The timeline: How Pitt's 2019 recruiting class came together
The second Signing Day is here. How did Pitt's 2019 recruiting class come together? Here's the timeline.
The long delay
The first few months after Signing Day 2018 weren't exactly loaded with recruiting action. Fresh off a 5-7 season, Pitt drifted through the spring without any commitments, and while June is always an active time on the recruiting front, there was plenty of unrest surrounding the fact that the Panthers were entering the sixth month of the year without any commitments for the first time in seven years.
And even the turn of the calendar didn't mark an immediate swing in momentum; rather, the Pitt coaches had to wait 10 days into June before finally breaking the seal.
June 10, 2018
The first commitment finally came on a Sunday, and it was Miami linebacker Leslie Smith who made it happen. Smith had been in town for a prospect camp, and after seeing Pitt for a weekend, he made his decision to commit.
There would be a few quiet days after Smith's commitment, but the levee was about to break.
June 15, 2018
This was the first year that recruits could take official visits in the spring of their junior years, , and the Pitt coaches decided to focus all of its efforts on one weekend: June 15-17.
Before that weekend started, though, the coaches brought a pair of recruits in for a Wednesday-Friday visit: defensive end Dontay Hunter and JUCO tight end Travis Koontz. Both prospects had official visits scheduled for immediately after their trips to Pitt; Hunter was going to Purdue Friday-Saturday and Koontz was set to visit Maryland.
Hunter still made his planned trip (and committed to the Boilermakers on Sunday, June 17) but Koontz saw what he needed to see and committed to Pitt before leaving town. He canceled his Maryland official visit after committing.
As Koontz was leaving Pitt on Friday the 15th, the coaching staff was welcoming the first arrivals of one of the biggest official visit weekends in school history. By the numbers, the coaches hosted 18 recruits the weekend of June 15-17, and the group was comprised entirely of out-of-state prospects. More than half of the visitors came from Florida and a few came from New Jersey; the rest were spread over Alabama, Maryland and South Carolina.
Pitt was sure to get at least a couple commitments out of the weekend, but how many remained to be seen.
June 16, 2018
Pitt fans and media were preparing to watch Pat Narduzzi's Twitter feed on Sunday, June 17, for the end-of-visit commitments that were likely to come. But before that tidal wave, there was a random commitment tweet sent out on Saturday, June 16. That belonged to Miami defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, who opted to not wait for the end of his visit and committed on Saturday night.
June 17, 2018
Father's Day 2018 is a day that Pitt fans, coaches and media probably won't forget anytime soon. To track the chronological order of the commitments that came that day would be virtually impossible; Narduzzi himself probably doesn't even remember how they rolled in.
All anyone knows is that once the commitments started coming, they didn't stop for a long time.
The group was led by quarterback Davis Beville; he might have actually been the first commitment that day, but he was soon joined by running back Vincent Davis, defensive ends Brandon Mack, Bryce Nelms and DeAndre Jules, linebacker Khadry Jackson and safety Brandon Hill.
The official visit weekend would yield two more commitments later in the process, but Pitt got one more commitment on the evening of Sunday, June 17, when linebacker Brandon George, who had camped at Pitt that month but did not take an official visit that weekend, made his own commitment to the Panthers.
Including Kancey and Koontz, the weekend - Friday to Sunday - yielded 10 commitments. That was more than Pitt had gotten in the entire month of June in any of the previous four years.
June 19, 2018
Pitt wasn't done with June 2018, though. Two days after the official visit weekend, defensive end Bam Brima committed. He had been at Pitt's prospect camp earlier in the month and likely saw the number of available defensive end spots dwindling.
June 21, 2018
Two days after Brima committed, Pitt got another one: Farrell all-around athlete Kyi Wright. One of the Panthers' top targets throughout the process, Wright starred at multiple positions for Farrell, and while he's initially projected to play linebacker for Pitt, he could grow into a defensive end, a tight end or even an offensive lineman. And he's probably talented enough to excel at any of those positions.
June 23, 2018
Most of the recruits who took an official visit the weekend of June 15-17 were known, but there was one surprise name on the visit: New Jersey tight end Jason Collier. And while he didn't commit during the visit, it took less than a week for him to join the class.
With Collier committed, Pitt came out of the month of June with 14 commitments, and all 14 of them happened over the course of a two-week period. June is always a big month for Pitt recruiting, but 2018 took the cake, as the biggest previous June was 2013 when 11 recruits committed.
By comparison to 2018, that looked like a light month. After seeming to wait forever to get a commitment in the 2019 class, the Pitt coaches had more than a dozen as they entered July.
July 27, 2018
After June, things tend to slow down in Pitt recruiting, but this year, the coaches added three more commitments before the end of the summer. The first came in late July; AJ Woods, a teammate of Jules, visited Pitt and committed before he left to give the Panthers their first cornerback commitment in the class.
July 31, 2018
Four days after getting their first commitment from a cornerback, the Pitt coaches landed their first offensive lineman in Matthew Goncalves, a tackle prospect who landed his Pitt offer after working out at the Panthers' camp.
