Personal connections led Beatty to Pitt
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When a head football coach needs a new assistant, he’ll often look at familiar territory.
Someone he worked with, someone he coached against. Someone he knows.
For his new receivers coach, Pat Narduzzi took a slightly different approach. He identified a candidate in Maryland receivers coach Chris Beatty and used an intermediary to gauge interest. The intermediary was offensive line coach Dave Borbely, who coached with Beatty at Virginia and Maryland.
“He asked if I was interested, on Pat’s behalf, I guess,” Beatty said Thursday. “It just went from there.”
After gauging the initial interest, Narduzzi and Beatty met at the America Football Coaches Convention in San Antonio in January. Beatty was still technically employed by Maryland at that point, but he was, to use his words, “in limbo” as the Terrapins’ staff was taking shape under new head coach Mike Locksley.
When the time came for Beatty to move on, Pitt made sense to him - not necessarily because of facilities or conference or anything like that. Rather, it was the fact that Borbely wasn’t the only Pitt staffer who had a history with Beatty.
“I know a lot of the people here,” Beatty said. “I worked with (strength coach) Dave Andrews at Illinois. I’ve worked with Borbs on several staffs. Coach (Andre) Powell used to recruit my school way back in the day when I was a high school coach, so it’s a lot about relationships.”
Two weeks ago, Narduzzi made it official that Beatty would be the newest assistant to join Pitt’s staff. His resume is dotted with stops around the world of college football, but there are a few geographic areas that consistently come up.
Specifically, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia - the “DMV’ - but also further south, down through the Carolinas and Georgia into Florida.
“I recruited DMV everywhere I’ve ever been, from Wisconsin to Illinois to everywhere. That’s been one of my target areas. I grew up in that area so it makes it pretty easy. I recruited Dade, Broward, Palm in Florida, Tampa all the way down to Fort Myers. Shoot, we signed four or five wideouts out of Atlanta at the last stop. So, really, the south has been where I’ve recruited in the past.”
Georgia is of particular interest to Pitt as the coaching staff has tried to make inroads in the Peach State. Over the last two recruiting classes, the Panthers have offered 54 prospects from Georgia and signed none of them.
Maryland, with Beatty leading the charge in Georgia, signed six players from the state in the 2017 and 2018 classes. Pitt is hoping he can build on his reputation as a strong recruiter in his new job; for his part, Beatty thinks his history, which includes eight years as a high school coach around the turn of the century, contributes to his recruiting acumen.
“Being a high school coach at one point in my career, you learn what to do and what not to do because you hear what the players say when the coaches leave, so you say, ‘These are the things that you want to do,’” Beatty said. “Honesty has kind of always tried to be my thing…if you have connections or relationships, those things help, so I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of relationships and have been able to build upon the relationships in the places that I haven’t necessarily recruited a bunch.
“I think all of that stuff kind of builds on each other, and then the better players you put out on the field - I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of NFL guys that have played for us in the past at receiver and running back and whatever, and recruited bunch of them myself. So those things help, too.”
Beatty has crossed paths on the recruiting trail with Pitt in the past. He was a key component in the recruitment of 2018 receiver Jeshuan Jones, who had Pitt as one of his finalists before committing to the Terrapins.
In that same class, Pitt beat Maryland and others for Shocky Jacques-Louis; Beatty remembers recruiting him out of Florida, and now he’ll be working with the sophomore receiver as well as his teammates, and the last two weeks have been about familiarizing himself with the receiving corps he is inheriting.
“As I’ve gotten here and tried to learn a little bit, you want to try to give them a blank slate as much as you can, but at the same time, you want to know who can do what to be able to put them in a position to demonstrate that stuff during the spring. So we’re watching film but you’re trying to watch it, really, with an eye on where can they play and see who can do what in the spring. You want to give people a blank slate and let it play out.”