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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Pittsburgh
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  11/21/20 - Kenny PickettSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 220 (DS#4 QB) + More +

  Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 404 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another in his final start at Heinz Field as shorthanded Pittsburgh rolled past Virginia Tech 47-14 on Saturday night. The Panthers (5-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) were missing 16 players due to COVID-19 protocols, a group that included leading receiver Jordan Addison and three starting offensive linemen. It hardly mattered. Relying heavily on short passes designed to take some of the pressure off the patchwork line in front of him, Pickett completed 35 of 52 passes as Pitt won its second straight following a four-game losing streak.

Graduate transfer DJ Turner caught 15 passes - one shy of the school's single-game record - for 184 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown in the third quarter just four plays after the Panthers stuffed Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker at the goal line. Turner's long catch-and-run pushed Pitt's lead to 33-14 and sent the reeling Hokies (4-5, 4-4) to their fourth loss in five games. A week after having their game against Georgia Tech rescheduled due to COVID-19 protocols and despite missing a significant number of their regulars, the Panthers had little trouble doing whatever they wanted against the Hokies. Virginia Tech, itself missing 12 players because of the same COVID-19 protocols, simply could not keep pace. - Pittsburgh/AP College Football


(DS#4 QB) Sr/2021 QB Kenny PickettPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh/AP College Football
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  11/09/20 - Brandon HillrFr/2024, Pittsburgh, 5-10, 205 (DS#11 SS) + More +

  NOV 9 ACC DEFENSIVE BACK OF THE WEEK: Brandon Hill, Pitt, R-Fr., SS, Apopka, Fla.,...Tied for team-high honors with seven tackles, forced a fumble and capped Pitt's 41-17 victory at Florida State with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown...The standout performance came in the first start of Hill's college career. - Atlantic Coast Conference Football

(DS#11 SS) rFr/2024 SS Brandon HillPittsburgh
News Source: Atlantic Coast Conference Football
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  11/07/20 - Kenny PickettSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 220 (DS#4 QB) + More +

  Kenny Pickett knew he would miss some games with an ankle injury. But he also had a recovery plan and intended to be back in time to face Florida State. His return was just the spark Pittsburgh needed. Nick Patti had two touchdown runs, Pickett added a 10-yard TD run and the Panthers capitalized on short fields to defeat Florida State 41-17 on Saturday night, snapping a four-game losing streak. Pickett returned to the starting lineup after missing two games, losses to top-15 teams Miami and Notre Dame. The senior completed 21 of 27 passes for 210 yards, connecting with freshman Jordan Addison a season-high 11 times for 127 yards.

"I'm just not at 100 percent yet," Pickett said. "I had this game circled after it happened, I kind of knew this was the game where it would come back or at least plan to come back. A credit to our training staff and doctors. I was pretty much living with those guys to this moment. A lot of hard work went into it and it's just great to be back." Pickett said he was watching Florida State film, preparing for this game during the bye last week. With Pitt on the goal line twice in the first half, he yielded to Patti for touchdown runs from 1 and 2 yards for Pittsburgh (4-4, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). But Pickett was efficient and showed little effects from the ankle injury. "Kenny Pickett is a tough, tough son of a gun," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. "I didn't even know if he was going to go or not. He did go and he played hard. Obviously, he had a heavily taped up, braced ankle, but he's my MVP. Our offense ticks when he's out there." - AP College Football


(DS#4 QB) Sr/2021 QB Kenny PickettPittsburgh
News Source: AP College Football
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  11/05/20 - Israel AbanikandaFr/2024, Pittsburgh, 5-10, 200 (DS#999 RB) + More +

  Narduzzi said he won't abandon the running game, which repeatedly has failed this season. "We are going to continue to try and, eventually, just keep pounding that rock, pounding that rock," he said. "The first hit might not make it, but after that 115th, 200th, 2,000th hit on that stone, that thing will crack open. "We have to continue to push and work to dig through that thing." Pitt is ranked 93rd of 102 teams nationwide and 14th of 15 in the ACC, with an average of 98 rushing yards per game. Izzy Abanicanda has only 11 carries in the past four games, but Narduzzi remains patient with his freshman running back. "It's day by day. He's still a puppy," he said. "Sometimes, it just takes a little longer. It's a process and you have to trust the process, whether it's in the run game or having patience with your players. He's a great kid." - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

