A weird thing happened three-quarters of the way through the 2019 Pitt football season.  A true-freshman Wide Receiver started catching passes.  It was weird at first because nobody had ever heard of him.  “Who’s number 82?” I remember asking myself at the Duke game when he made his first grab, “dude looks pretty big”.  I got even weirder as the season went on because Wayne was actually good at it.  Wayne caught 13 balls for 214 yards and a touchdown over the final three games of the season (Virginia Tech, Boston College and Eastern Michigan).  Extrapolated over a 13 game season (12 + a bowl) that’s 56 for 927 and 4 TD’s.  Them’s 3rd team (maybe even second team if he played for the Tarheels) all-ACC numbers people.)

Of course if you extrapolated every true-freshman contributors top four games over an entire season then Pitt would have won ten games four years ago.  Or something like that. 

But still, shouldn’t all those receipts have been going to someone a little, oh I don’t know, older?  Seems like we’ve been hearing about Dontavius Butler-Jenkins for like seven years now (actually only four, he’ll be a redshirt Junior in 2020…if there is a 2020).  Seems like Michael Smith has been everybody’s favorite breakout candidate for just as long.

Well it turns out Jenkins was injured for the final three games of 2019, and Smith , well he played in four games and made one tackle last season as a redshirt Sophomore.  So there is that.

We should also, as we are trying to figure out the Jared Wayne issue, take a quick look at all the other wide receivers on the depth chart that might have payed in front of him.  I’m showing last year’s “Class” (eg Fr, So) so you can see how much older they were than Wayne.

r-So – Jenkins and Smith as mentioned above.

r-Fr – John Vardzel.  Diminutive former walk-on who ostensibly has great hands.  “Returned” (i.e. was back to there to catch and not drop) punts in the latter stages of 2019.  I honestly can’t remember how he did.  Also caught three balls for six yards.  He has South Carolina roots, so maybe there is more Hunter Renfrow in him than you think.  But lets not hold our breath people, Renfrow caught 32 balls for 492 yards and 5 TD’s his redshirt fresman year at Clemson.  While it’s great to see a kid like this get playing time, I’m glad we had a scholarship player on the roster that was better.  Even if he was true Frosh.

So – Shocky Jaques-Louis.  Another guy that’s seemingly been around forever, and another guy that came on late.  Shocky caught 18 balls for 298 yards and two TD’s over the final five games (including the bowl).  That’s 47 – 775 – 4 over a full season.  By the numbers Wayne’s stats were actually a tick better, but it’s three games versus five and everybody knows Shocky has that Florida speed.  Wayne?  He’s from Canada.  I’m pretty sure we’ve never heard of Canada speed for a reason.

Jr – Taysir Mack.  We all know this guy.  Super talented when he’s healthy and probably the best contested catch guy to wear a Pitt uniform since Larry Fitzgerald himself.  (I’ll stop here and say that I am in NO way comparing Mack’s overall skill set to Fitzgerald, but dang it fellas, Mack does have a knack for coming down with jump balls at some pretty key moments.)  The biggest issue with Mack is that he seems to break down midway through a season.  Reading between the lines and looking at some tweets from last off season it seems like he might have a foot issue.  There is no doubting Mack’s toughness, but I’d be shocked to see him sustain productivity over a full season.  (Also for the record he is listed at 6’0, 205.  I’m telling you right now he sure as heck doesn’t look like he’s 205.)

Sr – Tre Tipton.  Everybody knows this guy too, and everybody (as they rightly should) roots for him to succeed.  Sadly, the fates do not and Tipon get injured every. single. year.  Caught 7 balls for 81 yards and two TD”s prior to hurting himself during practice in 2019.  That would have been 28 – 360 – 8 on the season.  (You gotta like 8 TD’s…although I’ll say it’s unlikely Tre would have sustained that pace…but who knows).  He wrangled an extra year of eligibility for 2020 so maybe this is the year the football gods will smile.

Fr  – Will Gipson.  Local guy, also a true Freshman.  Would not have expected him to play.

Sr – Maurice Ffrench.  Caught 92 balls.  Had jaw broken at Georgia Tech game.

Sr – Aaron Matthews.  Clairton’s second-favorite son (behind Tyler Boyd of course).  Or maybe 3rd if you count LaMont Wade…which nobody should.  Matthews has the distinction of having the best arm on the WR Corps, and being involved in not one but two successful trick plays last season (I think he was involved in some razzle dazzle at Syracuse.  Pls correct me if I’m mistaken…it’s late and I’m too tired to fact check).  Inconsistent hands plagued him all season though and he never developed into the pass catcher many of us thought he would.

So I guess my takeaway is that Wayne played because, well, we really didn’t have anybody else.  By the time the Virginia Tech game rolled around, Pitt had no less than four wide-outs nursing injuries.  Tipton had been hurt weeks ago, Mack was in a walking boot, Frrench had his jaw wired shut (I’m hyperbolizing here…but we was still out), Butler Jenkins was out.  That left Smith, Vardzel, Matthews, Wayne and Gipson left in the fold.

