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Phil Steele places four Pitt Panthers on preseason All-America teams

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Duke James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Pitt Panthers have become a fixture on preseason All-America lists, and that trend continued on Thursday, as Phil Steele named four Panthers preseason All-Americans. Once again, the Pitt defense was the primary focus of the adulation, as Paris Ford, Patrick Jones II, Jimmy Morrissey and Jaylen Twyman were the Pitt standouts honored with selections, with Morrissey as the lone offensive pick.

Ford and Twyman, who have both been pegged as preseason All-Americans by multiple outlets, were first-team selections on Ford’s list. Meanwhile, Jones was a second-team selection, and Morrissey was included on Steele’s fourth All-America team.

Twyman enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 and earned second-team All-America and first-team All-ACC honors for his efforts. The defensive lineman had a team-high 10.5 sacks and 12 tackles for losses. Jones was right behind Twyman, with 8.5 sacks, and tied for the team lead with 12 tackles for losses.

Ford proved to be an effective complement to Jones, Twyman and Pitt’s front line in the defensive backfield, as he led the team with three interceptions and 97 tackles. Ford also earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2019, alongside Twyman and Morrissey.

As for Morrissey, he was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise ineffectual Pitt offense, as he combined with Panthers guard Bryce Hargrove to form a brick wall for Kenny Pickett in the middle of the offensive line. Morrissey allowed zero sacks, and Hargrove gave up just one. But the blockers on the edges proved far less reliable, hindering the offense overall.

At this point, the 2020 season is in jeopardy due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as some lower-level leagues, such as the CAA and PSAC, have announced fall sports cancellations and delays due to safety concerns. However, if the Panthers get the chance to take the field, they could have their most impressive group in years.