One of the WPIAL's most highly-regarded prospects, impressive Jefferson Hills (Pa.) defensive tackle Devin Danielson decided to stay at home and play for the local Pitt Panthers. What will Danielson's commitment mean for Pitt?
On the Field
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2018 defensive tackle Devin Danielson became the 11th commitment in Pitt's 2018 recruiting class on Tuesday evening, choosing the hometown school over offers from Louisville, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, UCLA, and other programs who hoped to pry him away from western Pennsylvania. Danielson joins players like high school teammate Noah Palmer of Jefferson Hills (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson and Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha's John Morgan, the two defensive ends currently committed to Pitt.
Danielson's commitment is Pitt's first at the defensive tackle position and it was a critical one, giving the Panthers a much-desired local product who can shore up the middle of their defensive line for years to come if all goes according to plan. At 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, Danielson has the look of a player who can become the prototypical 1-technique defensive tackle in defensive line coach Charlie Partridge's position group.
Throughout his high school career, which began when he started for WPIAL powerhouse Thomas Jefferson as a freshman, Danielson has excelled at every challenge he's faced. The defensive tackle has gradually grown into his body and will finish his career as one of the most productive defensive linemen to ever suit up in the Pittsburgh area, certainly the most dominant defensive tackle since Penn Hills product Aaron Donald.
While his physical attributes are impressive and I'll discuss them below, nothing has been more impactful on Danielson's success than his motor. The big defensive tackle is full-go all of the time, contributing on both sides of the football while rarely taking breathers. Danielson simply doesn't take plays off and his ability to anchor both sides of the line on snap after snap is critical in TJ's ability to control the line of scrimmage in nearly every game they play.
Right now, Danielson is more strong than he is quick. Although he's already 290 pounds before his senior season, Danielson carries very little bad weight and he's on the trim side for a defensive tackle. His bull rush is likely the most effective tool in his pass-rushing arsenal right now and when he gets low leverage, he can drive offensive linemen into the backfield before they realize what's happening. Ask Thomas Jefferson's opponents how many plays he's blown up before they can develop by knocking a guard on his rear end.
It will be critical for Danielson to work on continuing to develop the ability to play violently with his hands. Adding more moves and tools to his pass-rushing and run defending efforts will allow him to discard blockers more easily when he's at the college level, where he won't be able to simply physically dominate opposing players.
Danielson's commitment is Pitt's first at the defensive tackle position in the 2018 class and it takes Charlie Partridge and Pat Narduzzi one step closer to wrapping up their efforts on the defensive line for this class. With the aforementioned Palmer and Morgan already joined up, Danielson and company should only have one more defensive tackle joining their position group before Pitt closes defensive line efforts in 2018.
The most notable option to watch moving forward is Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic pass-rusher David Green, a quick and speedy three-technique option who would compliment Danielson's skill-set well at the next level. Green is the other local defensive tackle holding a Pitt offer, although Power Five schools like Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, West Virginia, and more will pursue him. Green plans to decide before the start of his senior season and recently visited Pitt.
Should things go south between Pitt and Green for any reason, the prospects to watch are Floridian standout Parker Devine of Bartram Trail (Fla.) and Georgia native Deporess Schletty. Both are listed as defensive ends but are regarded as defensive tackles by the Pitt staff in recruiting. They have each expressed interest in the Panthers, but have yet to visit campus.
Danielson's commitment bounces Pitt back into the top 40 of the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings, leap-frogging ahead of ACC foe Louisville, a program that also recruited Danielson. With 11 commits now in the class, Pitt stands at 38th overall in the rankings. However, they are 11th among teams with 11 or fewer commits to date and stand 10th among all ACC programs.