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Pitt tackle Michael Statham enters transfer portal

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Pitt at Tennessee Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pitt tackle Michael Statham entered the NCAA transfer portal on Monday, becoming the 11th Pitt player to do so since the start of the 2021 season. The move comes during an offseason in which the program got confirmation that all five of its starting offensive linemen from 2021 would return for the 2022 season.

Statham committed to Pitt on April 13, 2019, as a three-star offensive tackle out of St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. At the time, the 6’7”, 360-pound lineman was considered the No. 69 tackle in the nation and the No. 23 prospect in Maryland, according to Rivals, and he chose Pitt over nine other scholarship offers. His other Power Five offers came from Kansas, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Syracuse and West Virginia.

After arriving in Pittsburgh in 2020, Statham never saw the field for the Panthers during his two seasons with the program. And with the Pitt line set to return in 2022, it appeared as if Statham would once again be denied playing time in the upcoming season. Now, with Statham’s departure, Pitt will fail to return the largest lineman on its roster and a player whose size alone would have likely piqued the interest of NFL scouts, as he is larger than every offensive lineman on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster, other than Zach Banner, who is one inch taller than Statham at 6’8”.

With his entry into the transfer portal, Statham’s chances of playing at the Power Five level may have taken a hit, as six of the 10 players Pitt has lost to the portal since the start of the 2021 season have ended up at FCS programs. Of those 10, only two have landed at Power Five programs, and both of those players (Cam Bright and Wendell Davis) played in at least 25 games and logged multiple starts.

With that said, Statham should have no shortage of interest based on his size alone, but his best shot at increased playing time will likely involve a step down to the Group of Five or FCS level. And with the likes of Spencer Brown, Will Hernandez, Quinn Meinerz and Dillon Radunz all reaching the NFL from lower-level programs in recent years, a move down could pay off if it leads to playing time.