Pitt is looking for some help to replace the production of former wide receiver Tyler Boyd, now in the NFL. While Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson have gotten some early publicity, one player hoping to get onto the field is true freshman Aaron Mathews.
Mathews was once a Penn State commit, but flipped to the Panthers last year before National Signing Day. Despite being a true freshman, he's already making an impact, according to head coach Pat Narduzzi.
When you look at Aaron Mathews, he’s a big, tall guy that can run. He goes up and gets the ball. He has been impressive. Maurice Ffrench has been impressive. Ruben Flowers III has done some good things. I would say Aaron Mathews has probably shown the most as far as being a deep ball threat. Maurice Ffrench is catching the ball out of the backfield well. Everyone matures at different levels, so I’m impressed with all of them. You look at [Tre] Tipton and Rafael Araujo-Lopes, those guys are just puppies; they’ve redshirted. They have a little bit further to go.”
“Go take a picture of him (Mathews). Just go and look at what he looks like down there. He’s a specimen, and we’re excited to work with him.”
So far, Tipton and Araujo-Lopes, are being beaten out by a trio of true freshmen, it seems, with Mathews leading the pack.
One thing to keep in mind here is that Narduzzi was speaking specifically to the newer guys that didn't play last year. This doesn't mean that Mathews is in line to beat out Henderson or Weah right now, but among the new guys, he is standing out and based on this, appears to be in for playing time right away.
Another thing worth pointing out is that wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman didn't really mention Mathews as a leader in the clubhouse among those guys; instead, saying that he, Flowers, and Ffrench are all making plays.
“I think they are working very hard right now. We are working with all three of them. Aaron Mathews, Ruben Flowers III, and Maurice Ffrench are making plays. They are doing it at different times, which is a good thing to see. They are stepping up and making plays that count when we need to make plays. They are all willing and able. Ruben [Flowers] made a big-time catch today. Aaron [Mathews] has made some plays and is a physical presence on the football field. Maurice is a guy that is very explosive and stepping up as well.”
In other words, even assuming Mathews does hold some sort of a lead between these guys, it's still very early in the process with the first week of camp just wrapping up. Still, if you take the comments of Narduzzi, it sounds as if he is in good shape to play this year as a true freshman.