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Ranking the 2017 Pitt football recruits

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Jim takes a stab at ranking all of the Panthers’ newest recruits

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Northwestern vs Pittsburgh William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2017 recruiting class now wrapped up, it’s now time to take a look at what Pitt has coming into the program. In this day and age, we have many assets to evaluate recruits. In these rankings, I will link each player’s recruiting profiles from the four major sites, along with a Hudl or highlight tape.

Look, I’m not a scout or a football coach. My rankings may be a bit off, but I still want to paint a picture of what this class looks like. Feel free to discuss in the comments. It’s an exciting class with a few guys I think can make an immediate impact. And enjoy this for now, the class of 2018 watch has officially started.

The four recruiting sites rank the class in the following order.

ESPN - 31st

24/7 - 33rd

Rivals - 37th

Scout - 42nd

24. Kirk Christodoulou

6’1” 210 Punter Melbourne, Australia

Best Offers - N/A

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Highlights Commitment Story

Kirk Christodoulou is a rare international recruit for the Pitt football program. He comes from Australia, and more specifically ProKick Australia. The ProKick Australia program develops punters and kickers and sends them to America. A number of players have made it here and succeeded. Christodoulou should redshirt this upcoming season with Ryan Winslow back for his senior season. Beyond that, he will be expected to be the full-time punter beginning in 2018.

23. Owen Drexel

6’3” 270 Center Montclair, New Jersey (Montclair)

Best Offers - Rutgers, Air Force, Florida Atlantic

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Owen Drexel committed to Pitt back in June. He earned an offer by performing well at one of Pitt’s prospect camps. Drexel was not heavily recruited, but he comes in at a position of need. He will likely work at center, and that tends to be a position that is not heavily focused on by scouring services. Pitt has taken some hits on the depth chart on the offensive line lately, so Drexel could very well find himself on the two-deep depth chart after a redshirt.

22. Grant Carrigan

6’7” 250 Tight End Gibsonia, PA (Pine-Richland)

Best Offers - Wake Forest, Kent State

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Grant Carrigan took a long path to get to Pitt. His high school career started at Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman. He then moved to Weirton, West Virginia before finishing his high school career at Pine-Richland High School in Pittsburgh. Carrigan is a giant tight end prospect standing at 6’7”, but some believe he could play offensive line or even on the defensive line with his versatility. Given Pitt’s lack of depth at tight end, he should stick there for now. He was not highly recruited, but Pitt needs bodies at tight end.

21. Albert Tucker

6’2” 200 Outside Linebacker Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Best Offers - Colorado, Kentucky, Colorado State

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Albert Tucker played for one of the best football programs in the country in his high school career. He was a member of the St. Thomas Aquinas Florida 7A state championship team this past season. The Panthers’ coaching staff actually found Tucker at a satellite camp back in the Summer and offered soon after. His recruiting profiles actually list Tucker as a defensive back, so he will need a year to add some muscle to play linebacker in the ACC. He will figure into Pitt’s “STAR” linebacker position, which focuses on speed and not so much size.

20. Darian Street

6’2” 170 Wide Receiver Bethlehem, PA (Easton)

Best Offers - Connecticut, Kent State, Army

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Darian Street is the younger brother of Pitt great receiver, Devin Street. Devin is second all-time in receptions in school history, so now we will see if the younger Street can live up to the expectations. Darian Street was a productive player for Easton High School in the Lehigh Valley during his prep career. He was not highly recruited, but I like his play-making ability more than most. He seems to glide with the ball in his hands, and makes some ridiculous catches as well. He will likely redshirt this season, but has the ability to find a role sometime after that.

19. Dontavius Butler

6’2” 200 Wide Receiver Plantation, Florida (American Heritage)

Best Offers - NC State, Temple, Toledo

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Dontavius Butler played for Florida powerhouse American Heritage High School. He finished this season with 23 receptions for 278 yards and four touchdowns this season while helping his team to the Florida 5A state championship. Butler’s lack of production is slightly concerning, but he looks the part physically. He should help add to the depth at wide receiver, and will likely take a redshirt this season.

18. Tyler Sear

6’5” 255 Tight End New Castle, Pennsylvania (Neshannock)

Best Offers - LSU, Temple, Cincinnati

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Tyler Sear was a team leader for nearby Neshannock High School in the WPIAL. He helped lead his team to the AA WPIAL title game before bowing out to fellow Pitt commit, Paris Ford and Steel Valley. Sear finished this season with 27 receptions for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was also a force on defense with 13 tackles for loss. He was once a Temple commitment, but a Pitt offer right before football season changed his mind. His strong play this season earned an offer from perennial power LSU, but he remained solid with Pitt throughout the process.

