Pitt cornerback Damarri Mathis will miss the 2020 season after he suffered an injury that was not related to football, according to an announcement from Pitt on Tuesday. No other details about the injury were provided, nor was a timeline for Mathis’ recovery.
“We are certainly disappointed for Damarri,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “Fortunately, he still has a redshirt season available in addition to the eligibility relief the NCAA will provide this year.”
The 5’11”, 195-pound defensive back was a projected starter in 2020, as he played in each of Pitt’s 27 games over the last two seasons and started in 10 of the team’s 13 contests in 2019. Mathis also emerged as a top playmaker for the Panthers in a breakout campaign last year, as he was among the team leaders in pass breakups, with 11, and interceptions, with two. He ranked second on the team in both categories and was Pitt’s top returning pass defender with Dane Jackson gone.
With Mathis out, Marquis Williams will have an opportunity to compete for a starting role, as will A.J. Woods. Both have played in at least 10 games and are at the top of the pecking order behind Mathis and Pinnock, who is still expected to start. However, Pitt has several impressive incoming freshmen at cornerback, and Rashad Battle, Buddy Mack and Jahvonte Royal could compete for playing time too.
As Narduzzi noted, Mathis has yet to use a redshirt season, so his absence will not count against him. And when he is ready to return, Pinnock, who is a senior, will have expended his remaining eligibility, creating an opportunity for Mathis to regain his starting role in 2021.