This bit of info about Pitt having only four ACC Top 100 preseason players really bothers me and one reason is because it sounds entirely reasonable to me.
“Offensive lineman Alex Bookser leads the way and you don’t even find him until No. 31. Bookser is the only Panther in the top 50. Linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu jumps into the mix at No. 53. He’s followed by defensive end Rashad Weaver (No. 66) and Darrin Hall (No. 95). The four players Pitt had was tied for worst (with Syracuse and North Carolina) in the ACC.
Tack on top of that we had only three 1st or 2nd team All-ACC players on the 2017 postseason team; OL Brian O’Neill (1st team), Punter Ryan Winslow (1st team) and KR Quadree Henderson (2nd team) and none of them were players who committed to Pat Narduzzi to play ball at Pitt.
So after reading and digesting these bits of info – especially seeing that of the four Top 100 ACC Pre-season players only one is a Pat Narduzzi committed-recruit, I started researching past Pitt head coaches and looked to see how many recruits they landed who were selected to All-Conference teams in their first two or three years.
What I found pretty much supports my thoughts that Narduzzi is having a hard time so far in getting early impact players to commit to playing for him at Pitt. I mean it is obvious in that we haven’t seen it happen yet in three full seasons, but what about our past coaches?
Well, every other Pitt HC has had at least one but most had two players or more who committed to them make either All-ACC or All-Big East 1st string teams within their first three years. Now – it must be said that we haven’t seen what some of what Pat Narduzzi’s commits will do in their third years but the trend as it stands is worrisome.
Here is a quick chart I made of the past Head Coaches and which All-Star players (1st or 2nd team only) they had who broke out in their first three years on roster.
This is an accurate as I could get without really delving into past old archives but it tells the story I believe. It is important to note that most of these player did it within their first two years on the roster. Again, I remind that we still have to see how Narduzzi’s kids will play this year and next but…so far…
I’ve written about this often but it is very disturbing that not only hasn’t this happened with PN but here we are going into his 4th full season and we are still starting players like Dintino, Herndon, Roy, Zeise, Wirginis, Hall, Ollison and Briggs who not only are Chryst holdovers but just haven’t been very good players – and some never started many games if at all.
I know Pitt fans were very excited about PN’s first two recruiting classes but we have seen virtually no play from any of them and the ones who have gotten PT haven’t been all that impressive like Damar Hamlin. Not one of Narduzzi’s 4* recruits have been breakout players yet (again, so far) and that’s not happy making either.
Of his eight 4* recruits landed four are no longer on the team, three have gotten spot playing time with only Watts and Hamlin having started any games (none for a full season) and Ford was redshirted his FR year last season.
I really am worried about this because not only does it impact the play on the field this year but if Narduzzi gets canned in the next couple of years (which certainly could happen with subsequent losing seasons) then the roster cupboard is really bare for whoever takes over.
That said we are all looking forward to two players who were recruited bu Narduzzi in his first two full classes and they are QB Kenny Pickett who impressed with two good games at the tail end of last season. Not seen yet but a player everyone is excited about is 4* Paris Ford who will be in the two-deep at least at a cornerback spot. If he plays to hype – and he really impressed in the spring game – he could be one of the breakout players we’ve been missing.
I think two other players could do also. If Hall and Ollison continue to play the way they have which in my opinion has been underwhelming for a variety of reasons, then 4* RBs A. J. Davis (16 carries for 40 yds and a TD) and Mychale Salahuddin may see starting roles come their way sooner rather than later.
Davis had only spot duty last season and was not all that impressive but RBs need the ball early and often to really show what they have. I wouldn’t mind one bit if either of these two kids were in the backfield on opening day – that are talented and want to make a mark.
Let’s hope anyway – our offense can’t live or die on only one good player (Pickett to date) but needs star play from other as well.