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For Pitt fans, June has become synonymous with recruiting success.
Year after year, the Panthers have made a habit of landing commitments in June. And that success has persisted regardless of coaching staff:
Dave Wannstedt landed more than 30 June commitments in six years. Todd Graham pulled in five commitments (of which Pitt would sign one) in June 2011. And Paul Chryst’s staff grabbed June commitments from 25 recruits, including the summer of 2013 when 11 recruits committed to Pitt in June.
Pat Narduzzi has picked up the baton and run with it. In the summer of 2015, five recruits committed to Narduzzi in June and last year seven recruits did the same. There was no reason to expect 2017 to be any different.
Sure enough, Pitt’s commitment list that stood at four prior to June 1 nearly tripled by the end of the month, as Narduzzi put together another classic Pitt June.
Really, the month got started two days early when Butler lineman Jake Kradel committed while visiting May 30, but Pitt didn’t have to wait too long for its first official commitment of June, as the Panthers hit for a double on June 2.
First up was Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha’s Judson Tallandier, a 6’2” 185-pound cornerback who picked the Panthers over offers from Arizona, Boston College, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, N.C. State, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse and Wake Forest.
“There’s just something about Pitt,” Tallandier told Panther-Lair.com. “I visited other schools, I talked to other schools and I don’t know; I’m just attached to Pitt.”
Tallandier didn’t stand as Pitt’s only June 2 commitment for long, as Richmond (Va.) Benedictine School linebacker Wendell Davis was close behind. Davis was being targeted by Boston College, Duke, Indiana, Michigan State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Wake Forest and West Virginia, but he had known for awhile that Pitt was the school for him.
“I’ve been talking about Pitt since I visited in March,” Davis told Panther-Lair.com. “I had other visits planned but I kept thinking about Pitt; they had been my favorites for so long, I figured I might as well commit and get my spot.
“I visited the school, fell in love with it, saw them practice and knew it was something I wanted to be part of.”
Two days later, Tallandier’s teammate at DeMatha, defensive end John Morgan, decided to join the party as well. Morgan, who had offers from Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia Tech, was at Pitt for a prospect camp when he pulled the trigger.
“They just gave me a feeling that some schools just didn’t top,” Morgan told Panther-Lair.com after committing to Pitt. “It was just something that you couldn’t evaluate with just taking visits; you had to get to know coaches and stuff like that, and I really got to know Coach (Charlie) Partridge and Coach (Pat) Narduzzi very well, and they gave me a personal connection that I couldn’t feel at any other school.”
Starting with Kradel’s commitment on May 30, Pitt’s 2018 recruiting class had grown from three to seven in less than a week. That’s where things stood for a short period until junior-college offensive tackle Chase Brown decided to commit on June 12. Brown had visited Pitt two weekends earlier but waited to commit; Narduzzi and company felt like it was worth the wait, since the Virginia native will have a chance to walk into a starting job when he steps onto campus next January.
“I’ve been sitting on it for the last week,” Brown said after his committed, “thinking about it, praying about it, talking to my family about it, talking to some of my coaches and I was getting how they were feeling about it. But deep down I knew what I wanted to do. So I just went ahead and did it. I figured, why wait if I had my heart set on it?”
Two days after Brown committed, Pitt landed another big piece for the offensive line in Belle Vernon guard Blake Zubovic. One of the top local prospects in the class of 2018, Zubovic had offers from Boston College, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, N.C. State, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, but the hometown school always had a special calling for him.
“I just felt very at home and I love this coaching staff,” Zubovic said. “I like the other recruits and commits that I talk to. I just love Pitt. I’ve always been a fan.”
The June action took a 10-day break after Zubovic committed, but it wasn’t done yet. Montvale (NJ) St. Joseph Regional tight end Matt Alaimo visited Pitt on Friday, June 23, but left without committing. Less than 24 hours later, though, he was on the board, picking the Panthers over Arizona State, Arkansas, Duke, Illinois, Louisville, Minnesota, N.C. State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
“The tradition and all the opportunities that I found there at Pitt are what led to me committing,” Alaimo said.
Alaimo’s commitment put Pitt at 10 recruits in the class, but Narduzzi and staff landed one more before the month ended, and it was a big one. Thomas Jefferson defensive tackle Devin Danielson has been high on Pitt’s recruiting board since he got an offer in February, but he was always unsure about the Panthers.
Last weekend, Danielson spent two days at Pitt’s facilities as the snapper on the Jaguars’ seven-on-seven team, and during those 48 hours, he realized where he wanted to go to college.
“During one of the games, I just looked around and knew this is where I want to be,” Danielson told Panther-Lair.com. “I was with the coaches a little bit, but being there for two full days, it just got to me that that’s where I want to be.”
And with Danielson on board, Pitt heads into July listing 11 commitments in the 2018 class. The seven June pledges matches the total Narduzzi and company landed last year, as well as the seven Paul Chryst secured in June 2014 (only four of those seven ultimately signed with Pitt the following February).