Thursday, August 2, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.3 Larry Fitzgerald

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:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
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. 


  1. PSU transfers that have been announced..

    The count is up to 8...

  2. I saw him in person when Pitt played Texas A & M at Kyle Field. He was triple covered in the endzone. The three A & M guys never had a chance. He caught the pass for the touchdown. I have never seen anything like it.

    1. I remember that catch well. For somebody who only played two seasons he sure does have a lot of highlight catches.

    2. That game was on national TV...I believe Brent Musberger made the call. He couldn't believe it either.

      Fitz was the best, most talented receiver ever in college.

  3. both pittsburgh writers did not vote for him on heisman..still can't understand why!

    1. Well, they both work for the Pitt-hating Penn State-loving Post-Gazette.

      Smizik at least admits he made a mistake on that one. Cook still defends, much like how he's still defending Paterno and PSU.

    2. I think they wanted to prove that they wren't "homers". Smizik and Cook are the worst, It's unbeleivable that Cook has a column and a daily radio show.

  4. Doke,

    For me, the jury's still out whether or not our shiny new head coach completely "gets it" when it comes to recruiting. This situation with the Nits' ship taking on water just reinforces all that.

    Does Chryst & Company even have a seat at the table for any of these PSU guys? Look what happens when some other team does more than "just offer," or goes beyond "we'll listen if any of their players are interested in us."

    Today someone (you?) tweeted that Pitt didn't -- and now apparently won't -- even get a visit from that 5-star RB from VA because our whole staff (??) was on vacation! Hey, vacations are important, but we couldn't care enough to reschedule the kid?

    That plays more like the guy who was willing to risk letting an entire recruiting class go down in flames to be a lame-duck coach at Wiscy's bowl, rather than get his tail in here and get busy.

    Please reassure me that I'm worried about nothing...

    1. Actually, I think Doke said some of the coaches were on vacation, and Pitt wanted all the coaches present when Green came.
      That makes it a little more justifiable, but still concerning.

      As for getting PSU players, that's such a unique situation, you can't really judge on that.
      Notice, though, that all these players are going far away from Creepy Valley (save for the incoming freshman to Rutgers), and only one is going to an urban campus (Southern Cal).
      I don't think Pitt had much of a chance with these kids no matter who the coach was.

    2. Original...
      Guess what....

      NONE of the coaches met Green...
      that was STUPID, STUPID, STUPID.... they just don't get it!!
      Someone getting paid over $1million/yr doesn't get vacation!!!

      Bozo Chryst probably took the WI stance of not going after PSU recruits.... at least go after those that Pitt gave an offer to when they were in HS.

    3. I think anybody that works deserves a vacation - and I'm willing to bet Chryst is the only coach making a million - but that's another topic.

      But as I said, asking him (or any other recruit, for that matter) to reschedule isn't a good tactic.
      Certainly, I would think not every coach has to be present.

    4. Joe D.

      You should be happy.. you said you didn't want them to waste their time on Green, and they didn't. Why are you still complaining? I could certainly go back and show you what you said. Would you like me to do that?

    5. Hurriquake,

      You're missing my point (and JoeD's too, not to defend him...). I don't care whether they chase Green or not, RB isn't currently a positon of need.

      What concerns me is the whole laisse faire approach & attitude when it comes to easily the most important key to a successful CFB program: recruitng.

      You can bet the rent that PSU would be chasing our guys HARD if (God forbid) shoe was on the other foot. In fact, they did, after Wanny "resigned." I want to know that we at least tried to get out name out there to the PSU refugees.

      I just want to know that: (a) our staff realizes how important recruiting is, and (b) they're trying their darndest.

      I want to know they're doing more than, like some jr-HS nerd, waiting on the wings waiting for the pretty girls to ask HIM to dance. Which I fear is the metaphor that generally describes it...

    6. I wasn't commenting on the lack of recruiting the PSU defectors.. I was specifically talking about Joe D's hypocrisy.

      He wanted them to not waste their time on Green, so they didn't, and now he's complaining about them taking his advice.

  5. Our head coach gets a vacation after he hoists that crystal football over his head.

  6. I'm looking fwd to the final two and your supporting analysis. Personally, TD gets my vote for the same Way that Joe Greene was the face of the Steelers , so was TD the face of the Panthers.