The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
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Pitt football continues to take advantage of western PA talent

From+left%2C+former+Pitt+defensive+back+Brandon+Hill+%289%29%2C+redshirt+senior+defensive+lineman+David+Green+%282%29%2C+former+linebacker+SirVocea+Dennis+%287%29+and+former+wide+receiver+Myles+Alston+%2820%29+run+down+the+field+during+their+game+against+Clemson+at+Acrisure+Stadium+on+Oct.+23%2C+2021.
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
From left, former Pitt defensive back Brandon Hill (9), redshirt senior defensive lineman David Green (2), former linebacker SirVocea Dennis (7) and former wide receiver Myles Alston (20) run down the field during their game against Clemson at Acrisure Stadium on Oct. 23, 2021.

It’s no secret that Pitt football heavily recruits in their own backyard, benefiting from the overload of talent in western Pennsylvania. Due to Pitt’s success the last few years, many Pittsburgh natives chose to stay close to home.

Here are the top Panthers from the western Pennsylvania area. 

Redshirt senior defensive lineman David Green 

Green — one of Pitt’s 2023 captains and a leader of the team on and off the field — is one of the best Pennsylvania products in college football right now. 

The West Mifflin native was a three-year starter for Central Catholic High School and won two WPIAL championships and a PIAA title with the Vikings. Green was also named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Fabulous 22 his senior year in high school. The redshirt defensive lineman chose to remain in the Oakland area for the foreseeable future when he committed to Pitt in 2018. 

Green made seven starts in 2022, where he racked up 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. His biggest play came against Duke as he forced a fumble that led to a touchdown and eventual 28-26 victory over the Blue Devils

Through the first five games of 2023, Green has started slowly with only 1.5 tackles for loss and sacks. Green must play a bigger role if Pitt wants to have any chance of qualifying for a bowl game this year. 

Redshirt senior cornerback M.J. Devonshire 

In high school, Devonshire — a two-way — was voted 3A player of the year by Pennsylvania Football Writers, posting eight interceptions and 571 yards his senior year. Devonshire played at Aliquippa — a powerhouse program that went 14-1 en route to a state title in his senior year. In the state title game, Devonshire had three interceptions, helping his team hoist the championship trophy. 

Devonshire continued to make plays in big-time moments at Pitt. His only interception in 2021 came in overtime against North Carolina at the goal line, helping Pitt clinch a 30-23 victory. In 2022, Devonshire blew up the internet as he took an interception back for a touchdown against West Virginia. Devonshire’s efforts gave Pitt the 38-31 victory in the Backyard Brawl. 

The Pitt cornerback also found the endzone three times in 2022 — twice on defense and once as a returner. He became the first Pitt player since Darrelle Revis — also an Aliquippa native — to score a touchdown in the form of a pick-six and punt return in a single season. 

Devonshire also earned second-team All-ACC honors as a return specialist in 2022 and an honorable mention at corner. 

The redshirt is predicted to land as a late-round pick, according to Pro Football Network’s Way-Too-Early draft list. But he has yet to find the endzone or make a crucial play for the Panthers this year. 

Junior defensive back Donovan McMillon 

McMillon was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the state, according to 247Sports, in 2021. The highly recruited Peters Township safety racked up 54 offers by the end of his senior year. 

McMillon chose to attend Florida, where he played a small role his first two years as backup safety and special teams player. 

He entered the transfer portal on Dec. 22, 2022, and chose to come home and attend Pitt. 

The junior got his chance and made an immediate impact on the field. Starting strong at safety, he’s back to playing at a level similar to his high school days, delivering big hits when the opportunity presents itself. McMillon currently leads the Panthers in tackles by a considerable margin with 44. 

Redshirt offensive linemen Jake Kradel 

Kradel got his chance at guard for Pitt in 2019. The then-sophomore didn’t allow any pressure and remained a starter for the rest of the year. An injury after 10 games in 2021 didn’t stop him from earning an All-ACC honorable mention. 

He’s taken on versatile roles at Pitt, starting four games at guard and eight at center for the Panthers in 2022. Kradel paved the way for a highly productive offense that year. He received All-ACC third team honors at guard and an honorable mention at center. 

Kradel’s background as a utility man traces back to Art Bernardi Stadium at Butler High School, where he took on the role of offensive lineman, defensive lineman and punter. 

The accomplished lineman has his sights set on the NFL draft, where scouts will notice his versatile ability. Kradel also works hard off the field, earning All-ACC Academic Football honors twice, and is an MBA candidate at the Katz Graduate School of Business. It’s safe to say he has many options post-graduation.