Pitt was one of the schools in the mix for Virginia transfer Ja’Quay Hubbard, a 6’5”, 335-pound offensive tackle from Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. However, on Monday, he announced his commitment to one of Pitt’s most notable rivals, West Virginia.
“Thank you to [West Virginia head coach Neal Brown] and [West Virginia offensive line coach Matt Moore] for the opportunity to further my education and be a part of the climb,” Hubbard wrote in a message posted on Twitter. “Committed. [WVU football] let’s go!”
During his recruitment, the lineman was considered a four-star prospect by Rivals and a three-star recruit by 247Sports and ESPN. Prior to his commitment to Virginia on Sept. 1, 2018, he received scholarship offers from Pitt and several other schools. However, West Virginia, which was then coached by Dana Holgorsen, had declined to offer Hubbard.
In Morgantown, Hubbard will indeed be part of a steep climb back to relevance, as the Mountaineers went 5-7 last season and 3-6 in the Big 12 during the program’s first year under Brown. The 3-6 mark was West Virginia's fourth losing record in the Big 12 since it joined the conference eight years ago, and in 2019, only Texas Tech and Kansas fared worse.
As for Pitt, there is no doubt that Pat Narduzzi and his staff would have jumped at the chance to add Hubbard, as Pitt’s offensive tackles have been lackluster in recent years. Last season, Pro Football Focus ranked the Panthers’ tackles 126th out of 130 in the FBS, and Pitt will return one half of that position group in Carter Warren next season. And starting at the other tackle position will likely be Hampton graduate transfer Keldrick Wilson.
Landing Hubbard would have given Pitt an opportunity to develop some continuity at the tackle position, as Hubbard has four years of eligibility left after redshirting in 2019. When Hubbard will be eligible to play has yet to be determined, but for Pitt, that start date would have signified light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the revolving door of graduate transfers it has established at tackle.
The program is entering its third straight year relying on a graduate transfer at the position, as Michigan graduate transfer Nolan Ulizio filled the role in 2019, and Kent State graduate transfer Stefano Millin claimed a starting tackle job ahead of the 2018 season.