Pitt Football: New Era Begins As Pat Narduzzi And Staff Begin Landing Commitments


Jan 10, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head football coach Pat Narduzzi (front left) poses for a photo with members of the Panthers student section before the game against the Clemson Tigers at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ten days ago, I updated the new era of Pitt football, as head coach Pat Narduzzi began to assemble his staff and hit the ground recruiting.

Hires and new commitments are beginning to take shape, as the Pitt football staff is now finalized.

What is really impressive with the new staff is their willingness to use social media, such as Twitter, to allow fans to track the coaches on the recruiting trail and the athletes they are pursuing.

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New Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has even been involved in the recruiting process.  He indicated that if Pitt wants to be a top-tier university, it needs to have a top-tier football program.

Previous Pitt coaching staffs did not utilize the social media tool, which is bringing excitement to Pitt fans and a sense of renewed energy. Give these guys a follow to stay up-to-date on their recruiting hunt.

As for the coaching staff:

Head coach Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) left Michigan State to take over the Pitt football team, which touted the most freshmen and sophomores in the country last season. On Twitter, Narduzzi, who now has 30,000 followers, has been mentioning “PITT IS IT! #H2P” to indicate a new hire or verbal commitment.

Josh Conklin (@CoachConklin) is defensive coordinator. Conklin, 35, was the defensive coordinator at FIU this past season, leading a defense that ranked fourth in FBS with 33 forced turnovers, and 35th in total defense (363.8 yards per game). An added bonus is that he’ll likely have some Florida ties in the recruiting aspect.

Jim Chaney (@CoachJimChaney) is offensive coordinator. He made a lateral move to Pitt from Arkansas, showing some of the pull that Narduzzi has, as he takes someone away from the SEC West. Chaney coached at Purdue when Drew Brees emerged, and his offenses have relied on pro-style attacks and strong passing games. Coach Chaney was recruiting in Michigan today.

John Peterson (@CoachJPete) is the offensive line coach that brings experience to Pitt. Peterson was the offensive line coach at Akron last season. This was the same Zips team that beat Pitt last year. Peterson was a starting guard at Ohio State in 1990.

Tim Salem (@CoachTimSalem) is the tight ends coach. He was the Illinois special teams coach last season, and he has 20 years of experience. He has been an offensive coordinator at Purdue, Eastern Michigan, and Phoenix College.

Rob Harley (@robharley34) is linebackers coach. Harley, a former safety at Ohio State, coached an impressive and surprising FIU linebacker corps this past season. Coach Harley has been hitting the recruiting trail in Florida and New Jersey, and he was a big factor in recently landing Anthony McKee and Shawn Curtis.

Renaldo Hill (@CoachillPitt) is the cornerbacks coach. The former Michigan State Spartan and Miami Dolphins defensive back spent the last three years at Wyoming. He doesn’t have much college coaching experience, but playing in the NFL for ten seasons isn’t too bad at all.

Tom Sims (@CoachTomSims) is the defensive line coach. He is a former Pitt player who played seven seasons in the NFL. He was the defensive line coach and assistant head coach at Youngstown State last season, and he has coached defensive lines for almost 20 years.

Kevin Sherman is the wide receivers coach. He brings much experience, as he recently coached wide receivers for two seasons at Purdue and seven seasons for Virginia Tech.

Andre Powell (@CoachAPowell) is special teams coordinator and running backs coach. Powell has known Narduzzi for more than 20 years, and led an impressive unit at Maryland this past season. Coach Powell was recruiting in Texas today.

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  • Dave Andrews is the head of strength and conditioning. He was at Notre Dame the past season for strength and conditioning. A former player at Ohio State, Andrews will provide immediate toughness and experience to the young Pitt Panthers.

    Ben Mathers has been named director of football operations, and Narduzzi indicated that he was an invaluable behind-the-scenes contributor to the success of Michigan State.

    As for Pitt commitments, the following five recruits have had a change of heart:

    Former Pitt quarterback commit Alex Hornibrook decided to follow Chryst and committed to Wisconsin. Offensive tackle Rob Dowdy, defensive tackle Kraig Howe, Florida running back Sekai Lindsay and safety Peter Knox have decommitted.

    The new staff has been hitting the recruiting trail HARD, and they have secured three new commitments thus far:

    • OLB (Scout 22, 4*) (Rivals 36, 3*) (ESPN 25, 4*) Anthony McKee (Marion-Franklin HS) Columbus, OH 6-1/195
    • S (Scout 53, 3*) (Rivals 36, 3*) (ESPN 33, 3*) Jazzee Stocker (Coatesville Area HSH) Coatesville, PA 6-2/185
    • OLB (Scout NR, (Rivals 2*) (ESPN NR) Shawn Curtis (Ronald W Reagan) Doral, FL 6-3/245

    The following ten Pitt recruits remain committed to the program since Chryst left for Wisconsin:

    • CB (Scout 21, 4*) (Rivals 6, 4*) (ESPN 11, 4*) Jordan Whitehead (Central Valley HS) Monaca, PA 5-10/170
    • RB (Scout 30, 4*) (Rivals 22, 4*) (ESPN 37, 4*) Darrin Hall (Fitch HS) Youngstown, OH 6-0/205
    • OT (Scout 84, 3*) (Rivals 39, 3*) (ESPN 50, 3*) Alex Paulina (Canon-McMillan SHS) Canonsburg, PA 6-5/295
    • TE (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals 3*) (ESPN 14, 3*) Nick Bowers (Kittanning SHS) Kittanning, PA 6-4/220
    • OLB (Scout 70, 3*) (Rivals 3*) (ESPN 74, 3*) Kevin Givens (Altoona HS) Altoona, PA 6-3/230
    • CB (Scout 102, 3*) (Rivals 2*) (ESPN 58, 3*) Malik Henderson (Hallandale HS) Hallandale, FL 6-1/175
    • WR (Scout 73, 3*) (Rivals 75, 3*) (ESPN 99, 3*) Quadree Henderson (Alexis I. Dupont HS) Wilmington, DE 5-9/172
    • WR (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals 3*) (ESPN 136, 3*) Tre Tipton (Apollo-Ridge HS) Spring Church, PA 6-1/170
    • CB (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals 2*) (ESPN 133, 3*) Dane Jackson (Quaker Valley HS) Leetsdale, PA 6-0/170
    • OT (Scout 108, 3*) (Rivals 3*) (ESPN 107, 3*) Tony Pilato (Hempfield Area SHS) Greensburg, PA 6-7/295

    Stay tuned to City of Champions for additional coach and recruiting news and game recaps, as well as Pittsburgh.scout.com and Pittsburgh.rivals.com for additional Pitt coverage.

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