Wendell Davis brings linebacker depth to Pitt


Virginia native Wendell Davis was one of 17 players to sign National Letters of Intent to Pitt on Dec. 20. (Photo courtesy of Wendell Davis)

By Alex Lehmbeck, Staff Writer

When Wendell Davis committed to Pitt in June of 2017, the Panthers realized right away they had gotten a good one.

Head coach Pat Narduzzi tweeted his excitement fewer than 20 minutes later, with a hearty “PITT IS IT!! #L1TS8URGH #H2P #X2.”

The three-star prospect, according to rivals.com, is a 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker from Richmond, Virginia, and one of 17 players to sign their National Letters of Intent to Pittsburgh on Dec. 20. The selection of Pitt comes over some major offers, including Boston College, Duke, Michigan State and UCF.

“Davis is a playmaker on defense,” Michael Clark wrote for scout.com. “He is extremely athletic and very aggressive. Davis is instinctive and anticipates well. He is a very good pass rusher and also effective against the run.”

Davis’ play is characterized as relentless, and his choice in angles and speed are tactful.

“He plays fast, but under control,” Clark also added. “Overall, he has a high upside and chance to be an impact player at Pittsburgh.”

Davis’ abilities will add to a strong Pitt run defense already. The Panthers only allowed 142.4 yards per game last season, fifth in the ACC and 41st in the nation. Still, he emphasized the importance of the Panther’s defensive system being a strong fit for his play.

”They have athletes that can run and I run pretty well,” Davis said. “Pitt is known for blitzing and the defense I played in high school was a heavy blitz team.”

Davis will have plenty of competition for playing time to start his career. Redshirt junior Seun Ideowu is set to return as Pitt’s star outside linebacker in 2018 after leading the team in tackles and sacks in 2017.

The Panthers will also return Quintin Wirginis as their starting middle linebacker, after he missed his entire 2017 junior season with a suspension and season-ending wrist injury. Redshirt sophomore Saleem Brightwell will likely be the Panther’s next option, after finishing 2017 as the team’s second leading tackler while Wirginis was out.

This year’s Pitt squad failed to meet bowl eligibility for the first time since 2007, finishing 5-7. However, the Panthers were able to finish the year with an upset over second-ranked Miami, led by freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett. Davis is not worried about the future of the program.

“Youth was the only problem,” he said in regards to the Panthers’ last season. “The players played hard all year. We just had a young team, but we were really talented.”

Off the field, Davis hopes to pursue other feats. When he chose Pitt, academics played a major role in his decision. The University’s diverse academic paths stood out, particularly.

“[Pitt] has a lot of different majors that I could choose from,” he said. “I want to major in architecture. They have that major, and that’s what I’m interested in. I also liked the fact that it’s a big city, so there’s lots of things to do other than football.”