August 2, 2018
Keeping up the "first at a position" trend of commitments, Jared Wayne gave Pitt its first receiver commit in the class when he pledged on Aug. 2. Wayne impressed the staff at a prospect camp, and like Woods, Goncalves, George and Brima, he committed without taking an official visit.
August 4, 2018
Pitt got a second offensive lineman for the class two days later in West Virginia tackle Nick Malone. His commitment gave the staff a total of 18 commitments before the season even started. With limited scholarships meaning a small class was likely, Pitt was close to a full class in the first week of August - unless things changed, of course...
October 4, 2018
With so many commitments so early in the process, attrition from the recruiting class was always likely, if not inevitable. The first crack came in October when Koontz, dismayed by the involvement of the tight ends in Pitt's passing game, decided to reopen his recruitment and look at other options. He said he would keep the Panthers under consideration, but he had an eye on programs that were throwing to the tight ends more.
November 20, 2018
With some uncertainty about the steadiness of the class, the Pitt coaches kept the radar running and one prospect they maintained contact with was South Carolina defensive end Nate Temple. Temple had been a target for the staff over the summer, but with commitments from Mack, Jules, Nelms and Brima, the spots filled up.
By November, the coaches decided Temple would be a good addition to the class, and once they told him that, it didn't take long for a new commitment.
November 29, 2018
Just like the coaches doubled-back and decided to pursue Temple, they made a similar decision in November with Aliquippa receiver Will Gipson. After the Quips changed their historic run-based offense into more of a passing spread, Gipson exploded and had a huge senior season. It was good enough to earn him an offer from Pitt, and the three-star receiver jumped on the opportunity quickly.
December 1, 2018
Pitt was in Charlotte facing Clemson for the ACC Championship on the first day of December. A few states away in Florida, running back Daniel Carter gave the team some good news when he tweeted his commitment during the game. Carter had been in town for the June 15 official visit weekend, but he waited until December to decide that Pitt was the school for him.
December 7, 2018
On the weekend after the ACC Championship Game, Pitt hosted its second big official visit. Eight recruits came to campus that weekend; five were already committed to Pitt, and they were joined by offensive linemen Liam Dick and Christian Mahogany and athlete Damarius Good.
None of those three recruits committed during the visit; the coaches ultimately decided not to pursue Mahogany, while Good ended up committing to UCF.
December 9, 2018
As Signing Day approached, Pitt had a few commits who seemed to be up in the air. One was Khadry Jackson, the outside linebacker/safety who committed as part of the June 15 weekend and seemed to be very solid. But a late burst of interest from North Carolina swayed him, and he decommitted on Dec. 9 before signing with the Tar Heels 10 days later.
December 19, 2018
Wednesday, Dec. 19, was Signing Day, and for the most part, it was a successful one for Pitt. The Panthers signed 18 recruits including Dick, who made his commitment public on Signing Day.
There were two names on the commitment list who did not sign that day: Mack and Malone. Mack had been flirting with other schools and had even taken an official visit prior to Signing Day while maintaining that he did not plan to sign until February, so his delay was not a surprise. Malone was a little more of a surprise, although it had become apparent in the weeks leading up to Signing Day that the Pitt coaches were backing off.
December 20, 2018
One day after not signing with Pitt, Mack formally decommitted from the Panthers. He made a new verbal pledge to Ole Miss before the end of the year.
January 11, 2019
Pitt's first official visit weekend of 2019 saw the coaching staff host six recruits. Four - Temple, Gipson, Smith and Brima - were already committed, and they were joined by Aliquippa four-star MJ Devonshire and tight end/defensive end Jeffrey Blake.
Devonshire remained a top Pitt target through Signing Day, when he made his commitment between Pitt and Kentucky. Blake was high on the Panthers' board as well, but his preference was to play defensive end and Pitt - like most schools - saw him as a tight end. Blake ultimately found an opportunity on defense at San Diego State and committed there later in January.
January 18, 2019
Pitt's final two official visit weekends were small, with just one visitor each weekend. The final stretch started with the weekend of Jan. 18-20 and the Panthers hosted Michigan offensive lineman Nolan Ulizio. A grad transfer candidate, Ulizio saw everything he needed to see in the 48 hours he spent in town, and before his visit was over, he committed to Pitt.
Ulizio is the third grad transfer offensive lineman in as many years to pick Pitt.
January 25, 2019
The final weekend of the 2019 recruiting cycle saw Pitt host a new name: New Jersey linebacker SirVocea Dennis. A Syracuse native spending a post-graduate year at The Peddie School, Dennis showed up on Pitt's radar when Pat Narduzzi visited the school last week. In the span of four days, Narduzzi went from watching tape to offering a scholarship to receiving a commitment, as Dennis gave a verbal pledge during his official visit.
February 6, 2019
The second Signing Day only had a little drama for Pitt as the Panthers - and everyone else in western Pennsylvania - watched to see which school Devonshire would choose. He opted for Kentucky, and Pitt's class was settled.