Narduzzi rounds out staff for 2018 season


Pitt football defensive line coach Charlie Partridge was promoted to assistant head coach. (Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

By Trent Leonard | Staff Writer

Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi announced three coaching appointments Saturday, finalizing his 2018 staff.

Narduzzi promoted defensive line coach Charlie Partridge to assistant head coach, hired Cory Sanders as safeties coach and brought in Paris Johnson Sr. as assistant director of player personnel.

Partridge’s promotion comes just one year after he came to the program in 2017. However, this is not his first stint with the Panthers — Partridge was on the staff as a defensive line coach and special teams coordinator under head coaches Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt from 2003 to 2007.

Between his tenures at Pitt, Partridge worked as an assistant at Wisconsin, Arkansas and Florida Atlantic from 2008 to 2016.

“In only a year’s time, Charlie Partridge has made a tremendous impact on our program,” Narduzzi said in a press release the day of the hiring. “Charlie is universally respected for the type of leader, coach and person he is.”

In addition to his new responsibilities as assistant head coach, Patridge will continue to oversee the Panthers’ defensive line, which will return all four starters from last season.

In Sanders, Narduzzi saw a relentless recruiter and a coach with ambition, shown by his quick ascent through the tiers of college football coaching.

“Cory Sanders really impressed us during the interview process,” Narduzzi said. “We will be adding a young, up-and-coming coach who has outstanding football knowledge and really excels at teaching the fundamentals.”

A 2005 graduate of Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana, Sanders coached at his alma mater in the Division II ranks from 2010 to 2014, spending his first year as defensive coordinator and the next three as head coach.

He then moved on to become the first defensive coordinator at the University of West Florida, which played its inaugural season in 2016, before spending last season as defensive backs coach at Western Michigan.

Sanders’ hiring filled the 10th and final assistant coaching position.

Narduzzi’s appointment of Johnson as assistant director of player personnel fills the position left open by Da’Vell Winters, who elected to rejoin the Oregon football program a few weeks ago.

Johnson’s profile includes a successful college playing career and a short stint in the NFL. He played defensive back at North Iowa Community College before transferring to Miami University in Ohio, where he earned all-MAC honors as a senior in 1998.

The Arizona Cardinals selected Johnson as a first-round pick in 1999. After one season in Arizona, he also spent time as a practice squad player for the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys before leaving the league for a career in law enforcement in 2003.

Johnson came back to college football in 2012 and eventually crossed paths with Narduzzi at Michigan State University, where he worked under Narduzzi as a graduate recruiting assistant.

Johnson is also the father of one of the top high school linemen prospects in the nation — Paris Johnson Jr. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound offensive tackle is currently a sophomore at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Johnson Jr. has already received offers from top schools such as Clemson, Georgia and Penn State.

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