Pitt linebacker Anthony McKee opted out of what would have been his fifth year with the program, as he graduated and will not return for the 2019 season. Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi announced the roster move on Thursday morning after a team workout.
“A little disappointing because I think Anthony had potential to be pretty good, but you know, you’ve got to want it [in your heart],” Narduzzi said, according to Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You’ve got to want to have another year of it. But Anthony will graduate, and I’m happy for him.”
McKee came to Pitt as a three-star recruit out of Marion-Franklin High School in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, ESPN and Scout considered him one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation. However, he rarely saw the field with the Panthers and finished his career with 16 tackles and one sack over a span of 10 games.
With three-year starter Oluwaseun Idowu no longer on the roster, McKee was expected to contend for a starting role on the team. In 2018, he served as the reserve "star” linebacker behind Idowu, but he was expected to face competition for the job from Cam Bright. It also sounds as if Phil Campbell could earn himself some regular playing time now that McKee is no longer in the mix at linebacker.
“We’re toying with stuff. Obviously, [McKee] wasn’t a starter, but we’re going to mess with Phil Campbell in some of that role,” Narduzzi said. “We think Cam Bright’s going to be pretty good there, too. But it would’ve been nice to have a three-man competition out there.”
The roster move was somewhat expected, as the recent addition of former Rutgers tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart meant that a member of the team or an incoming recruit would be forced to leave the team. However, exactly who it would be was unclear until Thursday.