Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi and his staff got their third commitment of the 2020 recruiting cycle on Saturday, as Jaylon Barden, a wide receiver out of Westside High School in Macon, Georgia, announced that he would be continuing his academic and athletic career at Pitt. The Peach State wideout is Narduzzi’s third addition to his 2020 class
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank my family for sacrificing and being with me throughout this recruiting process,” Barden wrote in a message posted on Twitter. “After a long process of this recruiting, I have talked to my family, [and] I’m glad to announce that I am 150 percent committed to the University of Pittsburgh.”
The 6’0”, 175-pound receiver is considered a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals. During his recruitment, he drew offers from at least 16 schools and chose Pitt over the likes of Army, Colorado State, Indiana, Kentucky, Navy and Old Dominion, among others.
Barden was coveted for his speed, and ESPN noted that he logged a 4.65 40-yard dash. He also put his athleticism, quickness and hands on display at The Opening earlier this year, demonstrating what he brings to the table for what will likely be an increasingly pass-oriented Pitt offense under recently hired offensive coordinator Mark Whipple.
Whipple appears to have played an important role in Barden’s decision to come to Pitt, as the wideout brought up the former UMass head coach ahead of a recent visit to Pittsburgh.
“Pitt likes me both as a person and as a player,” Barden told Mike Vukovcan of Pittsburgh Sports Now on March 28. “Plus, their new offensive coordinator, he’s texted me and said he wants me to be the leading receiver in the nation if I would commit there. That made me feel good.”
During Barden’s senior season at Westside High School, he reeled in 42 catches for 760 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 18.1 yards per catch and helping his team to an 8-4 record. He wasn’t as prolific in his junior season, but he still amassed 619 yards and five touchdowns on 32 catches, boasting a more robust 19.3 yards per catch and scoring on a 45-yard punt return.
Given his ability to quickly get down the field, Barden is likely to figure prominently into Whipple’s offense, and it appears he has the potential to contribute as a return man as well. While Barden is unlikely to play a key role on the team immediately, it’s clear he has a lot to offer the Panthers and will be someone worth keeping an eye on in the coming years.