Recruiting Roundup: A wealth of talented football commits for the Panthers

Pitt football’s class of 2020 is currently ranked 23rd in the country.

The Panthers had their best day in a while on Saturday, when six football recruits committed to Pitt’s football program. In total, 13 recruits have decided over the past two weekends that, indeed, “Pitt is it.” It hasn’t been all roses and sunshine for the school, though. Pitt lost out on its final basketball recruit, ending the finalization of the class of 2019 on a sour note.

Football

The Panthers have accumulated a vast amount of recruits in the past 10 days. Don’t let the large number fool you — so far, the Panthers’ class of 2020 has both quantity and quality. The class of 2020 is currently ranked 23rd in the country, ahead of rivals like Penn State, Texas and USC.

Five of these 13 recruits are from the state of Florida. Pitt has built a pipeline for recruits from Florida over the past few years, with Panthers like Daniel Carter, Rashad Weaver and V’Lique Carter all hailing from the Keystone State. Florida is rich with talent, and Pitt continuing to get recruits from there is a huge positive for the program. Weaver and V’Lique Carter have earned their keep for Pitt already, and Daniel is soon to earn his too.

Let’s start with those six recruits that committed on Saturday. The first of two four-star recruits Pitt landed on that day was wide receiver Aydin Henningham. He visited the school on Thursday and chose Pitt over the likes of Ohio State, Florida and Auburn.

Henningham brings two big assets with him to the program — his size and his location. Standing at 6-foot-1, he’ll be a red zone threat for the team in the future. Pitt has had talented receivers, but blending talent with size is what it needs in its offense.

Then there’s his home state. Henningham comes from Deerfield Beach, Florida, and landing a Floridian four-star commit will help Pitt build up that pipeline.

In fact, Pitt landed another four-star from down south — safety Jahvante Royal also hails from Florida. Royal is a 6-foot-3 safety who turned down offers from Florida State, Ohio State and Penn State.

Safety will be necessary for the team following the departure of starting defensive back Damar Hamlin at the end of this season, so Royal is a huge acquisition for Pitt. Royal will likely become the starting safety as a true freshman for the Panthers come the 2020-21 season.

After struggling to win top local recruits, Pitt has managed to land hometown product Dayon Hayes. The three-star defensive end visited the school four times, so it’s no big surprise he chose Pitt.

Hayes, ranked as the third-best defensive end in the state, is an enormous get for the program. He will be able to rush the opposing team’s quarterback in the future and hopefully will help lure other local talents to the school.

Along with Hayes, Timothy Brown is another three-star defensive end that will be coming to Pittsburgh in 2020. Brown isn’t as highly ranked as Hayes, but local schools Florida and Florida State had expressed interest in the Palm Beach Gardens native. 

Brown strengthens the Florida pipeline, and he has a knack for causing quarterbacks to throw poorly that will also help contribute to the team’s success when his time comes.

Jordan Addison, a three-star wide receiver with some serious speed, committed to Pitt over Notre Dame, Syracuse and Virginia. Addison is 6-foot and quite versatile. His ability to lineup at either wide receiver or cornerback will grant him more opportunities to see the field in the future.

These opportunities will likely come in handy on the offensive side of the ball, since the Panthers need a wide receiver more than a cornerback at the moment, but that’s not to say that Addison couldn’t play the latter one day.

The last Saturday commitment, three-star player AJ Roberts, is the tenth-ranked outside linebacker in New York. Roberts will provide the Panthers with defensive depth and could give the Panthers a future in with New York-area talent.

In addition to its Saturday gets, Pitt was able to snag a pair of dynamic, three-star running backs in Israel Abanikanda and Henry Parrish. Both players are undersized for the position, but have blazing speed to make up for their small statures.

Although Abanikanda is listed as an athlete, his primary position is running back. He is from Brooklyn, New York, so he and Roberts can help lure more prospects from the state to come to Pittsburgh. And Miamian Parrish might help build a trend of Florida running backs committing to the Panthers in the future.

Three-star defensive end Emmanuel Belgrave, also a Miami native, chose Pitt over Nebraska and Wake Forest. He provides quality depth at defensive end, but his size would suit him better at outside linebacker.

Building onto their future linebacker core, the Panthers landed three-star athlete Solomon DeShields. DeShields primarily plays outside linebacker, but could slide to the inside without an issue. Top schools like West Virginia, Michigan State and Oregon all missed out on DeShields’ talent. Fun fact — he attended the same high school as two-time AL MVP Mike Trout.

This extra long football segment of recruiting roundup ends with Pitt’s newly-landed trio of three-star defensive back recruits — Bangally Kamara, Hunter Sellers and Tee Denson. The former two players named are safeties while the latter two are from the state of Georgia.

Kamara visited Pittsburgh twice and chose the Panthers over schools such as Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. Standing at 6-foot-2, he’s standard safety size. Kamara’s size will translate into solid on-field production in the future.

Standing at 6-foot, Sellers is better suited to play free safety or even cornerback than he is for the safety position. Sellers held offers from programs like Michigan State and Wisconsin, so switching from either position shouldn’t be a problem for him.

Finally, there’s Denson, a lockdown cornerback that will be able to match up with the opposition’s best wide receiver and prevent them from having a breakout game.

Men’s basketball

The basketball side of recruiting’s class of 2019 yielded a disappointing conclusion this week. The Panthers failed to land three-star power forward Josaphat Bilau, their final target for the current class. Bilau ended up committing to Wichita State over Nevada, West Virginia and Wake Forest.

Pitt’s men’s basketball class of 2019 comes to a close ranked 50th in the country. This is down from last year’s 32nd ranking, but hopefully the Panthers will continue to climb up the rankings from here on out as the program develops.

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