Never a dull moment 'round these parts, is it?
Pitt will have a new regime with new football head coach Pat Narduzzi taking the reins of the program. One person who won't be around to see it was one of Paul Chryst's biggest recruits - wide receiver Adonis Jennings.
Per numerous reports (I'm not sure who had it first), the highly-touted wideout is transferring out of the program. The Trib's Jerry DiPaola says he is not enrolled this semester.
Let's break this down a little bit.
Jennings came to Pitt as one of the team's bigger recruits. When he committed to the program last January, it was a big deal and seen as a significant boost to Chryst's class.
Landing Jennings wasn't only important because he was a four-star receiver - it was important because the Panthers had whiffed on a guy like Jamil Kamara. Getting one of the two seemed pretty necessary and they successfully wooed Jennings - in an announcement on national TV, no less.
It always seemed like Jennings would play as a true freshman and he did. Sort of, anyway.
Jennings got off to a slow start with a groin injury during training camp where he missed a ton of time. He then missed several games to start the season and it looked like he could be headed for a redshirt. Jennings, though, came in and made his debut against Akron in the fifth game of the year. He made no impact at all this season, catching six balls for 92 yards and no touchdowns.
I said it a few months ago and I stand by it - Jennings was utterly wasted this season. I know that the argument exists that getting him onto the field in a limited capacity was good, but I've always skewed away from that. I'd much rather have a player down the road when he's experienced than burn a year to play a guy as little as Chryst played him this season. It just makes no sense, really. You're trading a year of production when he will likely be significantly better for a year like the one he had this season on a team going nowhere.
Let's make one thing clear, though - I'm not blaming him a tad for that since the groin injury pushed him out of action and got him off to a slow start. It's just a shame Pitt used him at all when he could have had a full year of practice time to work on getting better before taking the field next year.
Why the Transfer?
So why the transfer? The Chryst move probably played at least a small part here. Whenever coaches leave, you see things like this happen. It should be noted, though, that Chris Peak says wide receivers coach Bobby Engram leaving the program actually was part of the reason. Engram actually recruited Jennings, so that seems to make sense.
I'm not sure if the way he was handled this year had anything to do with it or if there were other factors besides the coaches being shuffled. There weren't reported issues with him this season, so we're pretty much in the dark at this point.
Where's he Headed?
Again, big question mark. No one knows right now and unlike some other transfer cases where the destination is given right along with the news of the transfer, that isn't the case here.
One would think that Wisconsin could be a choice since that's where Chryst is, but that's nothing more than connecting two measly dots. Pitt famously blocked Rushel Shell from a transfer to Arizona State to join Todd Graham, but that was a special circumstance of a coach forcing his way out unexpectedly. Pitt doesn't hold the same ill will towards Chryst that we know of and I wouldn't be surprised if they allowed players to transfer to the Badgers.
It's also worth pointing out that his other two finalists at the time were Iowa and Arkansas. And other than looking at his slew of offers, it gets difficult to narrow things down much more right now.
The Impact on Pitt
Losing any four-star recruit isn't ideal - that's true in this case for a couple of reasons. First, Pitt just doesn't get many four-star kids, landing a handful in every class. The rankings aren't everything and there is plenty of talent to be found in the two- and three-star kids. But the fact is that he was a four-star player for a reason and the Panthers aren't in a position to lose the few they have.
In addition, Jennings is entirely too green right now to see his future. Losing a four-star kid as an upperclassman that didn't pan out is one thing. But to lose one when he still has a world of potential is difficult to swallow. Jennings isn't the next coming of Tyler Boyd, but other than that, we don't really have an idea of how good he can be.
At the end of the day, though, this is a manageable loss for Pitt. The Panthers not only have a gaggle of wide receivers at their disposal, but young ones. There are lots of question marks among them and none are a guarantee to be a great complement to Boyd next year. But neither was Jennings, to be honest, and with so many to pick from, you'd like to think that a couple will pan out. There's just a lot of depth in the wide receiving corps.
Somewhat along those lines, it's manageable because, as I pointed out, Jennings wasn't a star - at least not yet. This isn't like losing a guaranteed 1,000-yard receiver or taking a lot of production away. He wasn't able to contribute much last year, so Pitt isn't losing a lot in terms of 2014 production.
This hurts, but Pitt will live.