Pitt wideout Jon Baldwin started off on the right foot this season. Against Utah in the season opener, he had four catches for 71 yards and a 44-yard touchdown catch. The following week again New Hampshire, Baldwin registered six catches for 100 yards and a 56-yard touchdown.
Then things took a turn for the worse.
Baldwin had only five catches for a total of 40 yards and no trips to the end zone over the next two games. And worse still, there were fewer balls being thrown his way. Fans were anxious and there was talk that he needed to get going.
Head coach Dave Wannstedt said the problems were varied:
"Everybody assumes you just drop back, a guy runs deep and you throw the ball," head coach Dave Wannstedt said. "But you've got to have the right play call at the right time and the right coverage. Up to this point, we had plays in every game where we attempted to do that, and it had always been something. It was a little bit of protection, a little bit of coverage, a little bit of the throw, a little bit of the route."
Then as quickly as his production dropped, it picked back up again.
It started with a nine-catch, 111-yard performance at Notre Dame with a 56-yard TD catch and over the past three games, he's had 15 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns. But it's not just the 103 yard average - it's the big plays. Baldwin's had at least a 45-yard catch in each game and two have gone for touchdowns.
Even when he was practically shut out in the Syracuse game, his lone catch still went for 61-yards. Baldwin took a fairly short catch and ran like a gazelle. Big plays like that one are the reason Baldwin's headed to the NFL. He's been projected as a possible first-round pick and Mel Kiper currenly has him in his list of top 25 prospects (must be an Insider to view).
Baldwin's play is a bit reflective of Larry Fitzgerald. Don't get me wrong, Baldwin isn't Fitzgerald, who is one of the NFL's best receivers. But it's reflective of Fitz in that Pitt hasn't seen a wideout as talented as Baldwin since him. Baldwin is Pitt's best receiver of the past five years and figures to be the next great pro prospect to come out of the University.