Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi and the Panthers coaching staff received some good news on Wednesday, as it was announced that Pitt safety Damar Hamlin was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA and will return as a member of the Pitt secondary in 2020.
Hamlin led Pitt in interceptions in 2018, with two, and ranked second on the team in tackles, with 76. He also recorded four pass break-ups, three tackles for losses and one fumble recovery. In 2019, he continued to contribute at an impressive clip, amassing 84 tackles, 10 pass break-ups, one pick, and 2.5 tackles for losses and distinguishing himself as a leader in one of the top defenses in the nation.
With Hamlin back, Pitt retains an elite pairing of safeties, as the 6’1”, 195-pound defensive back was highly effective alongside Paris Ford in 2019. The two Pittsburgh-area natives anchored a stout Panthers defense that ranked third in the nation in pass break-ups and 34th in overall pass defense in the country.
Thanks in part to the reliable play of Hamlin and Ford in the secondary, Pitt fielded its first top-15 defense of the Narduzzi era, allowing just 312.9 yards per game. The only two programs in the ACC to fare better than Pitt were Clemson and Miami. Now, with Hamlin and Ford returning, Pitt is in position to not only repeat the feat, but improve on 2019's results.