The All-ACC academic team was announced yesterday and Pitt put six players on it.
While questions may arise about head coach Pat Narduzzi’s on-the-field football coaching abilities, there is no question about his staff’s off-the-field academic coaching abilities. Information from Pitt’s SID is in Italics below:
The Panthers’ six honorees rank fourth among the ACC’s 14 football schools. In Pat Narduzzi’s four seasons as head coach, Pitt has 26 All-ACC Academic Football Team honorees, the second-highest total among conference schools during that span.
Pitt was beaten out by three schools. Duke (duh), Georgia Tech (no surprise) and Clemson (what????). Duke had 12 selections. GT had 8 and Clemson had 7 (although at least two of them tested positive for mind-enhancing substances). Virginia and Syracuse tied Pitt with six.
To be eligible for consideration, a student-athlete must have earned at least a 3.00 grade point average for the previous semester and maintained a minimum 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career. Athletic achievements during the most recent season are also considered in selecting the team.
“On behalf of our entire program, I want to congratulate each of our six All-ACC Academic Football Team honorees,” Narduzzi said. “They were not only important contributors on the field, but also high achievers in the classroom as well. These six young men exemplify the best of the Pitt football experience and we take great pride in their accomplishments.”
The Pitt Academic All-ACC Players are as follows:
Rafael Araujo-Lopes (Kissimmee, Fla./Winter Park/Reedley College) led the Panthers in receptions in each of the past two seasons. As a senior, he had an 86-yard punt return touchdown at UCF, the longest return by an ACC player in 2018 and the fifth-longest nationally. He earned his bachelor’s degree in public service and is enrolled in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Dennis Briggs (Wilkinsburg, Pa./Shady Side Academy) started all 14 games at strong safety and finished third on the team with 59 tackles. He was elected a Pitt captain by his teammates for the second consecutive year, making him the Panthers’ first multiple-time captain sinceAaron Donald(2012-13). Briggs earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and is enrolled in Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business.
As a first-year starting specialist, Kirk Christodoulou (Melbourne, Australia/Balwyn) averaged 41.4 yards per punt. He boomed a 73-yarder at Miami, the Panthers’ longest punt since the 2004 season, and also had a 71-yarder at Wake Forest. Christodoulou is a finance major.
Connor Dintino (Mashpee, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) received Honorable Mention All-ACC recognition as a senior after starting all 14 games on the Panthers’ offensive line. He displayed valuable versatility, making 11 starts at guard and the final three contests at center. Dintino earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing and is now enrolled in Pitt’s Katz Graduate School of Business.
Darrin Hall (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown Fitch) was an All-ACC tailback this past season, rushing for 1,144 yards and 10 touchdowns on 153 attempts. He averaged 7.48 yards per carry, breaking the 43-year-old Pitt record set by the legendaryTony Dorsett (6.6-yard rushing average in 1975; minimum 1,000-yards gained). Hall is a health and physical activity major.
Jimmy Morrissey (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./La Salle College H.S.) earned All-ACC honors at center in 2018. He is the first Pitt player at that position to earn such distinction. Although his streak of 23 consecutive starts was halted due to a season-ending injury at Wake Forest (Nov. 17), Morrissey is expected to regain his status as one of the ACC’s top centers in 2019. He is a finance and marketing major.
It’s easy to see what is happening here. Narduzzi is winning with a cobbled-together collection of transfers, walk-ons and Paul Chryst players. Only one player on this ACC All Academic team was recruited by Narduzzi out of High School. (Punter Kirk Christodoulou), and he is from Australia so he hardly even counts.
I’ll go ahead and break this down for you:
Araujo-Lopes while technically “recruited” by Naduzzi, transferred in from Junior College and was no more than a band-aid solution for the academic team. And it’s a good thing Narduzzi snagged him, otherwise we wouldn’t have a single pass-catcher on the squad. Lopes’ work in the Graduate School of International Affairs will not go unnoticed as Pitt attempts to lure more foreign players like the aforementioned Kirk Christodoulou, and Canadian Offensive Line recruit Liam Dick.
Briggs was a Chryst recruit, and often maligned as less-talented-than-the-people-behind-him at that. Well not only could no Narduzzi recruits displace him on the field, but apparently none could replace him in the classroom. Briggs has a finance degree (HARD) and is currently working on his Katz MBA. (ALSO HARD)
Dintino, was also a Chryst recruit. Not only did he have to learn the entire offensive playbook this year because he switched from D-Line to O-Line, but he had to learn two positions (Guard and Center), and yet somehow Dintino still found a way to maintain a 3.0 average in MBA graduate classes. He’s my academic MVP.
Hall, was yet another Paul Chryst recruit, further proving that Narduzzi just can’t recruit for academics. For my money Hall has the most common sense of the group (which is a form of intelligence). His Health and Physical activity major makes perfect sense for anyone who wants to optimize their on the field performance while giving themselves an opportunity to excel off the field, and possibly go into coaching (and send his best young players to Pitt!), that is, after his long and productive NFL career.
And finally Jimmy Morrisey is nothing more than a walk-on. It speaks volumes to Narduzzi’s recruiting approach that he had to plug Morrisey in as his starting center last year and also that he’s only one of two underclassmen on the all Academic team.
So as you can see, Pitt fans, Narduzzi’s recruiting is falling way short of the mark here if Pitt is expected to maintain its ACC academic dominance. We are definitely going to need some underclassmen to step up in 2019. The good news is that there is some coaching turnover at Georgia Tech, so that will help. The bad news is that with Pat’s newfound reliance on Florida recruits and Florida’s abysmal 40’th ranked public school system, we might not have the horses to compete. Here is to hoping Pitt’s supposedly world-class academic support staff can develop our team in the offseason. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Hail to Pitt
LOL JUST KIDDING FOLKS!!! CONGRATULATIONS TO PITT’S SIX HONOREES AND BEST OF LUCK IN THE SENIORS’ CAREERS!