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Pitt makes top eight of four-star recruit Paul Hutson III

The defensive tackle was a standout on an 8-0 IMG Academy team in 2020

North Carolina State v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Paul Hutson III, a promising defensive tackle out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, released his top eight on Thursday, and Pitt made his list of finalists along with Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Liberty, Maryland, Old Dominion, Toledo and Virginia Tech.

The 6’1”, 290-pound defensive lineman hails from Norfolk, Virginia, and played for Maury High School before transferring to IMG Academy in 2020. Hutson holds a four-star rating from ESPN as well as a spot in the ESPN 300 for 2022. But Rivals and 247Sports both consider him a three-star recruit.

Hutson chose his eight finalists from an offer sheet with 12 programs represented. The four programs that did not make the cut for the prospect include Charlotte, East Carolina, Southern Mississippi and William and Mary.

As a junior at IMG Academy, Hutson played in five games for a team that went 8-0 and was crowned the 2020 national champion. In those five games, he came up with 18 tackles, including one tackle for a loss, and two pass breakups. However, he was more productive as a sophomore, when he led Maury to a 15-0 record as a two-way player and team captain. In that season, he had 27 tackles, including three sacks and three tackles for losses. Hutson also broke up a pass, forced one fumble and recovered one fumble.

Pitt has recruited well in both Florida and Virginia, which could put the program in a strong position to land Hutson. In fact, its 2021 recruiting class included four Virginia natives, including two from Norfolk, and three recruits out of schools in Florida, including former IMG tight end Jake Renda. And between 2016 and 2020, Pitt never brought in fewer than four recruits from the Sunshine State in a class.

In addition, Pitt is coming off a season in which its defense led the nation in tackles for losses and sacks, with 111 and 46, respectively. And its defensive line, led by Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones, was instrumental in its success. So the program has much to offer a recruit like Hutson, especially considering that Weaver and Jones are expected to head to the NFL and the Pitt defense will be replenished by elite recruits from the 2020 and 2021 classes.

With that said, 247Sports considers Virginia Tech the frontrunner for Hutson at the moment, so Pitt may be facing an uphill climb in his recruitment. But Pitt should have a strong pitch for Hutson at the least, especially compared to that of the Justin Fuente-led program that has posted two losing seasons in the past three years. And with Hutson yet to set a decision date, Pat Narduzzi and his staff will likely have a few months to sway the promising recruit.