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Pitt Football Recruiting: Defense, defense, and more defense for Pat Narduzzi

Photo used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh athletics department -

When Paul Chryst came to Pitt, his recruiting MO was pretty easy to follow. His plan was to build up a thin offensive line, bring in running backs, and run the ball. Pitt has had a strong history of finding running backs, but his development of the offensive line was something to behold.

Just like Chryst had a plan, new coach Pat Narduzzi seems to have one - improve Pitt's defense.

It'd be kind of silly to suggest that Narduzzi is going to be all defense all the time simply because his first three recruits have all been on the defensive side of the ball. After all, it's not that the coaches aren't pursuing offensive talent - they've just happened to get defensive guys. And as Chryst quickly found out, without landing top talent on both sides of the ball, it's virtually impossible to compete. So trust me, Narduzzi will grab his fair share of offensive players down the line.

Narduzzi is at least pretty determined, though, to begin the task of improving Pitt's frustrating defense. First, he bolstered the secondary by picking up three-star safety Jay Stocker. Shortly after that, came a commitment from linebacker Shawn Curtis. On Friday, Pitt made a huge pickup in linebacker Anthony McKee.

One key thing in all of those cases is that the Panthers landed players at positions where they are losing guys. At safety, Ray Vinopal moves on and the team will need to start someone opposite Terrish Webb, who presumably, will start again. At linebacker, the Panthers lose both Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez. And while Matt Galambos returns in the middle, I'm not sure it's a lock he starts. Conceivably, the Panthers could be playing with an entirely new corps of starting linebackers.

What's more is that the recruiting class now is far more balanced. A few months ago, Pitt was offense heavy for the 2015 class as Chryst and company struggled to land many defensive pieces around Jordan Whitehead. Now, the class is practically a 50/50 split with seven offensive players (assuming Dane Jackson plays on offense) and six defensive players.

One thing I think we'll all be watching is to see what the makeup of future classes is. The bulk of the talent Chryst landed was on offense and while we assume Narduzzi will be able to recruit well defensively, it will be interesting to see if he is able to land offensive stars.

For now, though, Narduzzi (as he should be) has focused his attentions to the defensive side of the ball.

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