(DS#999 RB) Fr/2024 RB Israel AbanikandaPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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  11/02/20 - *Paris FordrJr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-0, 190 (DS#1 SS) + More +

  Pittsburgh's attempt to salvage what has become a disappointing season won't include safety Paris Ford. Coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed Monday that Ford, a redshirt junior, has opted out of the Panthers' final four games. "Paris is a tremendous football player, a tremendous person," Narduzzi said. "We wish him all the best in his endeavors as he moves on through this football world and the rest of his life." Ford spent a portion of the offseason wavering between playing and sitting out before joining the Panthers following a breakout 2019 in which he was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection after collecting three interceptions to go along with a team-high 97 tackles.

"All along, Paris has had these thoughts in his mind going back to last year in February when he decided to stay, and then there's all the opting out going on in the middle of summer during camp," Narduzzi said. "So he took a few days back then to think about it long and hard." Ford had three picks and 45 tackles for the Panthers (3-4, 2-4 ACC), who have dropped four straight following a 3-0 start heading into Saturday's visit to Florida State (2-4, 1-4). His is the second high-profile departure for Pitt's defense. Defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, an All-American in 2019, decided over the summer to take the season off and prepare for the NFL draft. Narduzzi said he does not believe Pitt's slide played a factor into Ford's decision to move on. Asked if he believes Ford will be the last player to opt out, Narduzzi said: "I don't see that at all. But you know, I don't have a crystal ball, and you never know." - AP College Football


(DS#1 SS) rJr/2021 SS *Paris FordPittsburgh
News Source: AP College Football
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  10/24/20 - Patrick Jones IIrSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-4, 260 (DS#4 DE) + More +

  Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II has an FBS-best seven sacks, including three against both Louisville and Boston College. The two-time ACC defensive lineman of the week has helped the Panthers rank seventh nationally in total defense (274.7 yards). - AP College Football

(DS#4 DE) rSr/2021 DE Patrick Jones IIPittsburgh
News Source: AP College Football
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  10/18/20 - Joey YellenrFr/2024, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 215 (DS#22 QB) + More +

  Former ASU quarterback Joey Yellen got the start for Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon, subbing for injured starter Kenny Pickett. He completed 22 of 46 tries for 277 yards and one touchdown in a 31-19 loss to No. 13 Miami. Yellen served as backup to Jayden Daniels last season but played in only one game, that coming against USC when Daniels was injured. He transferred to January in search of more playing time. Adding a twist to his first start at his new school, it came against Miami, which is where Yellen's former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Rob Likens is now serving as wide receivers coach. ASU assistant coach Trey Anderson, who works with quarterbacks, told his players before they headed out to practice that their former teammate was going to be starting. Trent Bourguet, Jayden Daniels' backup, texted Yellen to wish him good luck and got a return text after the game. "We're all really happy for him," Bourguet said. - Arizona Republic

(DS#22 QB) rFr/2024 QB Joey YellenPittsburgh
News Source: Arizona Republic
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  10/17/20 - Patrick Jones IIrSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-4, 260 (DS#4 DE) + More +

  Even after losing preseason All-American defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, who opted out this season to prepare for the NFL Draft, Pitt is back on top of the national sack rankings. The Panthers are No. 1 with 25 sacks and third in average per game (five). That's a season after Pitt finished tied for second, with Wisconsin and SMU (a total of 51), and led the nation with 3.9 per game. Yet, defensive end Patrick Jones II, who already leads the nation with seven, doesn't allow talk in the meeting room to lose focus. "He's quick to shut that down before it becomes a distraction," Partridge said. "He's extremely serious."

