It seems like we go through this year year, so first, a precursor: IT IS EARLY AND FEBRUARY OF 2017 IS A LONG WAYS AWAY. That being said, when Pat Narduzzi finished off this past recruiting class, he did so with a bang. Pulling in Central Catholic's Damar Hamlin was a huge win for Pitt over a ton of blue-blood programs, including that school in the middle of PA. He also nailed a few other recruits like Aaron Matthews, Rashad Weaver, and Keyshon Camp and Panther fans responded with a ton of positive energy.
It doesn't stop with 2016, as the Panthers have already landed Paris Ford, who is one of the top players in the state, as well as two solid commits with Kyle Nunn and Exree Loe. Ford is a four-star recruit, while Nunn and Loe are both rated as three-star commits (this is all according to Rivals). Things seemed to be rolling along, but so far, some other big, and more importantly, local targets, did NOT pick Pitt. Some of them were shockers that came out of nowhere, like North Allegheny's Josh Lugg (committed to Notre Dame). Others, we knew Pitt was going to be in a dog fight for their services, but many felt like the Panthers would dig in a little more before losing out . It wasn't a shock when Central Catholic's CJ Thorpe picked Penn State. Despite Pitt having some positive energy in his recruitment, he is a PSU legacy.
Besides Thorpe though, Pitt also lost to Notre Dame on David Adams and Kurt Hinish, also from Central Catholic. Adams was a player that fit a position of need and also seemed to have a great relationship with the Panther coaching staff, so that was a little surprising. This is not what was expected after last year's finish. Luckily, there are still a lot of players, who would boost Pitt's recruiting in a big way. Some are local and some are national, who many felt would be a pipe dream, at first.
The locals are obvious with Lamont Wade and Donovan Jeter, among others. I still feel that Wade is going to be very hard to pull from other schools to stay home, but I feel better than I have at any point. I still think he ends up elsewhere, but Narduzzi is making some way with the Clairton product. I think most believe Jeter is Pitt's to lose (at least we hope so) and he plans to graduate in December possibly, making an earlier commitment a possibility.
It's not just at home, but Pitt also seems to have some chemistry with some big-time stars outside of the area. Bruce Judson seems to really enjoy the Panthers and the Florida native says he can't wait to come back in the summer. Despite Tyler Boyd's departure for the NFL, he also may have linked in Pitt with two of the biggest recruits to ever consider Oakland. Los Angeles wide-receivers Joseph Lewis and Jalen Hall (Hall is 2018) met Boyd out in LA and now Pitt is in the running for both. Will both be extremely hard to get to commit across the country? Yes, it will be tough, but these are things that also never happened in the past for Pitt fans.
When you consider everything, Narduzzi does seem to have lost a little momentum. But Pitt still has several big targets out there. The month of June is right around the corner and Pitt has always done well in that month in the recruiting process. We'll see if it lends more good news this year. The Panthers and their coaching staff could use some good news soon to offset the losses they have endured so far.