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Pat Narduzzi Identifies Strongest Pitt Panther, Pound for Pound

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Pitt running back Desmond Reid.

Desmond Reid is listed at 175 pounds. He isn’t the biggest running back out there; he’s the smallest Pitt running back. But that’s never held him back.

Reid — a 5-foot-8, 175-pound running back from Western Carolina — is taking up the mantle vacated by Marquis Williams. According to Pat Narduzzi, Reid is the strongest player on the football team, pound for pound. I mean, he is blocking 225-pound linebackers on a regular basis.

“Desmond Reid will take over as that toughest guy pound for pound, I believe,” Narduzzi told ACC PM on Friday. “He’ll block Brandon George coming through an A gap, he’ll block a defensive end in gap protection and he can run. So, we got to keep him healthy. He’s a guy who can be a game changer as far as if he hits a hole, he’s got the ability to take it to the house.”

Reid has earned a lot of praise since arriving in January. From the coaching staff, from his teammates, from just about everyone. He’s determined to show he plays bigger than he looks.

“I’ve been hearing that since I was young,” Reid said in February. “I like to work when nobody else is working. I don’t even like to let people see me working, so I’ll keep that in my head. That’s what pushes me to be a better player and person.”

Reid wanted to go Power Four out of high school, as all recruits do, but his height and weight held him back a bit. He had some offers, nothing major, so he put his trust in Kade Bell at Western Carolina.

Reid was originally a lowly-recruited three-star out of Miramar High School in 2022, and he selected Western Carolina over South Dakota, FAMU, FAU and Tusculum. In two seasons at WCU, he racked up 250 carries for 1,723 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns — adding 42 receptions for 495 yards and another score.

He’s coming off back-to-back 800-yard seasons at Western Carolina and was awarded the 2022 SoCon Freshman of the Year honors.

As a sophomore in 2023, playing in just eight games, Reid was one of the best running backs in all of the FCS. He was elusive, forcing 40 missed tackles on just 131 carries, but he also racked up 536 yards after contact (4.39 YAC/attempt). He was an explosive home run hitter, too, racking up 30 runs of 10+ yards and 18 runs of 15+ yards.

Reid hasn’t been able to show off too much since he arrived at Pitt, but he was very solid over the spring. His speed is no joke, one of the fastest players on the roster, and his blend of speed and pass-catching has him right behind Rodney Hammond Jr. on the depth chart.

I expect Reid to receive his fair share of touches, carries and catches, in the 2024 season. He’s the kind of player who should thrive in the new Pitt offensive scheme, as he’s already done before.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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