I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972. I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion. The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree. I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used. I will add at least one a day, maybe two.
My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:
3. Place in program history.
4. Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers.
5. No current players.
23. Gordon Jones (1975-78)- The first great receiver and return man in Pitt history, the East Allegheny alum was so explosive and acrobatic that he was nicknamed "Too Much".
As a freshman Jones had 22 catches and 4 touchdowns with a 17.5 avg. Those numbers may not sound great, but remember that Tony Dorsett and Elliott Walker combined for almost 2,500 yards on the ground and quarterback Robert Haygood was more of a runner than a passer. As a return man Jones shined with a 12.8 punt return avg. and a 23.3 kick return avg. His 385 yard punt return yards are still a single season school record.
As a sophomore, the Panthers won the National Championship with Dorsett running for over 2,000 yards so once again Jones had to use his great blocking ability instead of his great pass catching ability. He still ended up with 21 catches and 5 touchdowns, along with an 18.4 avg. In the Sugar Bowl win, Jones came up big with a 59-yard touchdown reception.
As a junior, Dorsett was gone and Matt Cavanaugh opened up the passing game enough for Jones to accumulate 45 catches for 793 yards, 9 touchdowns, and a 17.6 avg. Once again he great in the return game with a 10.0 punt return avg. and a 25.8 kick return avg. Jones again came up huge in the bowl game as he had 10 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown in a 34-3 Gator Bowl win over Clemson.
As a senior, Rick Trocano replaced the graduated Matt Cavanaugh, but that did not stop Jones from adding another 46 catches, 666 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
When he graduated Jones had school records for both receptions and receiving yards, and he's still 5th in receptions, 8th in receiving yards, 6th in receiving touchdowns, and 6th in all-purpose yards. Pretty amazing considering he was in such a run heavy offense.