Football can be fun, mainly when a team is winning, but Jones said, "I don't think of it like a joke. I take it serious like a job. "It's something I just do and impress upon other people. You take the game like that, it's going to help you get a bigger paycheck when it's time to do that." Jones and Pitt's other bookend, Rashad Weaver, have combined for 111/2 sacks this season, one more than Twyman recorded in 13 games last year. All three men are considered among the top defensive linemen who will be available in the NFL Draft in 2021. Before that can happen, though, Jones and Weaver need to keep making the big, game-changing plays that could help pull Pitt out of its two-game losing streak. They get a chance to showcase their skills Saturday when Pitt visits No. 13 Miami. - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


(DS#4 DE) rSr/2021 DE Patrick Jones IIPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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  10/16/20 - Kenny PickettSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 220 (DS#4 QB) + More +

  Kenny Pickett didn't play his best at Boston College, but it was no doubt a gutsy performance. The third-year starting quarterback ran 14 times and took some hits, including one that briefly forced him out of the game and into the medical tent. Pickett picked up an apparent ankle injury and returned to the game after two offensive plays and a defensive series. He's "banged up" now, Narduzzi said. But Pickett's health was "a lot better" on Sunday than the coach expected it to be. "The one thing I know about Kenny is he's tough as can be," Narduzzi said. "It's going to be hard to hold him out."

If Pickett is deemed unable to go - or if he re-aggravates the injury at Miami - it'll be either Arizona State transfer Joey Yellen or class of 2019 signee Davis Beville replacing him. When Pickett left the game at Boston College, Yellen entered the game. And when Pickett got the wind knocked out of him against N.C. State, it was Beville who took over for a play. Narduzzi is unsure, though, which quarterback would come in for Pickett at Miami. It's too early in the week to tell. "It depends on how good of a week every quarterback has. Whichever quarterback has the best week will be the guy who comes in," Narduzzi said. "I wish we had a true Number 2 right now, but we don't." - Pittsburgh Post Gazette


(DS#4 QB) Sr/2021 QB Kenny PickettPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
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  10/14/20 - Jimmy MorrisseyrSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-2, 305 (DS#4 C) + More +

  The last time Pitt lineman Jimmy Morrissey played guard in a game was his freshman year at La Salle College High School outside Philadelphia. So Saturday was a bit different for the first-team All-ACC center. No, your eyes didn't deceive you. Morrissey was moved from snapping duties to right guard against Boston College after Jake Kradel, Pitt's regular right guard, suffered a minor injury in practice this past week on a "freak play," Narduzzi said. Kradel could have played, but the coaching staff didn't want to risk his health and possibly lose him for the season. The Butler native traveled with the team, and Narduzzi said he expects him to be back in the lineup next week at Miami. So, Pitt offensive line coach Dave Borbely approached Morrissey about playing guard this week. The two-time captain obliged, saying he'd do "whatever the team needs." Redshirt junior Owen Drexel started at center, and the two played well given the circumstances. - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

(DS#4 C) rSr/2021 C Jimmy MorrisseyPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
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  10/12/20 - Patrick Jones IIrSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 6-4, 260 (DS#4 DE) + More +

  OCT 12 ACC DEFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: Patrick Jones II, Pitt, Sr., DE, Chesapeake, Va.,...Continued to solidify his status as one of the top pass rushers in the country in Saturday's 31-30 overtime loss at Boston College...Collected three sacks for losses totaling 40 yards...Now owns an ACC-best seven sacks on the season and ranks seventh nationally with an average of 1.40 sacks per game. - ACC Football

(DS#4 DE) rSr/2021 DE Patrick Jones IIPittsburgh
News Source: ACC Football
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  10/12/20 - SirVocea DennisSo/2023, Pittsburgh, 6-1, 230 (DS#16 OLB) + More +

  OCT 12 ACC LINEBACKER OF THE WEEK: SirVocea Dennis, Pitt, So., OLB, Syracuse, N.Y.,...Making his first collegiate start, registered a game-high 11 tackles - including 4.5 tackles for loss - with a sack assist against Boston College...The single-game tackle-for-loss total is the highest by an ACC defender this year and is tied for the most nationally. - ACC Football

