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Pitt loses Brandon Mack to Ole Miss

The three-star defensive end recorded 10 sacks in his senior season

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt commit Brandon Mack announced on Dec. 20 that he had decided against joining the Panthers, and on Saturday, he revealed that he would be heading to Ole Miss instead. Mack shared the news in a video posted on Twitter.

The move keeps Mack closer to home, as Oxford, Mississippi, is within a five-hour drive of Montgomery, Alabama, where he recently wrapped up his senior season at Jefferson Davis High School. That ended up being an important factor in Mack’s final decision, as he told David Johnson of the Ole Miss Spirit.

”Ole Miss got on me early, around the end of my 10th-grade year, and I always liked the Rebels,” Mack said. “I was talking with my family, and it was neck and neck [between Ole Miss and Missouri]. But Ole Miss ended up pulling ahead when we talked more about it. ... It’s closer to home, too.”

”That made a huge difference, especially with my grandma,” Mack continued. “My grandmother is like my inspiration. Having me closer means they can make more games. That played a huge role.”

While Mack’s decision makes sense based on his desire to remain close to his family, it strips Pitt of a talented recruit who could have made an instant impact as a pass-rusher on a team that has struggled to get to opposing quarterbacks consistently. Specifically, the Panthers have ranked 47th and 79th in sacks over the past two seasons, and Mack was the most accomplished sack artist Pitt added.

The 6’4”, 240-pound defensive end is a consensus three-star recruit who held offers from at least 18 schools, including Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska and Tennessee. In his senior season, he recorded 68 tackles, including 18 tackles for losses and 10 sacks.

Mack is the third member of Pitt’s 2019 recruiting class to back off of their verbal commitment to the program and flip to another school, as three-star safety Khadry Jackson committed to North Carolina on Dec. 11 and junior college tight end Travis Koontz was then lost to Texas Tech on Dec. 16.

With that said, Mack was also one of five defensive ends to initially commit to Pitt in 2019, and the other four — Bam Brima, DeAndre Jules, Bryce Nelms and Nate Temple — have all signed their National Letters of Intent and joined the Panthers. So Mack's departure won't leave the team without incoming talent at the position, but it may well beg questions about what might have been.