Pitt nabbed their third graduate transfer tight end in three seasons today.  Two of the three have come from Rutgers.  Matt Flanagan was the first Rutgers grad transfer TE back in 2017, and Nakia Griffin-Stewart, who announced his commitment today, is the second.

First of all, congratulations to Mr. Griffin-Stewart.  He’s instantly upgraded his playing situation and moved from a perennial division bottom-feeder (Rutgers) into a division championship contender (Pitt).  That in-and-of-itself speaks to the intelligence of the man, and his ability to diagnose a situation.  Secondly, Griffin-Stewart has moved from a situation where his receiving skills were likely under utilized, to a situation where he receiving skills will likely be highlighted.  While it’s tough to comment on exactly how good of a receiver Griffin-Stewart actually is, these two highlight-reel catches should be tantalizing enough for certain elements of the Pitt fanbase to anoint the new guy as the next Dorin Dickerson.  I don’t know if I want to go that far, but what I see is certainly promising, and Griffin-Stewart is most likely a receiving upgrade over Carson Van Lynn (no offense to Mr. Van Lynn).

 

Griffin-Stewart did not do much with Rutgers last year (which probably helped him make the decision to transfer), but he did have a reasonably solid sophomore campaign.

Griffen Stewart.JPG

by comparison, Pitt’s leading receiving last year was Will Gragg, so based on previous team production, we’ve just doubled our output.

Will Gragg

No matter what he does on the field, you can’t argue with the fact the Griffin-Stewart adds much-needed depth to the Tight End room, which currently comprises Gragg (transfer who ostensibly has trouble run-blocking), Jim Medure (walk on), Carson Van Lynn (converted tackle), Grant Carrigan (run blocking TE, w zero career catches), Kaymar Mimes (converted DE / redshirt frosh) and freshman Jason Collier (again, a run-blocker).

If history is any guide, new OC Mark Whipple will make good use of the weapons he has, so Giffin-Stewart’s upside should be limited only by his natural talent, intelligence and work ethic.  I’m assuming he has two of the three, but the jury is out on his talent level, at least until we can see him on the field.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone

 

56 thoughts on “Pitt Lands a Transfer Tight End

    1. According to another article I read it does. I think they will probably figure out the 85 man roster after spring

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    2. Ike he doesn’t graduate until May. My guess is Pitt will have a few leave the program after Spring drills conclude and that should open up some additional scholarships.

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  1. MM – thanks for finding those clips of the new TE.

    Nice size + experience / maturity = a chance to be a positive for the offense.

    But can we please go out and find a TE high school recruit who is more of a TE than an OT?

    We seem to have problems determining what we want in a TE. Gragg looks like a large WR; Van Lynn looks like an OT; Mimes was a DE…

    At 6’7”, Carrigan has awesome size for miss matches, but can he run and catch well enough? We’ve seen no evidence yet.

    I’m hoping Mr. Whipple can give the staff some guidance and help whip-ple this position into shape…

    Go Pitt.

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    1. Well what Whip wants will be different from what Watson wanted. The roster today is certainly and indication of the state of the position, and it’s not good

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      1. A quick look at some UMass stats shows some interesting points.

        Last season, WR Isabella caught 102 passes, scored 13 TDs, and averaged over 16 yards per catch. Impressive numbers, but then I learned that Isabella, though 5’10”, runs a sub 4.4 forty and is supposed to go pretty high in the NFL draft. (Apparently Coach Whipple signed him based on some video and Isabella being the HS 100 meter dash champ in Ohio.)

        So Isabella caught 102 passes and the next guy caught 28. You could look at that as Isabella was really good, but it also shows that even when the defense knew where the ball was going, Coach Whipple was still able to get him the ball.

        Another thing was that UMass had 411 pass attempts and 410 rushes last season, so Coach W. was not exactly pass-happy.

        And finally, UMass used 3 different QBs last season, with 2 of them pretty much splitting the snaps. Whether that was due to injuries or performance, I don’t know, but Coach W. has experience with using multiple QBs…

        I guess the UMass game videos from last season will be getting a lot of scrutiny by Pitt’s opponents this season…

        Go Pitt.

