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Pitt FB Recruiting

Ludwig: The Weekend Commits in the Class of ’25 Are Intriguing



Pitt running back commit Ja'Kyrian Turner

Pitt has held two official visit weekends and doubled its class of 2025 over that period. That’s six commitments, and who’s to say there may not be a few more additions over the next couple of weeks? Just because a commit leaves without committing doesn’t mean he’s a lost cause.

Pitt has 12 commitments. It isn’t a glamorous class, ranked 42nd by 247Sports and 45th by Rivals, but there are some pretty talented, sought-after recruits in the class. There’s just one four-star recruit, which is what the Panthers should strive for, but those shiny stars aren’t all that important.

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The lowly class of 2019 (57th-ranked by Rivals and 49th-ranked by 247Sports) produced a four-star in Matt Goncalves, who committed way before he was a four-star, but Brandon Hill, Calijah Kancey, Jared Wayne and A.J. Woods were lowly three-stars. SirVocea Dennis was a two-star.

That’s six NFL players in one class. That’s not bad. I wonder if it led to any team success…

Obviously, the Pitt coaching staff has shown the ability to evaluate talent. It’s not as if top-ranked talent is lining up to come check out the South Side facility. So, maybe we need to take a step back sometimes and evaluate the situation before it gets out of control.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what the vast majority of a recruiting class will turn out to be, 99% of those classes, really, but it’s a class that fits exactly what Pitt is looking for. And it’s kind of surprisingly so.

Here’s who has committed so far this month:

It’s a group that, as I’ve mentioned, isn’t star-studded. It’s all three-star recruits. But there’s plenty of potential.

There’s one offensive lineman, and he’s the newest recruit — and PSN will have further content from not only him but his coaches in the NFL Academy. He’s a huge, long-armed tackle who started as a rugby player.

Akram Elnagmi is raw, but there’s a lot of potential when looking at his size, wingspan and athleticism. There’s a lot of work to be done, but he’s worth the risk when it comes to his physical tools.

Max Hunt, by all accounts, is more so a receiver than a tight end, but that’s what the game is today. He’s a long, lean 215 pounds and coming off a strong season in which he hauled in 36 receptions for 424 yards (11.8 yards per reception) and six touchdowns.

“(Tight ends coach Jacob Bronowski) just likes my athletic ability,” Hunt told PSN when he committed. “He wants a tight end that can stretch the field, go vertically, run every route in the route tree and catch the ball. Run routes against DBs and linebackers. A versatile guy, not necessarily an inline blocking type of tight end like it used to be. A dynamic type of athlete.”

Ja’Kyrian Turner is interesting. He was recruited by some schools as a wide receiver or defensive back, but his size and dynamic ability with the ball in his hands bodes well for his future as a running back.

“Coach Kade got a great offense, he knows how to get his players the ball, he knows how to move the ball down the field,” Turner told PSN when he committed. “He just knows what he’s doing with the ball offensive-wise. He said I can fit right in and come in and make a big impact.”

I mean, if you watch Turner’s film, the first four or five clips are him racing back through an opposing offense with the ball in his hands after forcing a turnover. Turner looks like a star. He’s a legitimate athlete.

Julian Anderson decided to trust in his ability to capitalize off a prep season, moving from Florida to New Jersey, and he looks like the type of long, lean defensive end who will pack on the pounds over his first year in Pittsburgh.

“They play fast and physical, and it’s not thinking too much, we’re gonna attack you and we’re gonna hit,” Anderson told PSN when he committed. “And you’re gonna have fun while you’re playing, that’s what this defense is about. It’s going full speed at all times.”

Justin Thompson is the type of versatile athlete that Pitt prioritizes. He’s a fit at any of the three linebacker spots in the defensive scheme.

“I feel like my game fits great in there,” Thompson told PSN when he committed. “I’m a really aggressive, downhill, sideline-to-sideline linebacker. They’re the most aggressive defense in the country, they blitz a lot, always sending six, had the most sacks, TFLs, they do what I like to do. How they run the defense is similar to how I do it in high school.”

In fact, I think Thompson is just the latest in a line of very talented linebackers to commit to Pitt over the last two and a half seasons — shoutout Ryan Manalac.

DaMarion Fowlkes looks like he might be the top offensive recruit in the class — and I’m very high on three-star quarterback commit Mason Heintschel.

“I see myself fitting really the same way Poppi (Williams) plays,” Fowlkes told PSN when he committed. “That slot, getting the ball in open space and just making plays.”

Kade Bell has a type when it comes to the wide receivers he’s recruiting, and Fowlkes fits that mold. He’s a shorter, faster wideout who can play inside and outside. And he’s destined for that slot role in the offensive scheme, a weapon to be utilized in open space. He’s certainly exciting.

Pitt will have a heavy dose of official visitors in town this week, closing out the final official visit weekend on a high note, but the class of 2025 was built on the foundation of some very intriguing recruits who committed over the last couple of weeks — or months.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago

Pitt desperately needs to start 3-0 this year

Richard Johnson
1 month ago

It sounds like you are making excuses for Pitt’s lack of recruiting studs. You are right some kids fall between the cracks, but, look at rivals top 10 they are always in the hunt for a National Championship. This is a place Pitt will never get to because of not being able to attract top talent consistently.This is no knock on he kids, Pitt’s kids almost always out perform their ratings but Pitt cannot compete with Ohio St., Michigan, Alabama and Georgia, Pitt is far from that level.

1 month ago

Pitt has done well over the last decade finding gems but the problem with that growth and development strategy now is kids have zero loyalty for the most part these days. It’s about instant gratification which I don’t like but that’s the truth. If you develop a player for two years then he’s finally ready to play who’s to say you don’t only get one season two if you’re lucky from a player before he transfers for more money. Pitt has big money they need to use it or we’ll get stuck in the big 12 or worse after the… Read more »

1 month ago
Reply to  Marty

But does Pitt really have that much money? Because they had a few starters who chose back up money at other schools over starter money at Pitt. I don’t see where they have big money. Yes there is the 412 alliance but what else past that? Unless they can leverage money from UPMC they are a mid money team hoping for one or 2 big recruits and a bunch of diamonds in the rough. And don’t knock the Big 12, that is Pitts best case landing spot. Worst case is they end up joining Syracuse and BC and going to… Read more »

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago


Kelvin Byrd
Kelvin Byrd
1 month ago

“…but those shiny stars aren’t all that important.”

The hell they’re not.

While you can make more from some guys that were overlooked, this article is written like Pitt can simply afford to not have highly ranked players commit and get on the roster.

You can’t win if you don’t have the players.

Winning is tough at this level, but you gotta have the studs.

When was the last true highly-touted player that Pitt actually won a recruiting war on?

Who was the last player anyone was truly excited about Pitt signing?
1 month ago
Reply to  Kelvin Byrd

The stars don’t remain the same from the junior season to end of senior season. Many 3 star rated players have a 75-79 score. An 80 score is officially a 4 star. The difference between an upper three star, and a lower 4 star is insignificant. Many times, when Pitt receives a commit from a 3 star recruit, that 3 star recruit will be a 4 star by the end of their senior season.

1 month ago

It’s all about the $$$ now. Loyalty doesn’t matter and who’s the coach isn’t all that important either to the top rated players. That’s why Sabin retired and many others will follow.

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