Pat Narduzzi gave us an exciting start to our Monday morning, but left us guessing most of the day. By the product of deductive reasoning, Pitt fans narrowed it down to a few candidates on who this commitment could be. As it turned out, it was Penn State pledge, Aaron Mathews. He was in attendance last night for the Pitt basketball game, and things obviously moved rather quickly for him to flip from one in-state school to another.
As you all well know, Mathews is from Clairton High School, a pretty important pipeline for the Pitt program. He was a long time Pitt target, and one that many considered a Pitt lean for some time, but a Penn state offer last month led to him committing to the Nittany Lions. A few chain reaction moments had to happen in recent days for this flip to become possible.
First off, Pitt's four-star receiver commitment Juwann Winfree, de-committed this afternoon. Although, Winfree was removed from Pitt's commitment list on the recruiting sites yesterday. Nobody knows the exact story there, but obviously something happened on his end or Pitt's side. However it went down, it left a void for Pitt at receiver. Initially Pitt wanted Mathews as a receiver but they changed their tune and it was speculated they wanted him to play defense. Penn State swooped in and he committed rather quickly after being offered. With Winfree out of the picture, an apparent chance to play receiver became available to Mathews, which he obviously jumped at rather quickly.
Mathews is a three-star prospect that is considered the 14th best player in the state by Rivals.com. He chose Pitt over the likes of Penn State, West Virginia, and NC State, among a number of other offers. It should be noted he was offered by NC State when Matt Canada was the Offensive Coordinator there, so there were multiple connections to this staff for Mathews.
As I have mentioned, this is a flip. Pitt took one of Penn State's commitments at the last minute and switched him to being a Pitt commitment. It is significant as Pitt looks to close the gap with the Nittany Lions on the recruiting trail. We all recall last year how Penn State switched guys like Kevin Givens and Nick Bowers late in the game, and won direct recruiting battles with prospects like Shareef Miller and Johnny Petrishen. A year later, Pitt manged to flip a PSU recruit late in the process, a real sign of Narduzzi's progress in just a year's time. Pitt also has a handful of commitments with Penn State offers, as opposed to having just one (Jordan Whitehead) last season.
Obviously landing Mathews to replace Winfree was a needed action for a number of reasons. It is about keeping another WPIAL kid at home, beating Penn State directly for a recruit, and filling a position of need. This is a big way to start the final three days of the recruiting season. Tonight is the big one, though, with four-star Damar Hamlin committing to either Pitt, Penn State, or Ohio State.