Roster: It's on defense where the Panthers should get better in a very dramatic way. Pat Narduzzi and his defensive staff can really recruit, and players will love to play for Narduzzi and his charismatic defensive staff. But also, there's a lot to upgrade.
The defensive ends at the moment are suspect in both high end talent and depth. This is the last year for Ejuan Blair and Shakir Soto will have just one year after this. True sophomore Rori Blair has a chance to be very good as does incoming juco player Allen Edwards. But after that there's a big drop off. Bottom line, this group needs a major overhaul.
At defensive tackle, the situation is just as dire since Darryl Render and Khaynin Mosley-Smith will be moving on after this season, and Tyrique Jarrett will be gone after next season.
2016: Narduzzi added a big piece of the puzzle already by adding Tennessee transfer Dewayne Hendrix. He's a former big time recruit that will have three years to play. He has the potential to be a star. But I expect two more at this position. The good news is, there are a lot of good choices.
Philadelphia end Karamo Dioubate is a clone of Hendrix and he is expected to visit Pitt next month. But the competition is brutal. Zach Gilbert, son of former Pitt star Sean, lives in North Carolina, but the staff is trying to get him to follow in the footsteps of his father. He's excellent. A couple of undersized sleepers from Philadelphia, Shaka Toney and Andre Mintze, are in the mix, and both could be good once they get bigger. In all, there's about 16 offers still remaining from around the country.
Like at end, quick playing time will help in landing quality tackles. A local, Rashad Wheeler, is a Pitt/PSU battle, and it would be a big win if the Panthers can land him. New Jersey's Michael Dwumfour showed well at Pitt camp, and now the Panthers are a major player in getting his commitment. Harrisburg's Anthony Long tried to commit to the Panthers once so he could end up doing it again. About ten others are offered from around the country, many from Florida, including stud Aaron Thompson, who has Pitt among his top group.
2017: Harrisburg's Damion Barber and Virginian Tyjuan Garbutt already have offers, and both should be major targets. Garbutt picked his first offer up at Pitt camp last week but he is expected to have many more. A must get is Donovan Jeter of Beaver Falls. He is the brother of Pitt basketball player Sheldon Jeter. He will probably end up at defensive tackle.
Roster: Nicholas Grigsby graduates after this season and Bam Bradley, Mike Caprara, and Matt Galambos will be gone after next season, but the underclassmen are a good start to improving the position.
Quintin Wirginis is just a sophomore, and James Folson and Jamal Davis are redshirt freshmen. They all have good potential. Incoming freshmen Anthony McKee and Salem Brightwell have an even higher upside. Five good young players is a nice start, but you can't have a great defense without great linebackers so more high quality additions are needed.
2016: There's no WPIAL prospects at this position, or in Pennsylvania really, so this linebacker class is more of an unknown. There's nearly 20 offers out there to uncommitted players and with recruiting ace Rob Harley the linebacker coach, I wouldn't worry about them adding a couple of really good additions. One real gem would be Cameron Brown of Maryland. The 6'6" Brown has Pitt in his top 10 and he loves Narduzzi.
2017: The staff already has seven offers out for this class which shows just how much they want to land top linebackers in this year. One local, David Adams of Central Catholic, will be a major target.
Roster: This is may be the most interesting unit on the team because Narduzzi is known for great secondaries, there's already good young talent on the roster, and there's a chance to get amazing talent here in the next few years.
Lafayette Pitts is the only senior and there is plenty of good young talent. Reggie Mitchell and Terrish Webb will be around for two more years and Avonte Maddox, Pat Amara, Dennis Briggs, and Phillipie Motley all have talent. If that's not good enough, incoming freshmen Malik Henderson and Dane Jackson are good, Jay Stocker is potentially excellent, and Jordan Whitehead has star potential. The future is bright even without a potential great DB class or two coming.
2016: Tony Butler is already in the fold, at least for now. He's a perfect fit for Narduzzi's defense. There's been a worry that he could flip, and while he would be a great addition, there's potentially so much talent in the unit that it may prove to not be devestating in the long run if he did flip. As any Panthers fan knows, WPIAL stars Damar Hamlin and Khaleke Hudson are the big time possibilities. Hamlin can project at corner or safety, while Hudson is a safety. Other locals, cornerback Therran Coleman and safety Bricen Garner, are just two of many that are interested in the Panthers. Bottom line, when Narduzzi is your coach, defensive backs are interested.
2017: The Panthers may already have an embarrassment of riches by this time, but it could get even better. Two locals, cornerback Lamont Wade, and safety Paris Ford, are as about as elite as prospects come, and the Panthers will be heavily involved with both. Connor Hayward, son of Ironed, is also a top safety that has an offer.