Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt football staff saw their work on the recruiting trail pay off on Thursday afternoon, as the program made the top six of Delfin Castillo, an offensive lineman at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. Pitt is included alongside Maryland, Michigan State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech in Castillo’s list of finalists.
The 6’5”, 340-pound lineman holds three-star ratings from Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN. In addition, he is considered one of the top 75 recruits at his position in the 2021 class. Rivals places him at 47th among tackles, 247Sports ranks him 60th at guard, and ESPN considers him the 71st-ranked tackle in the country.
Castillo’s top six was pared down from a list of nine offers, and the three teams no longer under consideration include Alabama, Buffalo and Liberty. Of the six remaining schools, only Maryland and Virginia Tech are closer to home than Pitt, which is about 250 miles away from Baltimore. In addition, should Castillo choose Pitt, a familiar face will be awaiting him, as former St. Frances lineman Michael Statham, Castillo’s former teammate, was a member of Pitt’s 2020 recruiting class.
Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple is attempting to replicate the offensive success he enjoyed as the head coach of UMass at Pitt, and a key aspect of that is recruiting capable linemen. Last year, Pitt’s offensive line was a liability that gave up 29 sacks and 76 tackles for losses. As a result, Pro Football Focus ranked the Pitt offensive line 94th out of the 130 FBS teams in the nation in 2019.
Adding some NFL-caliber size could go a long way toward addressing that issue, and Pitt is well on its way with recent additions like Michael Statham, who checks in at 6’7”, 340 pounds, and Terrence Enos, who is 6’5”, 314 pounds. If Pitt can add Castillo as well, the program may have the wherewithal to convert a weakness into a strength.