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        1. I agree MM this bodes well for our offense, and the fact the Whip featured Breneman for two years and the completely rebuilt the offense around Isabella is really encouraging. I think he really knows how to utilize a team’s strengths. Will be very interesting to see which receivers end up getting the ball. You have to think Ffrency and Mack are going to be breakout candidates, and there is probably another one in there somewhere two. We could end up with three 60+ catch guys (one of which could be this TE if he’s good enough…but lets not go there just yet). That’s all assuming Picket can develop of course…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The other WR “in there somewhere” could well be one of the other seniors. I may be wrong, but I have suspected that both Aaron Mathews and Tre Tipton are way better players than they have shown.

            I’ve also wondered if one of them, mainly Tre, might transfer someplace to try to get some playing time… Though by his attitude, Tre seems like a great Pitt Guy…

            Go Pitt.

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  2. AS far as an opening, the optimal situation would be a 4 year player who doesn’t play much and still has another year eligibility, and has also received his degree. The 2nd option is an undergrad who has been in the program a couple years and realizes he’s not going to see much PT.

    This past season has been surprisingly suspension and transfer-free. The only one who entered the transfer portal was the holder and back-up kicker, and not even sure he was a schollie. The only suspension I can recall was Elias Reynolds at the bowl game. (maybe he attended an El Paso massage spa, or something) Maybe PN’s assertion that he wants good character people who wants to be here was not just blowing smoke

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      1. D Street did leave Richard, whether he found a home yet or not and entered the portal?

        SAB, I really haven’t read anything indicating great excitement over the TE recruit but a bit of a consensus that it could improve PITT’s TE corp. You can color me a tad happy that PITT added a player at a need position. Hardly overwhelmed with excitement like a game show contestant who cannot believe their eyes over a parting gift. .

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  3. I doubt Carrigan and Van Lynn stay at TE. Maybe one will.

    Mimes isn’t a true DE convert. He may have spent a brief amount of time there as a FR, but I think he was quickly moved over to offense. He also played TE in HS.

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    1. Fair point on Mimes, but he was recruited as a DE and didn’t make the switch until we started losing TE commits. I hope he flourishes. He certainly has some height and athleticism.

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  4. A few thoughts:

    I highly doubt Reynolds visited a massage parlor as he is not a billionaire.

    Do we need anymore proof that Mr Krafty doesn’t play by the rules? Self entitlement comes to mind.

    The tight end recruit is an ok to good pickup considering that we all just don’t know how coach Whipple will use the TE’s. I really like his hire (and letting Watson go) but how long will it take him to put in an offense that runs like clockwork? We’re talking young college players and not the NFL.

    Who leaves the PITT football team to make room?

    February practically gone and spring football is almost here. Whoo hoo!

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  5. If anyone has a panther lair subscription I’d suggest you listen to Chris Peak’s Podcast with the TE Breneman he had at U Mass that caught 134 passes over 2 years after transferring in from PSU(actually he quit football and sat out several months). I think it should give all some insight into Whipple and his offensive philosophy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s actually a free listen, all of them are, and they are all informative. I almost added it into the article. Maybe i should have. You can listen here.

      https://pantherlair.podbean.com/

      Whipple did really good things with Brenman, but I will throw out one big caveat. Breneman was a pretty talented dude. If this transfer is as talented as Breneman, then Whip will do similarly good things with him. If he’s as talented as say, Matt Flanagan, then 20-25 catches is probably his limit.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. No question MM in the interview I believe Breneman stated that when he was out a game because of injury the TE was hardly used in the passing game. So if our new commit shows up on campus and can’t perform up to Whipple’s standard at TE then he will be little used.

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  7. Griffin-Stewart can run a route and catch a football… which is an obvious improvement.

    But BLOCKING is what he does best. He is REALLY good at it.

    Keeping in mind that Whipple does NOT use a Fullback per se, the new Kid on the Block is going to prove valuable.