(DS#16 OLB) So/2023 OLB SirVocea DennisPittsburgh
News Source: ACC Football
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  10/10/20 - DJ TurnerrSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 5-09, 205 (DS#140 WR) + More +

  As late as midway through training camp, D.J. Turner was just a name on somebody else's roster. If he had walked through the doors of Pitt's practice facility almost any day in August, he might have been asked to leave. Yet, here he is, shouldering much of the responsibility to make Pitt's offense go. Where would the Panthers have been without Turner's eight catches for 186 yards in the loss to N.C. State last Saturday? Definitely not within two points of winning. After four games, Turner leads the ACC and is eighth in the nation with 319 yards in receptions. Yes, Pitt has played four games - one or two more than 13 of the 14 other teams in the conference - but that doesn't diminish his productivity or offensive coordinator Mark Whipple's trust in his 5-foot-9 wide receiver.

He is here largely because the Big Ten postponed the start of its season, and Turner wanted a guaranteed place to play. Also, a big tip of the cap to Turner's brother, Mark Hayes, who played for Pat Narduzzi a quarter-century ago when Pitt's coach was an assistant at Rhode Island. Turner was set to play for Maryland this season. "I definitely planned on having a big season," he said. "But it goes to show that I'm here for a reason." - Pittsburgh Post Gazette


(DS#140 WR) rSr/2021 WR DJ TurnerPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
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  10/05/20 - DJ TurnerrSr/2021, Pittsburgh, 5-09, 205 (DS#140 WR) + More +

  OCT 5 ACC CO-RECEIVER OF THE WEEK: DJ Turner, Pitt, Sr., WR, Glenarden, Md.,...Compiled the highest receiving yardage by a Pitt player in nearly 16 years in Saturday's 30-29 loss to visiting NC State...Averaged 23.3 yards per catch with eight receptions for 186 yards, most by a Pitt player since Nov. 6, 2004, when Greg Lee had 188 yards on nine receptions at Syracuse...Turner, who joined the Panthers in August from Maryland, has 17 catches for a team-high 319 yards (18.8 avg.) and a touchdown so far this season...Leads the ACC and ranks eighth nationally in total receiving yards. - Atlantic Coast Conference Football

(DS#140 WR) rSr/2021 WR DJ TurnerPittsburgh
News Source: Atlantic Coast Conference Football
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  10/02/20 - Vincent DavisSo/2023, Pittsburgh, 5-08, 175 (DS#58 RB) + More +

  Vincent Davis doesn't have the frame you'd normally associate with a bell-cow back. But with 42 carries so far this year, third-most in the ACC, the sophomore is holding up just fine - making guys miss and even doling out some hits himself as he tries to cement his spot atop Pitt's depth chart. "Vince is one of the toughest guys on the team. He prides himself on that," Pitt captain and quarterback Kenny Pickett said after Davis' 18-touch, 76-yard game against Louisville. "He's a smaller guy, but it takes two or three to bring him down. He's a guy I love playing with, a guy who plays full tilt." "We always knew him as a game-breaker," DuBuc said. "He runs like he's a fullback but can change direction like a 150-pound back. He's just an explosive guy."

Though the coaching staff would like to see more on the ground - blocking for 8 yards and getting 28, as Pat Narduzzi said earlier in the season - Davis has provided that pop to an aspect of Pitt's offense that was severely lacking last year. Anyone who watched Pitt in 2019 knows how non-existent the running game was. The Panthers ranked 100th nationally in rushing attempts and 118th in rushing yards per game. Perhaps more telling, Pitt had only nine rushing plays of 20-plus yards. The only Football Bowl Subdivision team that played 13 games and had fewer was Washington State. It appeared early on this season that Pitt might lack that explosion again. After all, Pickett and wide receiver Jordan Addison accounted for the Panthers' longest rushes in the opener against Austin Peay. - Pittsburgh Post Gazette


(DS#58 RB) So/2023 RB Vincent DavisPittsburgh
News Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
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