Tonight, on KDKA, Central Catholic star defensive back Damar Hamlin announced he would be staying home to play for his hometown University of Pittsburgh Panthers over his other finalists of Ohio State University and Penn State University.
Damar is a consensus 4* and top 250 recruit by all the major recruiting services.
Damar Hamlin has been Pitt's pretty much #1 target since Pat Narduzzi got to Pitt last December. Despite Hamlin's own admitted lack of interest in Pitt when Paul Chryst was in charge that narrative changed almost immediately after Narduzzi was hired. He had offers from virtually everyone, including Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia Tech, UCLA, Miami, Michigan State, Auburn, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Stanford, Syracuse, Arizona State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, West Virginia and others.
Damar Hamlin followed the Jordan Whitehead model of recruiting in that he was extremely quiet on what way he was leaning and rarely mentioning leaders or doing many interviews at all. He took most of his visits before making his decision with Notre Dame during the season, then Ohio State, Penn State and finally Pitt in that order ending yesterday. He certainly used Twitter in a way Whitehead didn't, however. He knew how to tease the masses, and it certainly kept his recruitment interesting for those that followed it.
It's hard to overstate the importance of Damar's commitment. He is a stellar recruit that I think can make an impact very early at a position of need for Pitt. Does he start next year? I'm not THAT sure. Does he play next year? Definitely. That's just one half of the equation though. The other half is Hamlin is pretty much the symbol of what Narduzzi wants to do in Pittsburgh. He wants to keep the top flight talent home, and fend off anybody that tries to lead them elsewhere. He's not going to convince everyone to stay home as some kids simply don't want to. Damar Hamlin wants to, however. He's also proof Narduzzi can go to go with some of the best recruiters in the sport in James Franklin and Urban Meyer and beat them straight up. It helps that Hamlin is a recruit at the position Narduzzi has traditionally done very well with in his defense. He joins a couple of guys that have spurred others to stay home including Tyler Boyd and Jordan Whitehead. Boyd is off to the NFL early, and Jordan Whitehead had a phenomenal freshman season, so the chance for Hamlin to do great at Pitt is certainly there.
Hamlin joins a group of pretty impressive defensive back commits for Pitt that should shore up an area of weakness for Pitt pretty quickly. Hamlin is best friends with 2017 Pitt commit Paris Ford, and the two of them will take pleasure in convincing others to join them. It is not a bad time at all to be a Pitt Panther.