Pitt football notebook: Narduzzi adds coaches from Florida to staff
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi's attempt to make Florida a prime recruiting target didn't stop when he signed seven players from there last month.First, he named Charlie Partridge his new defensive line coach. Partridge, who recruited Florida when he was a Pitt assistant from 2003-07, was the head coach at Florida Atlantic the past three years.
Then, Narduzzi hired Graham Wilbert, another Florida Atlantic product, to be his new director of player personnel.
Wilbert, 26, served the past three seasons under Partridge in the same position. He replaces Fox Chapel graduate Dann Kabala, who has been at Pitt and on the staffs of two head coaches for the past five seasons.
“Dann had some other opportunities he wanted to investigate,” Narduzzi said. “We moved in a different direction. “We appreciate everything Dann has done in the last two years for us, but we're fired up about Graham and the ability he has to take our recruiting in a little bit different direction.
“I'm excited in just these last couple days (with) some of the new structural changes. Change is always good. It will make us all better.”
Narduzzi's recruiting classes were ranked 31st in 2016 and 37th this year, improving from 70th in 2015, according to Rivals.com.
Junior running back Darrin Hall, who missed most of the Pinstripe Bowl with a lower-body injury, will be limited during spring drills, Narduzzi said.
“He might be back to 90 percent,” the coach said. “He will not go out there and risk any injuries this spring.”
Hall has rushed for 417 yards the past two seasons.
Narduzzi is a little more optimistic about the return of defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, who hurt his foot in the opener last year and missed the rest of the season. His injury will be monitored this spring.
“Is he 100 percent healthy? Probably not,” Narduzzi said. “He's good enough to go out there and practice. We don't want to throw him out there and think he's 100 percent and beat him up.”
Offensive line shifts
Losing left offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty and left guard Dorian Johnson might force some reshuffling of the line.
Right tackle Brian O'Neill, chosen second-team All-ACC by conference coaches, might move to the left side. Narduzzi said center Alex Officer might shift to left guard, with junior Connor Dintino getting work at both positions.
Pugh: From LB to DE
Aliquippa's Kaezon Pugh, 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, has moved from linebacker to defensive end where Pitt must replace All-ACC selection Ejuan Price.
“The guy can really run,” Narduzzi said. “He might be a little bit bigger Ejuan Price. We're going to turn him into a Ejuan Price.
“He has a lot of work to do. He's raw, but he's looked great in our morning workouts.”Narduzzi also pointed out Pugh can play running back, which he did last year in practice on the scout team.
“His ball security is awful, but he can run,” the coach said.
Defensive end Zack Gilbert, who missed his freshman season in 2016 with a heart ailment, has not been cleared to return.
What about tight end ... ?
Until freshmen Grant Carrigan, Charles Reeves and Tyler Sear show up this summer, UCLA transfer Chris Clark, who had a knee injury while he sat out last season, will get most of the work at tight end.
“Clark isn't getting a break. He needs as many reps as he can get,” Narduzzi said.
The only other tight ends on the spring roster are Penn Hills' DeAndre Schifino and Nathan Bossory.
“We have some other things up our sleeves, too,” Narduzzi said. “It's definitely a concern. Maybe we'll play with five wideouts, I don't know. “If you take three (freshmen), at least one of them is going to come in play, right?”
... and long snapper?
Pitt also is looking for a long snapper to replace Pat Quirin. The spring candidates are Bossory and redshirt freshmen Brandon Ford of Upper St. Clair and Conrad Brake. Freshman Cal Adomitis, a Central Catholic graduate, like Quirin, arrives this summer.