Smith ostensibly wasn’t ready for prime time.  (He may never be).  Vardzel well…he’s a scrappy kid.  Matthews’ consistency problems were well documented by that point, and Gipson was still just a puppy.  Add in the fact that Wayne had been impressing in practice and well…the rest as they say is history.

Per John McGonigal’s Post-Gazette feature on Wayne from last November:

Pitt wide receivers coach Chris Beatty said he thought Wayne would redshirt in 2019. Between Tipton, Ffrench, Mack, Jacques-Louis and senior Aaron Mathews, Beatty’s room was stacked with veterans. Plus, Wayne didn’t enroll early; he joined the program over the summer. So it’s not as if he had ample time to learn Mark Whipple’s playbook.

But Wayne’s play in August camp moved him ahead of a few more established receivers, something Beatty “didn’t foresee happening.” Beatty and the staff decided Wayne would be given the green light in 2019, removing a redshirt from the table.

“Really from the beginning of the year, we knew he had a chance to be pretty good,” Beatty said.

“There are always those freshmen who separate themselves,” junior cornerback Jason Pinnock said. “They want the coaching. They’re not still on their recruiting high. They still don’t think they’re the guy. He came in humble, and that’s why he’s in the position that he’s in, to help us win.”

I’ll spare you the part about where I get all rah-rah about Pitt’s receiving corps this year and the hot incoming freshman, and I’ll point out instead that Pitt got incredibly lucky that Wayne was game ready by the final third of the season.  It’s not often a three-star recruit who played only one year of wide-receiver in high school can develop that quickly (he was a quarterback prior).  Pitt is going to need more depth this year, because when (not if) Tipton and Mack go down (sorry fellas…and I honestly hope I’m wrong) we are still going to be mighty thin.

Jared Wayne
Wayne played well in his last three.  Granted BC had one of the worst secondaries in P5, and Eastern Michigan is a MAC school.  Still, the productivity against Va-Tech is encouraging.  For all you optimists out there, Pitt is undefeated in games in which Wayne scores a touchdown (hah-hah)
Jared Wayne Rivals
Didn’t even have a picture.  Four offers.  Pitt was his only P5.  Reach or Under-The-Radar?  He came from the same school as Haba Balonaldo…so in this case I’ll go with Under-The-Radar.  Partridge is 2 for 2 in the last two years out of Clearwater Academy.  

29 thoughts on “Why Jared Wayne (and Where the H*** are All the Other Receivers)?

  1. I realize that we’re discussing the WR position but wouldn’t it be a nice scenario to have a starting TE that can actually both run a route that creates separation & the hands required to catch the damn balls thrown his way? Let’s hope somebody steps up. Is Lucas Krull that guy? Who knows?

    I will tell you that having that extra weapon in your offensive arsenal is going to take some pressure off our WR corps regarding how opposing teams address their coverages. BTW, in my mind Wayne has proven himself already. He is a 2020 starter as far as I’m concerned.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks Michaelangelo very interesting

    Canadian speed? Andre De Grasse won the silver 200m in the 2016 Olympics and a bronze in the 100m

    Wayne is really good but I agree, not sure of his speed.


    1. Mike Shanahan didn’t have speed either but he managed to get open. He was who I hoped Aaron Mathews would become. I’ll take that and let Shocky provide the speed.


  3. one would think that if a 3-star 5.5 recruit originally from Ontario CA with one year WR experience can make a splash as a natural frosh …. then our 3 incoming 5.7 WRs from Florida, Georgia and Maryland can also do so. Or at least one of them

    Wayne was schooled in his final year at Clearwater Academy in FL but nonetheless, was a great find. Jordan Addison and Jaylon Barden had really good senior seasons, and were upgraded on a few services after the seasons. Aydin Henningham actually dropped from a 5.8 4-star to a 5.7 3-star after his senior year after playing on a team with 3 other D1 recruits …. who are going to Miami, Ga Tech (and I forgot the 3rd.)

    But don’t expect immediate results …. it may take a while as it did for Jared

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So you have to be on the field to make catches. Wayne and Shocky made more catches when Ffrench and Mack were hurt. Number of catches also is better when the QB gets time to throw and makes a good throw.

    Overall the catch to throw percentage was very poor. So many drops.

    Ffrench is a difficult guy to replace, will be done by committee if no one stands out.

    I agree that Krull could help the overall numbers go up.

    If there is a football season.

    If not, how many guys will stick around if another year of eligibility is granted? Not really a wide receiver issue, except for Mack.


  5. who says Canadians aren’t fast, Ben Johnson was….
    ….on stanozolol

    and who doesn’t think today’s athletes are using? my guess, near half both pro and amateur
    at least things such as creatine but far more
    is creatine allowed anyway?


    1. Just to let you know T-Man…. Ben Johnson was born in Jamaica Man………………. Now I’m off to make my spaghetti bender sauce.


