Head coach Paul Chryst (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
We looked at the offensive side of the ball on Thursday. Now here are the defensive commits Pitt has so far.
Defensive Line: Myles Hilliard (DE/DT), Tyrique Jarrett (DT), Darryl Render (DE)
Pitt is losing some real talent along the defensive line. Chas Alecxih, Myles Caragein, Brandon Lindsey, and Justin Hargrove all graduate this year, meaning Pitt will have some serious talent to replace. Hilliard is the big recruit here. He will likely play at defensive end for Pitt. He's great at run defense, but doesn't quite have the build necessary for a defensive end. He could may start at tackle, but he's tall and lean, not something you would expect from a lineman. But he is a strong player and with the way Pitt has been producing defensive linemen, Hilliard is in a good position to succeed.
Jarrett, on the other hand, is a big kid. At 6'4", 334 lbs, you'd probably expect him to be an offensive lineman instead of a defensive one. As expected, he's strong, but surprisingly he can carry his weight well. His main problem is inconsistency. He has shown flashes of being a great player and with proper coaching, he can excel at the collegiate level.
Render is projected to play at end for Pitt, but, like Hilliard, is more of a run stopper than a pass rusher. At some point, he may slide inside, but he is a strong player who can be explosive off the ball and has shown decent pass rushing ability. His run defense is far ahead of his pass rushing.
This is a line full of run stoppers, which is nice. But Pitt is losing some solid pass rushing ability, particularly with Lindsey. I would like to see the team grab a solid pass rusher, but from looking around I don't know how likely that is for this year's class.
Linebacker: Alkwan Williams (OLB), Devon Porchia (OLB), Mike Caprara (OLB)
The linebackers squad is another unit where Pitt is losing a good number of players with Max Gruder, Greg Williams, and Tristan Roberts graduating. All three commits are projected to play outside linebacker, but it's possible some could switch to the inside. Williams is an athletic linebacker who fits well as an outside linebacker for Pitt. He is a good tackler who is, again, a good run defender, but also has diagnosing skills needed to defend the pass well. Williams does a good job a reading routes and getting into the throwing lane.
Porchia is another prospect with the size needed to be an outside linebacker. Like Williams, he is a solid tackler, but needs to add a little to his frame. He does well in both man and zone defense, but with a sold season in the weight room, he can be a solid player. He already has the motor and intensity, now he just needs the strength.
Caprara is the latest commit and from what I have gathered is very underrated. He has the work ethic and the motor, but schools were scared off by his size (6'0", 205 lbs). He has great instincts and diagnosing ability, but the main concerns are when he's up against a bigger blocker. Not that he can't beat them, but his size could hurt him. But if the fact that he's not as highly regarded worries you, remember some recent Pitt stars like Dion Lewis or Greg Romeus. Neither was highly regarded, but were two of Pitt's best players in the past few seasons.
Defensive Back: Marzett Geter (CB), Jevonte Pitts (SS), William Parks (S), Jahmahl Pardner (S)
Pitt loses some good players here in Antwuan Reed, Buddy Jackson, and Saheed Imoru. But I think with the players coming in and the transfers eligible next season, the secondary is going to be a good unit. It starts with Geter, who is a versatile player capable of playing on both sides of the ball as well as in the return game. He is a speedy, yet a bit undersized. But he has good anticipation and coverage abilities.
Pitts was originally a member of the 2011 recruiting class, but academics forced him to take the post-graduate route. But he is a hard-hitter and has quick reactions. Pitts will try to force fumbles with each hit. He is a bit undersized as well, but he has the motor and intensity needed for the position.
Parks is a versatile defensive back, capable of playing both corner and safety. He is an athletic prospect and his size (6'0", 175 lbs) allows him to match up more favorably with taller receivers. But he could stand to build his frame a bit, so a redshirt is possible. He is an aggressive defender in run and pass support and has good tracking ability as well. Pardner, like Parks, has the size necessary to cover taller receivers (6'0", 175 lbs). He can track the ball well also, and will put himself in position to make a play on the ball. But a redshirt season could help build up his frame a bit before he is ready to take the field.
Overall, I think Pitt's defensive commits are solid for this year's class. If anything, they could stand to pick up some CB commits. The name that sticks out to me is Jeannette recruit Demetrious Cox, although Pitt seems to be falling on his lists. Pitt fans should keep an eye on OLB Deaysean Rippy out of Mckees Rocks, who is a talented prospect at the position. A third name that also recently came up is Glenville, OH corner Sean Draper, who is favoring Iowa, but reportedly has recently received an offer from Pitt.