Pitt has a long way to go before it’s considered among the elite of college football. Shameless plug: I spent many inches discussing the possibility last summer.
Possible, in my mind, yes.
In reality, it may take some years before you see a Top 10 Pitt team, but Sporting News does list Pitt No. 24 in its preseason rankings, so there’s that. Pitt foes Penn State (No. 6), Oklahoma State (No. 16) and Miami (No. 19) are also ranked.
Sportings News’ reason for its generous assessment of the Panthers is tied to its victories last season against Penn State and Clemson, expected improvement in Pat Narduzzi’s third season and quarterback Max Browne.
Meanwhile, Pitt made a national splash Friday and Saturday when five of its players were selected in the NFL Draft. Getting five players drafted in one 19-hour period has less meaning than a pedestrian average of 7.25 victories in the four seasons since joining the ACC, but it’s a good start.
Pitt is one of only 15 Power 5 schools that had at least five players drafted, and there are only three others on the list — Miami, North Carolina and Clemson — from the ACC.
The impressive number, though, is 16. That’s how many Pitt players — 19 percent of its 85 scholarships — who will be in NFL camp’s for at least a few days this year.
Along with the five players drafted, 12 were either signed to UDFA contracts (that’s undrafted free agents) or invited to try out.
The hopeful 11 include:
Defensive backs Ryan Lewis (Cardinals), Terrish Webb and Reggie Mitchell (Steelers); tight end Scott Orndoff (Steelers); kicker Chris Blewitt (Steelers); linebackers Matt Galambos (Chiefs) and Bam Bradley (Ravens); wide receiver Dontez Ford (Lions); defensive tackles Shakir Soto and Tyrique Jarrett (Broncos); even backup and little-used offensive lineman John Guy (Vikings).
I can’t help thnking that Narduzzi’s hand played at least a small part in getting the word out to the NFL about these players. He’s been at enough Pro Days at Cincinnati, Michigan State and Pitt to know many of the NFL scouts, and he’s shameless (as he should be) in touting his guys.
One more quick note about the draft and Pitt:
The New York Giants traded up in the sixth round to get offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty, giving the Tennessee Titans sixth- and seventh-round picks. The Giants knew there was a market for offensive tackles late in the draft — four were selected after the Giants nabbed Bisnowaty — and went up to get the man they wanted.
Adam, it must be nice to be wanted.