  6. Tons of research on creatine even for improved cognition in the elderly…but dont know if its allowed in sports.
    I know tons of weightlifters and amateur athletes that swear by it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Appreciate the article, MM. Though I must admit that thinking about the current Panther team kind of saddens me because I wonder if we’ll get the chance to see them play.

      And players who have been injury-prone do sometimes end up having strong seasons – so there is that with respect to Tipton and Mack. (I thought I read somewhere where Mack hardly practiced later in the season – but then makes that amazing catch to win the bowl game…)

      Jared “Duke” Wayne does indeed look like a keeper.

      Go Pitt.


      1. Yea for a while I saw no point in writing anything but right it’s all a welcome distraction. Sooner or later there will be football again. Let’s control what we can control

        Liked by 2 people

  7. it may get to the point that training camp doesn’t start until mid-Sept …. and then all college teams and pros play league games only. 8 game schedule for ACC beginning Oct.. And the 4 independents (ND, Army, JMU and BYU) will have to playa round robin, I guess. But Army still plays Navy in Dec of course.


  8. If I read one more local news article on poor Ped State not having time to work in new OC I will puke. On a positive note at Heinz we could have social distancing by sitting in every other seat, nobody would be denied a seat and the stadium would look full. There have been articles on how many of the 100k schools would be denied. All are hypos by bored sportswrites, live for today. I wore a red bandana to the store with a black Stetson – groceries for nothing and the cash (chicks) were free. insert iek.
    Great article MM. Wayne did impress me in his limited time. In my opinion the lack of actually catching the ball comes in last in recruiting assessments. Speed kills but so do dropped balls. I’m with Dr Tom on TEs catching and blocking should not be so difficult to find.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The 2 most difficult positions to learn in college and pros are WR and QB. When I was a WR in HS, we may have had 8-10 pass routes to learn.

    In college, not only do you have 50+ pass routes to learn but each route changes depending on the defense and your read.

    Intelligence at WR is as important as your skill set in college.

    Be well all!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Talk about nice catches? With all the emphasis we are giving our prowess on the defensive side of the ball, Maestro’s “grab” to start off offensive conversations with Jared Wayne, indeed converted the first down.

    I remember the same thoughts on his first few catches last fall: “Who-the-heck is that hanging onto the ball?” Hopefully, he can pick up where he left off. As said above, a lot will depend on having enough offensive strengths to keep the D from keying on him. A strong run game, a solid OL, and (as the good doctor opined) a TE threat would be a great start.


  11. If PITT can somehow figure out how to NOT drop half the passes they did last year, the offense will be 100% better this year.

    Krull looks like a stud, lets hope he plays like he looks.

    This years defense will be real bad ass. IF!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Probably already posted, but Pitt/UPMC is also working on a blood test to determine if a person has developed antibodies to coronavirus… Here’s info from a PG article…

    “Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are reportedly close to completing a blood test to determine immunity against the virus that causes COVID-19.

    According to the Pittsburgh PG, the test could identify people who could serve in the front lines of the battle against the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak with little risk of being infected.

    “We are developing an antibody test based on a European test to see if people were exposed and might be immune,” Dr. Alan Wells, executive vice-chairman of the Section of Laboratory Medicine in the UPMC Department of Pathology, told the PG.

    Further testing to be done — at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research under Paul Duprex and the UPMC Infectious Disease Division under John Mellors — will determine if these IgG and IgA antibodies are the immune type that neutralizes the virus to provide protection, Dr. Wells said.”

    Hail to Pitt!


  13. Was just listening to Paul Zeise. Apparently someone picked an All-Decade NFL team. Paul made the point that while only two Steelers made the team, FOUR PITT PANTHERS made the team. 👍

    Hats off to Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis, Shady McCoy, and Aaron Donald.

    Go Pitt.


    1. This list of schools with number of All-Decade players was posted on the Lair. Good recruiting tool.

      Pitt 4
      Cal 4
      Miami 3
      Tenn 2
      LSU 2
      Wisky 2
      Texas 2
      TA&M 2
      CMU 2
      Alabama 1
      GT 1
      Arkansas 1
      Bloomburg 1
      USC 1
      Fresno St 1
      Notre D 1
      Iowa 1
      Florida 1
      Michigan 1
      Oklahoma 1
      KSU 1
      Nebraska 1
      UNC 1
      WVU 1
      Miss St 1
      Syracuse 1
      BC 1
      Buffalo 1
      Utah St 1
      FSU 1
      Stanford 1
      Utah 1
      Kansas 1
      Oregon St 1
      Memphis 1
      West Alabama 1

      PSU 0

      Hail to Pitt!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. No cow tippers. Now that makes my day complete.

        Walked 9 holes with Mrs. Erie yesterday. Good to swing the clubs again.

        And no arrests…



        Liked by 2 people

  14. Great to hear Rick, are sure you didn’t mean cow chippers? I understand the psu folks didn’t wash their hands after the contest?


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