While Pitt enters next season with many options at wide receiver, only starter Tyler Boyd is a proven commodity. A few days ago, the Panthers got a little deeper at the position with the addition of JUCO wideout Rafael Araujo-Lopes.
Araujo-Lopes had a big season last year at Reedley College with 74 catches, 1,229 yards, and 17 touchdowns. He ranked first in yards and yards per game (122.9) in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) and was second in touchdowns and receptions. He had an absolutely huge game against Mercer with 12 catches for 228 yards and five scores.
There's a few good things about this pickup for head coach Pat Narduzzi. First, he brings quite a bit of playing experience - albeit on the JUCO level. Pitt is really hurting for guys with any type of on-field experience and he brings some of that. He also will be eligible to play immediately and won't need to sit out next year. And, oh yeah, as you can see on his HUDL footage, it looks like he can return kicks, too.
Then, there's the fact that he just gives the team another option. Dontez Ford was proclaimed as the team's No. 2 wide receiver in spring camp (for now), but the Panthers have another guy in the mix for playing time. In Pitt's case where they don't have a clear cut No. 2 receiver that's proven, the more the merrier. Competition is a great thing to have in this situation.
Lastly, he's not a short term fix. Araujo-Lopes has three years of eligibility left and even if he doesn't make a huge impact this season, he'll be around when the Panthers could presumably be without Tyler Boyd if he leaves for the NFL Draft after this year.
He's certainly a question mark of sorts and he'll face a whole new level of competition. But as a last-minute pickup, it's hard not to like taking a chance on him.
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