Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi and his staff got a key commitment on Tuesday, as Rutgers graduate transfer Nakia Griffin-Stewart announced he would be joining the Panthers for the 2019 season. The former Scarlet Knights tight end revealed his decision in a message posted on Twitter.
The 6’5”, 255-pound tight end held a three-star rating on the 247Sports composite when he committed to Rutgers in 2015. At the time, he had drawn offers from UConn and Louisville as well but opted to stay closer to his hometown of Tenafly, New Jersey. Both ESPN and Rivals considered Griffin-Stewart one of the top 25 tight ends in the nation during his recruitment.
At Pitt, Griffin-Stewart could see action immediately as one of the most experienced members of a thin position group. Currently, Pitt has a six-man tight end corps, but only Will Gragg and Grant Carrigan are natural tight ends. Jim Medure shifted to the position after joining the team as a linebacker, Kaymar Mimes was originally a defensive end, Carson Van Lynn is a converted offensive tackle and Jake Zilinskas switched from quarterback.
During his time at Rutgers, Griffin-Stewart played in 25 games and started in five. However, he was seldom utilized as a pass-catcher by the Scarlet Knights, as he had just 13 receptions for 97 yards and one touchdown. With that said, he has proven capable of filling that role in the past, as he racked up 509 yards and three touchdowns on 52 receptions during his high school career. He also has a reputation as a dominant blocker, as he once recorded four pancake blocks in one game at Tenafly.
Pitt has had success luring underused tight ends away from Ruthers in the past, as Narduzzi convinced Matt Flanagan to ditch New Brunswick for Pittsburgh ahead of the 2017 season. Flanagan then went on to roughly double his output in terms of receptions and receiving yards and is currently on the roster of the Washington Redskins.
Griffin-Stewart has one year of eligibility remaining and will be able to play upon his arrival as a graduate transfer. However, with the New Jersey tight end now in the fold, Pitt has exceeded its scholarship limit, meaning one incoming recruit or member of the team will be forced to leave the program.