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.
3. Larry Fitzgerald (2002-03)- Even though we only got to see him for two seasons before he bolted for the NFL, there is no doubt that a case can be made for Fitzgerald being the best wide receiver in college football history. In just two seasons, he accumulated 161 catches, 2,677 yards, and 34 touchdowns. Projected over four seasons, he would have been the all-time leader in college football history in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
As a freshman, the Minnesota native showed greatness immediately with 69 catches, 1,005 yards, and 12 touchdowns. In Fitzgerald's sophomore season he had a then unheard of 92 catches, 1,672 yards, and 22 touchdowns. What's even more amazing is that those staggering numbers came in a pro-set offense with no other real threats. In other words, everybody knew that quarterback Rod Rutherford would throw to Fitzgerald all game, even in double and triple coverage, but still nobody could stop him.
In one of the more controversial Heisman finishes ever, Fitzgerald finished 2nd to Oklahoma quarterback Jayson White. Many argued at that time (and since) that Fitzgerald didn't get the votes because he was a sophomore and because he was primarily a wide receiver, neither of which had won the award at the time. He did, however, win the Walter Camp Award, the Biletnikoff Award, and was a unanimous first team All-American.
Today, Fitzgerald plays for the Arizona Cardinals, who took him with the 3rd pick overall. Just like when he was at Pitt, Fitzgerald showed immediately that he was a superstar and one of the best receivers to ever play football. He has already been to six Pro Bowls and is on pace to be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
It was a very difficult decision between Fitzgerald and Bill Fralic for the No.3 spot. To be honest, both deserve it. Fralic was greater longer because he played two more seasons. But Fitzgerald easily could have won the Heisman as a sophomore, quite an amazing feat, and ultimately I chose him to be No.3 because he was that rare talent that people around the country would watch just because they wanted to see what he would do. There are many great athletes in the world at any one time but few stand out as an athlete that you can't help but watch because you can't believe what he does. Announcers would go speechless looking for the right words to explain what they just saw. People would call each other on the phone and tell their friends to hurry up and watch a replay of some miraculous play that he just accomplished. Fitzgerald had that ability in college and he has it in the pros. Simply put, he's a singular talent, and the rare athlete who can wow on a consistent basis.