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C.J. Dippre passes on Pitt, commits to Maryland

With Pitt thin at tight end, other targets at the position will likely be pursued

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 26 Quick Lane Bowl - Pitt v Eastern Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pitt football staff had a productive weekend, as it landed a transfer on Saturday and brought in three recruits on Sunday. But the program missed out on one in-state target at a key position, as C.J. Dippre, a tight end at Lakeland High School in Jermyn, Pennsylvania, announced his commitment to Maryland.

“Blessed and honored from all,” Dippre said in a message posted on Twitter. “Please respect and support my decision. I am 100 percent committed to the University of Maryland.”

Pitt made Dippre’s top seven on April 18, along with Boston College, Kentucky, Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia, meaning the school was the only in-state institution that was in the running for the recruit. However, despite its status as an in-state school, Pitt was at a geographic disadvantage, as it was actually farther away from Jermyn than all but two schools in Dippre’s top seven. So by choosing Maryland over Pitt, he shortened his trip from home to school by about 50 miles.

In addition, Dippre may well have secured himself playing time by choosing to commit to the ailing Terps, as the team’s most productive tight end, Chigoziem Okonkwo, only managed to accrue 201 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. However, that was due in part to issues at quarterback, as Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson was only able to complete 47.3 percent of his 207 passes for 1,274 yards last season. So Maryland, which has posted a winning record just once since joining the Big Ten in 2014, will have to work out some offensive issues to get the most out of both Dippre and Jackson.

Dippre held three-star ratings from 247Sports and Rivals, and he would have addressed a position of need at Pitt, as the team has failed to get much out of the tight end position over the last few years. Last season, Pitt’s top tight end was Rutgers graduate transfer Nakia Griffin-Stewart, and he came up with 185 yards and one touchdown on 19 receptions. While those numbers were not team bests, they marked career highs for Griffin-Stewart and outdid the team’s three active 2018 tight ends, who combined for 69 yards over the course of the entire season.

Given that the team failed to land Dippre, lost Griffin-Stewart to graduation and will lose Lucas Krull to graduation after the 2020 season, Pitt will likely continue its search for a tight end. One tight end recruit to watch is Lake McRee, who decommitted from Texas on Feb. 11. McRee is a teammate of Pitt commit Nate Yarnell, and Pitt offered him last week. Another is Bennett Pitcher out of Deerfield, Massachusetts, who Pitt offered last June. Both hold four-star ratings from at least one outlet and could be solid additions.