It’s an in-between period for Pitt football right now. We are over the euphoria of the Mark Whipple hire. The schedule has been released and we’ve made our initial win-loss predictions and travel plans. There are a couple of weeks until signing day.
Besides some recruiting and transfer cleanup, the biggest question is who will be our next Wide Receivers coach?
It’s an important role. Whipple loves to throw the ball, and one could argue that our roster is chock full of talented-yet-underdeveloped Wide Receivers.
Or course there has been no news, and really no solid rumors in the public blogoshphere. The most tangible conversation around the Pitt WR Coach is “Will Whipple hire Leonard Hankerson?” For those that don’t know Hankerson, he’s the former Miami Hurricane / Former NFL WR / Current WR Coach for the Umass Minutemen (who of course were coached by Whipple).
As far as qualifications, Hankerson did have lights-out senior year at Miami (72 rec / 1156 yds / 13 TD), and he did manage to stick around for five years in the NFL, but his coaching experience is a bit light. Per Wikipedia: “Leonard Hankerson joined Mark Whipple’s UMass football staff as an offensive graduate assistant in July 2017 and earned a promotion into the role of wide receivers coach for the 2018-19 school year.“
So yeah. I’m guessing they will be looking for someone a little more senior.
Nobody has any idea who that might be.
The only other college receivers coach with obvious Whipple ties Aubrey Hill. Hill was the WR coach at Miami from 2009 – 2010, and he didn’t do a bad job, so I decided to do a little research on him.
And you know what? Aubrey Hill actually makes a lot of sense, and there are four really solid reasons.
First, He’s currently a Wide Receiver coach at a lesser school. Hill did a brief stint at Marshall and spent 2018 on the Florida International staff under Butch Davis. At FIU Hill coached a couple of 600-yard WR’s and was part of a passing game that threw for over 3000 yards.
Second, he’s coached under Whipple (see above).
Third, he has University of Pittsburgh experience. That right. Hill coached Pitt’s WR’s from 2005-2007 and made all Big-East performers out of of Greg Lee and Derek Kinder.
Fourth, and possibly most importantly, Hill has got some serious recruiting pedigree. He was Miami’s recruiting coordinator in 2010, and then he coached Miami Carol High School for four years. Hill won the 2016 6A Florida State Championship while at Carol, along with the “Miami Dolphins High School Coach of the Year Award”.
Yes there is the unsightly blemish of some 2011 Nevin Shapiro scandal allegations on Hill’s resume, but I’ll be damned if this guy doesn’t deserve a second chance. Everybody makes mistakes in this world, and with AD Heather Lyke’s compliance background, you can be sure that Pitt is running a tight ship in this area. Hill has paid his debt to the NCAA, and as long as he has learned his lesson, Pitt could do a lot worse.
So lets go back and summarize all of this…
There exists a Wide Receiver Coach who 1) has Pittsburgh ties, 2) has a track-record of developing talent, 3) is currently employed by a lesser (and easily poachable) school, and 4) has the kind of High School recruiting ties that would give any head coach looking to recruit South Florida a Victory Lights smile.
Nope. No way we even sniff this one. It just makes way too much sense.
Hail to Pitt