17. Jason Pinnock

6’1” 190 Cornerback Windsor, Connecticut (Windsor)

Best Offers - Boston College, Connecticut, Purdue

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Jason Pinnock committed to Pitt late in the process. He visited Pittsburgh the weekend of January 13 and committed a few days later. The Connecticut product was a long time Boston College commitment, but an offer from Pitt and some interest from Notre Dame made him reevaluate his college choice. He’s a taller corner, and was a productive player in high school with 7 interceptions this past season. He fits the mold of corner that Narduzzi seems to like.

16. Gabe Houy

6’6” 270 Offensive Linemen Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Upper St. Clair)

Best Offers - Louisville, Maryland, Wake Forest

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Gabe Houy is a local product from nearby Upper St. Clair High School. It’s the second straight year USC has sent an offensive linemen to Pitt, as Brandon Ford took a redshirt this past season. Houy is an athletic linemen, and you have to like he’s a member of his high school basketball team. He needs to bulk up however, and a redshirt seems necessary.

15. Carson Van Lynn

6’6” 235 Defensive End Columbus, Ohio (Kilbourne)

Best Offers - West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Carson Van Lynn is a big athlete from the Columbus area. Most schools and recruiting services have Van Lynn pegged as an offensive lineman, but Pitt recruited him as a defensive end. He is just one of two defensive ends in the class. Van Lynn has a very big frame and seems like his position might not be settled. He could play on either side of the ball, and the staff will likely figure out where they like him best during a redshirt season.

14. Cameron Bright

6’1” 210 Outside Linebacker Montgomery, Alabama (Park Crossing)

Best Offers - Bowling Green, Miami (Oh)

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

OK, I’ll admit I like Cameron Bright more than any recruiting website. He was a highly productive player this past season for Park Crossing High School in Alabama. He had 16.5 sacks and 23 tackles for loss. He’s fast and can hit hard, and I think he fits in well for Pitt’s “star” linebacker position. Bright is a rare recruit from Alabama, but he played his junior season in Ohio, and the staff knew him from there.

13. Deslin Alexandre

6’5” 230 Defensive End Deerfield Beach, Florida (Deerfield Beach)

Best Offers - NC State, Syracuse, Rutgers

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Deslin Alexandre enrolled already, and is getting a head start on his fellow 2017 recruits. He visited Pitt during a successful official visit weekend back on December 13, and all 9 recruits that visited that weekend ended up with Pitt. Alexandre was a one-time NC State recruit but flipped to Pitt after the visit. He’s a big defensive end from Florida with loads of potential. He needs to work on his speed however.

12. Kyle Nunn

6’3” 190 Linebacker Findlay, Ohio (Findlay)

Best Offers - West Virginia, Northwestern, Iowa State

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Kyle Nunn was one of Pitt’s longest standing commitments. He pledged during the Spring game of last year. Nunn is listed as a defensive back or an athlete by a lot of places, but the staff plans on using him as a linebacker. Nunn obviously needs to get stronger to play linebacker, but the athleticism is there.

11. Kenny Pickett

6’3” 190 Quarterback Oakhurt, New Jersey (Ocean Township)

Best Offers - North Carolina, Iowa, Boston College

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Pitt was able to hold on to Kenny Pickett without the benefit of an offensive coordinator. With a plan to enroll early and no offensive coordinator, conference rival North Carolina tried to swoop in and grab Pickett. Narduzzi was able to hold onto the quarterback prospect from New Jersey. Pitt initially flipped Pickett from Temple back in June after he visited Pitt for a camp. There is enough depth ahead of Pickett, so he should be able to redshirt this season and could compete for the starting job in 2018.

10. Michael Smith

6’2” 200 Wide Receiver Vero Beach, Florida (Vero Beach)

Best Offers - Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Washington State

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Michael Smith was a member of that successful visit weekend of December 9. He took his time, but eventually committed to Pitt. Smith caught 24 touchdowns this season for Vero Beach HS, and was one of the biggest breakout players in the state of Florida. His senior season garnered attention from a lot of schools late in the process. Most notably, Pitt was able to beat out Notre Dame for his services. Smith is a speedy down field threat. He could redshirt, but he has a chance to work his way onto the field this season.

