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Late charge adds to Pitt recruiting class

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Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi made an immediate impact on the recruiting trail upon taking over at Pitt a year ago.

The then-new head coach closed strong on four-star recruits Jordan Whitehead and Darrin Hall, both of whom made immediate impacts as true freshmen.

Narduzzi got off to a solid start on the 2016 class as well, collecting eight commitments before his team gathered for training camp in early-August. He closed strong again this year, as December saw Pitt land a pair of defensive ends from ACC country and convince two Rutgers commits to change their minds. He also added a four-star Ohio athlete.

Charlotte, N.C. product Zack Gilbert, son of former Pitt great Sean Gilbert, and Chesapeake, Va.'s Patrick Jones are defensive ends who fill immediate needs, while safety Phil Campbell of New Jersey and offensive lineman Justin Morgan of Brooklyn both flipped from Rutgers to Pitt.

Late December saw an early Christmas gift for Pitt as Ohio athlete George Hill chose the Panthers over Michigan State and Wisconsin. Hill, ranked as the No. 2 running back in Ohio, could play cornerback, safety, running back or even receiver at Pitt.

As the weather got colder in Pittsburgh, Narduzzi was heating up on the recruiting trail.

A week before signing day, four-star defensive tackle Amir Watts chose the Panthers over 24 other schools, including Penn State, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

Forty-eight hours before signing day, four-star defensive back Damar Hamlin of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, ranked as the top defensive player in Pennsylvania, picked Pitt over Ohio State and Penn State. That same day, Clairton wide receiver Aaron Mathews changed his commitment from Penn State to Pitt.

On signing day, two Florida defensive tackles who had been committed elsewhere both decided to sign with Pitt. Kenyon Camp, a USC pledge, ultimately picked Pitt over Ohio State, Michigan, Missouri and Southern Cal. Rashad Weaver, who committed to Michigan in the summer only to be told a week before signing day that the Wolverines no longer wanted his services, chose to sign with Pitt instead of Penn State, Temple and South Florida.

Sixteen of Pitt's 24 additions are on defense -- seven defensive linemen, six defensive backs and three linebackers -- as Narduzzi aims to solidify his team's weaknesses.

Central Catholic's Hamlin leads the way in the secondary. Four-star linebacker Kaezon Pugh of Aliquippa and Chase Pine of Virginia are potential difference makers.

Half of the class comes from either Ohio or Pennsylvania, with western PA sending seven players to Pitt. Brashear's Therran Coleman, Upper St. Clair's Brandon Ford, Central Catholic's Hamlin, Bricen Garner and Rashad Wheeler, Clairton's Mathews and Aliquippa's Pugh are all on their way to Pitt. Five Ohio prospects, including four-star recruits Ruben Flowers and Hill, have also signed with Pitt.

Quarterback Thomas MacVittie, who could be in the mix to replace current starter Nate Peterman as early as 2017, was an under the radar prospect before Pitt offerend him last spring. He ended his senior season with LSU chasing after him, trying to get him to flip his commitment.

MacVittie, along with other Pitt prospects like Maurice Ffrench, Henry Miller and Chase Pine, all were pursued by other progam late n the process. All stayed committed to Pitt.

Pitt's class is ranked 30th in the country.

PITT RECRUITING CLASS OF 2016
Keyshon Camp DT (6-4, 275) Lakeland, FL/Lake Gibson
Phil Campbell DB/RB (6-1, 195) Monmouth Junction, NJ/South Brunswick
*Chris Clark TE (6-6, 245) Ridgewood, NJ/Acon Old Farms (Conn.)/UCLA
Therran Coleman DB (6-0, 190) Pittsburgh, PA/Brashear
Maurice Ffrench WR (5-11, 185) New Brunswick, NJ/New Brunswick
Ruben Flowers WR (6-3, 190) Lima, OH/Lima
Brandon Ford OL (6-5, 295) Pittsburgh, PA/Upper St. Clair
Bricen Garner DB (6-1, 175) Pittsburgh, PA/Central Catholic
Zack Gilbert DE (6-1, 240) Charlotte, NC/South Mecklenburg
Bryce Hargrove DT (6-4, 260) Akron, OH/Coventry
Damar Hamlin DB (6-1, 185) McKees Rocks, PA/Central Catholic
George Hill ATH (5-11, 200) Hubbard, OH/Hubbard
Patrick Jones DE (6-5, 250) Chesapeake, VA/Grassfield
Thomas MacVittie QB (6-5, 225) Cincinnati, OH/Moeller
Aaron Mathews WR (6-4, 190) Clairton, PA/Clairton
Henry Miller CB (6-3, 205) Kissimmee, FL/Gateway
Justin Morgan OL (6-6, 365) Brooklyn, NY/Poly Prep
Chawntez Moss RB (5-11, 195) Bedford, OH/Bedford
Chase Pine LB (6-2, 220) Williamsburg, VA/Lafayette
Kaezon Pugh LB (6-1, 210) Aliquippa, PA/Aliquippa
Elias Reynolds LB (6-2, 225) Brooklyn, NY/Poly Prep
Amir Watts DT (6-2, 270) Chicago, IL/Phillips Academy
Rashad Weaver DL (6-5, 255) Cooper City, FL/Cooper City
Rashad Wheeler DT (6-3, 280) Pittsburgh, PA/Central Catholic
Zack Williams OL (6-5, 275) Citra, FL/North Marion
*transfer

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