of ups and downs, he showcased a blend of speed, playmaking and improved press coverage ability that appealed to NFL teams.

In his Pitt career, following his first two seasons at Kentucky, he finished with 83 tackles (51 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, eight interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and 21 pass breakups. He was an All-ACC punt returner in 2022. And he was also one of the most iconic — and impactful — defensive backs in recent memory.

He is just the latest Pitt defensive back to be drafted in recent seasons, joining the likes of Damar Hamlin, Dane Jackson, Damarri Mathis, Brandon Hill, Erick Hallett, Jason Pinnock, Jordan Whitehead and Avonte Maddox.

And he followed in the footsteps of his idols Ty Law and Darrelle Revis, who are both Pro Football Hall of Famers, to make it to the NFL out of Aliquippa.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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