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Damar Hamlin the jewel of Pitt's 2016 recruiting class

Photo credit to Student Sports -

The verdict isn't fully out yet but Pitt looks to have a recruiting class that has a chance to be pretty special. Several four-star recruits dot the Panthers' group and arguably, none is bigger than Damar Hamlin.

Hamlin's commitment was big for several reasons. First, he's just a special player. Hamlin is a consensus four-star recruit among Scout, Rivals, 247, and ESPN. Those latter three sites all have him as a top 150 player nationally as well. His talent is well recognized by every major recruiting source.

Hamlin is also helping Pitt because he will help fill a position of need. The secondary play for the Panthers has been down for some time now. The unit got a big boost with the addition of true freshman (and ACC Rookie of the Year) Jordan Whitehead this past season, but still needed cornerback help. That's even more evident now that Pitt loses four-year starter Lafayette Pitts. Pitts was up and down during his time here, but even if you're not crazy about his ability, the fact is that he was one of the two best guys they had. Hamlin and a few others in this year's class give the Panthers a better chance to shut down opposing passing offenses.

Like Whitehead, Hamlin should have a very good chance at coming in and starting this season. It may not be right away - even Whitehead, after all, had to wait a few games before being the full-time starter. But Hamlin will have a chance to immediately make an impact at a position where the team needs help.

Another reason his addition was key is based on the programs that the Panthers beat for his services. I mentioned this earlier, but while beating Penn State out for him was nice, Pitt also came ahead of numerous heavyweights, including Auburn, Clemson, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and many other schools. Being the local option was certainly a huge factor, but as I said in Monday's post, location wasn't the only thing at play here. Plenty of top recruits have bolted the area and getting Hamlin to stick around was a big deal.

Along those lines, Hamlin's commitment was a very clear shot to the rest of the local recruits that wonder if big-time talent is interested in joining the program. The more players like him that the Panthers can land should help make things easier in terms of convincing other guys to come aboard down the line. I'm not sure it will provide an immediate snowball effect, but if Pitt is able to translate this into wins on the field, their chances of landing better talent increase even more.

Pitt landing Hamlin was a significant get for head coach Pat Narduzzi.

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