football Edit

Pitt's newest commit: A Tuesday offer, a weekend visit & a Saturday verbal

One of the teachers at The Peddie School in Highstown (NJ) has a policy: if a phone rings in class, the student can answer it - but the call has to be answered on speakerphone for the rest of the class to hear.

On Tuesday afternoon, that policy took an unexpected turn when the ringing phone belonged to SirVocea Dennis, and the voice on the other end of the line was Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

“I had to answer it and put it on speaker, and that was when he told me that he offering me a scholarship,” Dennis told Panther-Lair.com. “The whole class was clapping. It was exciting.”

Four days later, Dennis gave Narduzzi his verbal commitment during an official visit as the culmination of a whirlwind recruitment that began a few hours before that in-class phone call.

“I first met Pitt on Tuesday,” Dennis said. “Coach Narduzzi and Coach (Tim) Salem came to Peddie. My coach was in a meeting for school, so the coaches were talking to my athletic director. They came to the school for two 2020 recruits, but the athletic director asked if they were there for me.

“They didn’t know who I was and hadn’t seen my tape, so my athletic director showed them the tape and right away Coach Narduzzi wanted to meet me. So I talked to him and Coach Salem and he was very impressed with me as a whole, but I think what really sold him was the video of me dunking over two people. About an hour after he left the school, he called me with the offer.”

Dennis is a new name on Pitt’s recruiting board and his recruitment hasn’t been very highly-publicized. A native of Syracuse, Dennis attended Christian Brothers Academy and was drawing some college interest before a pair of injuries in his senior season. Seeking more exposure, he decided to do a post-graduate year at The Peddie School, and despite suffering another injury last summer, he suited up and had a successful season.

A variety of service academics and Ivy League schools pursued him based on his year at The Peddie School, but Dennis opted to sign with Air Force in December. By mid-January, though, concerns over allergies and sleep apnea, which might disqualify him from service, led Dennis to renege on that pledge - because it was a service academy, Dennis had merely made a declaration and did not sign a Letter of Intent - and he went back on the market looking for a new home.

Syracuse, Connecticut and UMass were showing interest and pushing for an official visit, but when Pitt got involved on Tuesday, his focus immediately turned to the Panthers.

“Growing up in Syracuse, I was a big Big East fan and I always watched the rivalry between Syracuse and Pitt,” Dennis said. “I didn’t dislike Syracuse, but for some reason I always loved those teams that were rivals against Syracuse. So then when I was a rising junior, I went to a Pitt camp and I remember really liking it. I said, if I ever get a chance to come here, I’m going.”

This week, that chance presented itself.

“Once I decided to visit, I pretty much knew I was going to commit,” Dennis said. “I met with the people that do the student life program and that caught my attention. And I also met with the support staff and academic support; grades are a big part of who I am and what I am based on, and I know Pitt is a wonderful school for academics and a great place for football in the ACC.

“Pitt was the place for me. I saw everything and was like, it’s a go.”

Dennis was hosted on his visit by freshman linebacker Wendell Davis, and he said his interactions with Davis and other Pitt players - particularly as they related to Narduzzi - played a factor in his decision.

“Some of these college coaches, they just want you because you’re a body; Coach Narduzzi really cares about you. I’ve seen it through the interaction with his players and you can tell he cares about them. You usually don’t hear this from college kids, but they said they love their coaches. I was surprised. They said they’re down to earth, genuine, really care about you. They make sure you are accountable for your actions, get things done and put your best foot forward. Always put you in a good spot; never put you in a bad spot.”

At 6’0” and 210 pounds, Dennis projects to the “star” linebacker position in Pitt’s defense

“They said I’m able to cover in open space,” Dennis said. “I have some speed and if I need to, I can get in the box and bang with the big guys.”

Dennis is the fourth linebacker to commit to Pitt in the class of 2019, joining Kyi Wright, Brandon George and Leslie Smith.