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    1. I agree POD; he got a lot of time this past year playing the tackle position. I’d look for him to be the favorite on opening day at RT.

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  8. So I’m to get excited about the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal division champion gets a kid that did little to nothing for the very worst team in the Big 10 Conference and perhaps the worst Power-5 football school in the country? If you can’t start for Rutgers come to Pitt.

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    1. FWIW, I certainly don’t see Griffin-Stewart as a game changer, just another body in a position of need. And maybe more importantly, as PoD listed above, (1) he is a good blocker who can catch a pass and (2) may well allow Van Linn to return to OL where there is little experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. haha saturdays. I think the prevailing wisdom is that part of the reason rutgers was so bad was because they couldn’t get their $$$ players the ball. At least that’s what we are hoping for…

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  9. I’m quoting myself as I got a little distracted above.I repeat

    “SAB, I really haven’t read anything indicating great excitement over the TE recruit but a bit of a consensus that it could improve PITT’s TE corp. You can color me a tad happy that PITT added a player at a need position. Hardly overwhelmed with excitement like a game show contestant with a parting gift who cannot believe their eyes.”

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    1. The Penguins are fighting for a playoff berth, the Pirates have just begun spring training, and of course there is still Antonio Brown and Levion Bell who have dominated the local sports landscape for the last several months.

      As we all know, this is just one of the many reasons why Pitt is not the optimal school when it comes to sports. In reality, it appears that currently wrestling is the only sport where Pitt benefits from being located in a Western PA, pro sports city.

      This is not to say they cannot be competitive in other sports …. in basketball for instance, they play in a great facility with a noted fan section, and are in college BB’s best conference which gets plenty of exposure. But it is an uphill climb for many othefrs

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  10. There is a lot of angst about the the new tight end’s ability to play. In recent years we have gotten a very serviceable offensive lineman from the MAC (Kent State) and a wide receiver who may be the best at his position from Indiana…let’s give our new TE a chance folks.

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  11. meanwhile on the basketball recruiting front, here Is an excerpt from Rivals’ BB recruiting expert, Corey Evans:

    Members of the 2020 class, Julian Champagnie and Justin Champagnie took their first and only official visit two weeks ago to Pitt. The Panthers have really kicked things up into another gear with the talented twins from New York City. The added twist is that there is a chance that both could and will reclassify into the 2019 class in the coming months, an avenue I believe that they end up taking.
    They did just visit St. John’s on Saturday and Rutgers on Sunday as the local programs are definitely doing their best to keep the duo at home. However, it says here that the Champagnie siblings will enroll in the 2019 class and be found at Pitt next year.

    It should be noted that this is the same guy who proclaimed that 6″11 C Wahab was going to commit to Pitt about a month ago. Nonetheless, he has proven to be pretty knowledgeable, pretty sure that he was the one called the commitments of both X Johnson and T McGowans at Pitt

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  12. I saw that wwb, and noticed pgh sports has a locked article about good news for Pitt basketball, but I suspect it’s just rehashing the core evans ‘scoop’. I think the twins are visiting Dayton soon though, and although a lower level program and conference, they could provide better opportunities for “both” guys to get plenty of PT (not just one of them), then again I’m no expert here, just a theory I read. Not sure what to think here, other than they would apparently upgrade our roster and get plenty of opportunities, so I’d like to get them & if they’re up to the challenge of playing in the ACC, then hopefully it works out.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. and Alan Hornibrook just entered the transfer portal. I blame PiitofDreams for that post last month telling everyone just how good of a QB recruit that Paulie reeled in in.

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  14. wwb, Alex or Alan?

    Just throwing this out there, Capel and PITT are pursuing lots of good players. Not sure if they are better than the twins but it’s very possible they been asked to hold off and wait? From what I understand, they were not primary targets at first.

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    1. It’s my understanding that it will take a while to do so. I assume the NCAA clearinghouse or maybe their school has to certify they are college eligible. Who knows. They can commit whenever they want but won’t mean much until they are eligible.

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