After a long wait, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi and the Panthers coaching staff landed the first member of their 2019 recruiting class on Sunday, when linebacker Leslie Smith announced his commitment to the program in a message posted on Twitter.
”After numerous hours of talking it over with my family and coaching staff, I’ve decided that I will be committing to the University of Pittsburgh,” Smith said in the message.
Smith will finish his high school career with Miami Northwestern Senior High School, which has a proud athletic history and collegiate and professional ties to Pittsburgh. Most notably, wide receiver Antonio Bryant and cornerback Torrie Cox came to Pitt from the high school, but it also produced current and former Pittsburgh Steelers like Artie Burns, Eli Rogers and Sean Spence.
The 6-foot, 195-pound linebacker does not currently hold a star rating from 247Sports or Rivals, but he drew 18 total offers during his recruitment. In addition to Pitt, Smith attracted the interest of Air Force, Colorado State, Kent State, Temple and USF and had additional offers from Ivy League schools like Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton.
During the 2017 season, Smith amassed 90 total tackles, including 52 solo tackles and 10.5 sacks, according to MaxPreps. He also chipped in an interception and a fumble recovery.
Pitt currently has 12 linebackers on its roster for the 2018 season. That total includes three redshirt sophomores, three redshirt juniors and three redshirt seniors. Narduzzi also signed Wendell Davis to his 2018 class, but other than that, he hasn’t made any notable moves at the position recently. So the addition of Smith should address a long-term need for Pitt.
With the news, fans of the Panthers can breathe a sigh of relief, as the program finally has its first commitment of the 2019 cycle. However, the fact that it came on June 10 is alarming, as Narduzzi had already landed six recruits by the same point in 2017, with the first three coming in May.
Given the slow start, the Pitt coaching staff will have to play some catch-up on the recruiting trail, and in an apparent effort to get started on that front, the staff offered local standout Dino Tomlin, a wide receiver from Shady Side Academy. Tomlin is a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports, and he also happens to be the son of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.