Former Pitt defensive lineman Shakir Soto was drafted by the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL on Wednesday. The team chose Soto with the eighth pick in the 24th round of the 2022 USFL draft one day after taking former Pitt defensive end James Folston Jr. The two were the only Pitt alums chosen in the draft.
Soto played at Pitt from 2013 to 2016, and during his time with the Panthers, he saw action immediately as a true freshman and then became a regular starter as a sophomore. However, Pitt’s switch from Paul Chryst to Pat Narduzzi saw Soto stripped of his role as a regular starter during his junior year before he reclaimed a starting job as a senior in 2016.
At Pitt, Soto played in 52 games and made 29 starts, and in that span, the 6’3”, 290-pound defensive lineman came up with 120 tackles, 18 tackles for losses, 7.5 sacks, one pass breakup and one blocked kick. He also had a few memorable moments in the blue and gold, as he came up with a sack in the first start of his Pitt career, which came in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl win over Bowling Green in 2013. His blocked kick was also the difference in Pitt’s 31-28 win over Georgia Tech in 2015.
Since moving on from Pitt after the 2016 season, Soto has had stints with the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, and Seattle Seahawks of the NFL; the San Diego Fleet of the AAF; and the BC Lions of the CFL. His greatest professional success came during his brief stay in San Diego, where he logged 12 tackles, four sacks, six QB hits and four tackles for losses in eight games.
With the Breakers, Soto will get the chance to play alongside James Folston Jr., a former teammate who played on Pitt’s defensive line from 2014 to 2018. Soto will also play under former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, whose Tar Heels teams he faced four times during his Pitt career, going 0-4.
The 2022 USFL season will get underway on April 16. However, the Breakers’ schedule has yet to be released, and the only game that is currently set is the season opener, which will feature the Birmingham Stallions and the New Jersey Generals facing off in Birmingham.