Since the end of the 2020 season, Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt coaching staff have been focused on building for the future, and their latest recruiting coup came on Monday afternoon, when coveted defensive tackle C.J. Doggette Jr. out of Pickerington Central High School in Ohio placed the program in his top six.
THE END IS NEAR ..— CJ Doggette Jr. ✞ (@dawggette) January 18, 2021
(RECRUITMENT 100% STILL OPEN) pic.twitter.com/qOKFF7RRfz
Joining Pitt in Doggette’s top six are Cincinnati, Michigan State, Rutgers, Washington State and West Virginia. That list came from an offer sheet with 13 programs represented, and the seven cuts included MAC outfits Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo and Kentucky of the SEC.
The 6’2”, 285-pound defensive tackle holds three-star ratings from 247Sports and Rivals. The former considers him the No. 48 defensive tackle in the 2022 class and the No. 19 recruit in Ohio, while the latter does not count him among the top 35 players at his position but ranks him as the No. 26 prospect in Ohio.
Last season, Doggette was part of a Pickerington Central team that went 11-1 and came one win short of a state title. Four of the team's 11 victories were shutouts, and there were only four occasions all year in which Doggette and the Tigers defense allowed their opponents to post a double-digit score.
“We’ve been blowing teams out, so I only been playing like a half,” Doggette told Bobby Deren of 247Sports last September. “I only played in one full game. But playoffs are coming up so I’m sure it’ll be tougher.”
That wasn’t quite the case, as Pickerington Central rolled through its first four games and was only tested in its final two outings. The results of those last two games were a 38-31 win over Mentor and a 44-3 loss to national powerhouse St. Xavier of Cincinnati. Still, it was a good year for Doggette, who worked on improving his play at defensive tackle.
“I played mostly defensive end [in 2019], but [in 2020] I’m playing more defensive tackle cause that’s where I’ll play in college,” he said. “I feel like I improved with my knowledge of the game. I study film more, so that helps me in the game. I feel more confident in my game also. I feel like I can’t be blocked one on one.”
At Pitt, Doggette could become the latest addition to a growing list of promising defensive linemen that already includes Elliot Donald, Dorien Ford and Dayon Hayes. With or without Doggette, that position group will look to build on the legacies of Patrick Jones II, Jaylen Twyman and Rashad Weaver, all of whom are headed to the NFL after coming to Pitt with three-star ratings or worse and exceeding the expectations of analysts.
As for Doggette, the three-star recruit is set to announce his commitment on March 6. Should he commit to Pitt, he would be the third 2022 recruit and the second 2022 defensive lineman to join the program.