Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt coaching staff gave their 2021 recruiting class a significant boost in the national rankings on Friday, as they landed a commitment from Central Catholic defensive lineman Elliot Donald. The local lineman is the nephew of Pitt great Aaron Donald and one of the top 85 prospects in the country. Pitt moves from No. 35 to No. 25 in the Rivals ranking with the addition of the blue-chip recruit.
Donald chose Pitt from a top eight that also included Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas A&M, West Virginia and defending national champion LSU. That top eight was released last August, and Donald has mulled over his decision for nearly a year. However, Pitt always appeared to be in good standing with the WPIAL star, as he visited campus five times since the start of 2019 and was widely believed to be his top option.
The 6’3”, 255-pound prospect is a consensus four-star recruit. The only disagreement among recruiting websites over Donald is where exactly he ranks among the top 125 high school seniors in the nation. Rivals places him at No. 82 nationally, and ESPN places him at No. 85. The only dissenting opinion comes from the 247Sports composite, where he is ranked No. 116. Rivals and ESPN both rank him among the top 10 Pennsylvania prospects and the top 10 at his position. The analysts at 247Sports concur on the in-state ranking and consider him the No. 16 defensive tackle.
In his sophomore and junior seasons at Central Catholic High School, which is just down the street from Pitt’s campus on Fifth Avenue, Donald amassed 25 tackles for losses, 15.5 sacks and four forced fumbles on a Vikings team that went 19-6 over the last two seasons and had a 12-2 record in 2019.
At Pitt, Donald will join a budding defensive juggernaut that is currently fronted by All-American Jaylen Twyman. Alongside Twyman on the Pitt defensive line where Donald will one day play are All-ACC defensive end Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver, both of whom have the potential to move on to the NFL.
Donald, who is described by 247Sports as an “explosive” and “relentless” defender with the ideal frame for an edge rusher, may well take over for Jones or Weaver in 2021 and could possibly play alongside Twyman for a year. But he will more likely combine with up-and-coming defensive end Habakkuk Baldonado and fellow Pittsburgh-area blue chip Nahki Johnson, a linebacker out of West Mifflin, to form the core of Pitt’s defense of the future.