Pitt safety Paris Ford was one of several players from the vaunted Panthers defense considering entering the 2020 NFL draft, but on Monday, he announced that he would remain at Pitt for his redshirt junior season.
Ford had a breakout year in 2019, as he led the Panthers in tackles and interceptions, with 90 and three, respectively. He also ranked among the top five players on the team in pass breakups and forced fumbles, with nine and three. Two of Ford’s picks came in Pitt’s 33-30 win over Duke, and the Pittsburgh native returned one 26 yards for a touchdown.
Losing Ford early would have been a crushing blow for Pitt, as the team is already expected to lose Damar Hamlin, its second-most productive defensive back, to graduation. However, Pitt is petitioning for a fifth year of eligibility for Hamlin, per Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, so the defense could remain largely intact if all goes according to plan.
Ford was one of three major contributors on the Panthers defense to publicly mull entry into the NFL draft pool, with the others being Pitt defensive linemen Jaylen Twyman and Patrick Jones II. Twyman and Jones both recently announced that they would return for the 2020 season as well.