Column | Looking back on Pitt’s ‘rental’ players


Hannah Wilson | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt tight end Lucas Krull (7) runs with the ball during Pitt’s game against UNC at Acrisure Field on Nov. 11, 2021.

By David Scott, Staff Writer

It’s around that time when Pitt students need to think about finding a place to rent for next year — reminding students of all of the one-year rental players that passed through Pitt sports programs. 

In professional sports, players who only have one year left on their contract are usually considered “rentals.” Since athletic departments can’t sign players to contracts in the NCAA, the quantity of rental players in college is slimmer. But with the new rules surrounding the transfer portal, that number is bound to go up.

A number of notable rentals have passed through Pitt’s doors. Here are a few of the most successful of the former rentals.

Steven Adams, Basketball

When a diehard Pitt fan hears the word rental, they probably think of Steven Adams. He spent one year with the Pitt basketball team in 2012, starting in all 32 games and making 57.1% of his shots. As a center, he averaged 7.2 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 2.0 blocks per game.

Adams’ performance led the Oklahoma City Thunder to draft him No. 12 overall in 2013. He spent seven seasons with the Thunder, averaging 9.8 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game and 1.0 blocks per game. Oklahoma City traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2020 before the Grizzlies acquired him from the Pelicans in 2021.

Marcus Carr, Basketball

Marcus Carr is the only example on this list of a player who didn’t spend their last year of college with Pitt. Carr actually spent his first season with Pitt basketball in 2017, starting in 27 games before transferring to the University of Minnesota. He spent two seasons with the Gophers before transferring again to the University of Texas in 2021. Carr is still with Texas heading into the 2022 season.

Carr grew as a player in his previous four years and it is likely that he will enter the 2023 NBA Draft. Losing him to the transfer portal was tough for Pitt.

Mouhamadou Gueye, Basketball

In May 2021, Mo Gueye hit the transfer portal, leaving Stony Brook University and ending up at Pitt. Upon making his move, Gueye started consistently for the Panthers. He set career highs in three point percentage, free throw percentage and average points at 36.4%, 77.0% and 9.8 points per game

While Gueye went undrafted after his career year at Pitt, he recently made the Dallas Mavericks’ G-League roster.

Kylan Johnson, Football

Kylan Johnson was a breakout player in 2019. He played three years with the Florida Gators before transferring to Pitt. In his single year with the Panthers, he racked up six and a half sacks and two forced fumbles — more than all three of his Florida years combined.

The Miami Dolphins signed Johnson in early 2021. But the Dolphins waived him later in the year, and he hasn’t signed with another team since.

Lucas Krull, Football

While Lucas Krull technically played two seasons with Pitt, he really only played one full season for the Panthers. Krull made the most of his only full season with the Panthers, playing a crucial role in the 2021 ACC championship team. He caught 38 passes for 451 yards and six touchdowns.

Krull was one of quarterback Kenny Pickett’s favorite targets, with his most iconic moment coming against North Carolina. With rain pouring down in overtime, Krull pulled in the game winning catch, producing maybe the most iconic moment of the season and moving Pitt to 8-2.

After the season, Krull went undrafted. But the New Orleans Saints signed him as an undrafted free agent this year. He has yet to see playing time, but remains on the team’s practice squad.

Tatem Levins, Baseball

After playing three seasons at La Salle, Tatem Levins transferred to Pitt to start at catcher on the 2021 baseball squad. He dominated the 2021 campaign, batting .321 with a .435 on base percentage and an astronomical .613 slugging percentage. For reference, Aaron Judge slugged .686 this year.

Levins’ monster year with the Panthers and three great years at La Salle culminated in the Seattle Mariners drafting him in the eighth round of the MLB Draft in 2022. That may sound low, but there are 20 rounds in the MLB draft. He hasn’t seen much playing time yet, but he owns a .467 batting average in his limited time in the Mariners’ farm system.