9. Kam Carter

6’4” 300 Defensive Tackle Gaithersburg, Maryland (East Mississippi CC)

Best Offers - Texas, Texas A&M, Louisville

24/7 Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Kam Carter had a long road to Pitt. He started out at Penn State, but was dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules. He then went to East Mississippi Community College to play for a season before earning an offer from Pitt. EMCC was the school that was profiled in the Netflix series Last Chance U. Carter was a big recruit out of high school as a four-star recruit from Maryland. Pitt offered him back then as well. Given Pitt’s depth and inexperience at defensive tackle, he should have a chance to play a lot this season.

8. Damarri Mathis

5’11” 180 Cornerback Lakeland, Florida (Lakeland)

Best Offers - Ole Miss, South Carolina, Louisville

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Damarri Mathis was originally a South Carolina commit. He opened things up and after a Pitt visit, he made the call to join the class. Mathis is one of two players from Lakeland High School in the class with his teammate AJ Davis committing yesterday. Pitt had to fight off some SEC schools for Mathis’ services. He’s an athletic corner that has a lot of skill. Given Pitt’s biggest weakness last year was corner, you can’t rule out Mathis from competing for playing time right away.

7. Jaylen Twyman

6’2” 310 Defensive Tackle Washington, D.C. (Woodson)

Best Offers - Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Jaylen Twyman committed to Pitt weeks ago technically, but made it official yesterday on signing day. Twyman had a great offer sheet and is a talented defensive tackle. Pitt’s recruiting efforts on defensive tackle have been very impressive the past few seasons. Twyman probably has the luxury of redshirting this upcoming season, but he could push for playing time.

6. Jerry Drake Jr.

6’7” 310 Offensive Lineman Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (Palm Beach Gardens)

Best Offers - Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Jerry Drake was an off the radar recruit. Not due to his talent, but because it was a surprise name to hear. Drake is a massive offensive linemen from Florida with dozen or so offers. He wasn’t connected to Pitt until he visited, but he liked it enough to commit. Drake has a large frame for offensive line coach, John Peterson to work with, and my guess is he takes a redshirt this season.

5. Carter Warren

6’6” 320 Offensive Lineman Wayne, New Jersey (Passaic County Tech)

Best Offers - Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Carter Warren is a talented offensive line prospect from New Jersey. Like Drake, he is a massive player that should translate well to the college game. Warren had a ton of offers as well and he was a big recruiting win for Pitt. Actually, he committed when Pitt defeated Penn State, but revealed his commitment a month later.

4. Charles Reeves

6’5” 265 Tight End Steubenville, Ohio (Steubenville)

Best Offers - Alabama, Michigan, Penn State

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Charles Reeves was introduced yesterday at 280 pounds so he is a big kid. After watching his Hudl tape however, he moves incredibly well for his size and position. Reeves was used a lot out wide as a wide receiver in high school. He has great athleticism and hands. Reeves just has the look of a player that can be special. Given that Pitt only has one scholarship tight end returning, Reeves could play a lot this upcoming season.

3. Todd Sibley

5’10” 210 Running Back Akron, Ohio (Archbishop Hoban)

Best Offers - Ohio State, Michigan, Virginia,

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Todd Sibley is a prolific running back from Ohio powerhouse Archbishop Hoban. He was once an Ohio State commitment, but the Buckeyes chose to go in another direction. Their loss is Pitt’s gain for sure. Sibley went to the Under Armor All American game in Florida this year and scored a touchdown in the game. He is a member of the ESPN300 rankings, and is considered one of the best backs in the country. He joins a crowded depth chart at running back, but he has as good of a shot as any to win the starting job.

2. A.J. Davis

5’11” 193 Running Back Lakeland, Florida (Lakeland)

Best Offers - Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

AJ Davis was a nice late addition to Pitt’s recruiting class. He waited until yesterday and chose the Panthers on ESPN’s national signing day broadcast special. Davis is a talented back with offers from seemingly everywhere. Like Sibley, he went to the Under Armor All American game, and was highly ranked by all of the recruiting services. Davis seems to be a bit faster than the other backs on Pitt’s roster, and could find a role immediately.

1 Paris Ford

6’1” 175 Safety Munhall, Pennsylvania (Steel Valley)

Best Offers - Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State

24/7 ESPN Rivals Scout Hudl Commitment Story

Paris Ford committed to Pitt, his hometown team, back in October of 2015. Not only is he the most talented player in the class, he seems to be the leader of it for having been committed for so long. Ford never wavered or visited anywhere, despite rumors and pursuits from many top programs. Ford is one of the best high school players in the country and he held offers from just about everywhere. He led Steel Valley to a dominant undefeated state championship this past season, his team mercy ruled every one of their opponents. I’m not saying he will start at Free Safety next year, but I’m also not betting against it either. He’s that good.