Pitt Soldiers Past Departure Of Chryst In Recruiting

Please note that some recruiting videos may contain explicit lyrics, so please take care when watching in sensitive areas

The Pittsburgh Panthers survived the loss of former head coach Paul Chryst to his alma mater Wisconsin, and managed to put together a decent 2015 recruiting class, headlined by a pair of four-star prospects. The Pitt recruiting ranking dipped for the third year in a row to 53rd nationally and 13th in the ACC. In 2014 they ranked 44th nationally, down from 35th in 2013. Still, losing the coach that recruited many of players the school hopes to sign could spell disaster for some programs, but Pitt managed to hang onto most of their commitments.

Defensive lineman Davon Hamilton defected after committing to Pitt, but that was still during the Chryst era. And the words Hamilton and commitment are to be used loosely at best. He committed to Pitt after decommitting from Ohio. He then committed to Kentucky, only to decommit and finally (we think) decide on Ohio State. More recently the Panthers lost tight end commitment Nick Bowers to in state rival Penn State. With the tight end position being stocked deeply for Pitt the departure isn’t devastating, but speaks to the in state domination on the recruiting front for the Nittany Lions since head coach James Franklin took over.

New head coach Pat Narduzzi did manage to secure some solid commitments for Pitt, and we take a look at three of them here.

Jordan Whitehead – Defensive Back

  • Four-star recruit
  • 5’10”, 180 pounds
  • Central Valley high school (Monaca, PA)

Whitehead is likely the biggest get for the Panthers in 2015. He is the highest rated prospect in the state of Pennsylvania, and hasn’t even spent a great deal of time at the position he will assume in college. Whitehead played the bulk of his time in high school at running back, but will play corner for the Panthers, a position he played less at Central Valley. He will enter as a project in need of fine tuning in the secondary, but his speed and pure athleticism make him more than capable of adjusting.

The “knock” on Whitehead on the defensive side of the ball is on pass coverage. He has shown to be solid on run defense, and an effective tackler, but will need to work on playing on the ball through the air. He has decent height, but will need to add more bulk than his current 180 pounds to be able to bang bodies down the field with receivers.

Despite his inexperience at corner, his potential seems to be off the charts. He is fast (4.57 40 yard dash), and is extremely athletic. He also has the potential to be a big play threat on the interception front, and should be a vital cog in the Pitt secondary for years to come.

Darrin Hall – Running Back

  • Four-star recruit
  • 5’11”, 200 pounds
  • Austintown Fitch high school (Youngstown, OH)

Four-star recruit Darrin Hall joins a loaded Pitt backfield, and could still potentially make an immediate impact. Hall openly stated his desire to play for his in state school Ohio State, but never received an offer, despite being ranked 11th overall in the state. Still, he passed on schools such as Michigan State in favor of Pitt — a definite coup for the Panthers.

Hall has decent speed, running a 4.68 40-yard dash, but is known more for his bruising runs, that often take multiple defenders to bring him down. His runs can be equated to NFL star Marshawn Lynch when he enters “Beast mode”. His head down, legs churning style of running will remind Pitt fans of current back James Conner. Conner outweighs Hall by about 30 pounds at the moment, but their take-no-prisoner style of running are similar.

Anthony McKee – Secondary/Linebacker

  • Three-star recruit
  • 6’2″, 195 pounds
  • Marion Franklin high school (Columbus, OH)

Like Hall, McKee is another Ohio native who waited for the call that never came from Ohio State. Instead, McKee opted for the opportunity at Pitt, despite being ranked 18th over all in his home state. It’s unknown where McKee will play for the Panthers as of now. He played both linebacker and secondary (free safety) during high school, and will need to add bulk to his 195 pound frame should the Panthers decide to slot him at linebacker.

McKee was projected as a four-star early in the recruiting process before falling to the fringe between a three and four-star. Still, McKee brings an all around skill set that will make him a valuable addition for Pittsburgh. He pairs his deceptive speed for a defensive player with a physicality and aggressiveness that make him an all around threat on the field. The biggest positive on McKee however has been his value as a “locker room guy”. He has maturity beyond his years, and can be a team leader on defense.


The Panthers did what they could on the recruiting front, despite losing former head coach Paul Chryst mid way through the process. More will be expected from Narduzzi as he continues to bring stability to Pitt over the years. The first step will be contending with James Franklin and Penn State, who are currently dominating recruiting in the state of Pennsylvania. Despite finishing near the basement of the ACC in recruiting this year, Pitt did manage to add the top in state prospect, and a handful of other talented players. A good start for a program in flux.

Follow me on Twitter @GQuintero_84 and check out @InsideTheACC


Leave a Reply