Pitt gets 6 on list of top 100 football players in the ACC | TribLIVE.com
Pitt

Pitt gets 6 on list of top 100 football players in the ACC

Jerry DiPaola
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Pitt’s Damar Hamlin (3) celebrates Therran Coleman’s interception against Syracuse in overtime to ice the game Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 at Heinz Field.

Inching closer to the start of the college football season, I came across some interesting reading that sheds what appears to be a clear light on the best players on Pitt’s team.

Jim Johnson (not that one, but the editor of southernpigskin.com) ranked the top 100 players in the ACC, and six Pitt players made the cut.

Johnson uses raw data, his opinions and the eye test to come up with his rankings. The Pitt players on the list are six of the best and most important on the team, minus one — junior quarterback Kenny Pickett.

How Pickett goes, so goes Pitt’s season, but he also will need great gobs of help from his teammates, especially the rebuilt offensive line. Johnson lists him No. 10 on his quarterback list, behind former Pitt commit and eventual Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook (No. 9), now a grad transfer at Florida State. By the way, Hornibrook is no lock to start for the Seminoles because James Blackman is still there.

The Pitt players on Johnson’s top 100 are split evenly between offense and defense. Here how he ranks them, with the overall and (position ranking):

Dane Jackson, No. 20 (6), cornerback: The senior from Quaker Valley is entering his third season as a starter. He has three career interceptions and was an honorable mention All-ACC performer last season.

Rashad Weaver, No. 23 (4), defensive end: Weaver has been a bit underrated as an edge rusher, but he is rated highly by Johnson and it’s a projection that’s difficult to argue. Weaver, a junior, more than doubled his sack total to 61/2 last season, and double digits appear to be in his future.

Taysir Mack, No. 60, (8), wide receiver: The junior transfer from Indiana improved his per-catch average from 13.5 in 2017 with the Hoosiers to 22.3 last season at Pitt. It would not be a surprise if he doubled his catch total from 25.

Jimmy Morrissey, No. 77, (2), center: Johnson ranks Morrissey, a junior, the No. 2 center in the conference behind Dillon Reinkensmeyer of Virginia. We’ll see for ourselves who’s No. 1 when the ’Hoos come to Heinz Field for the opener Aug. 31.

Damar Hamlin, No. 93 (12), safety: The senior from McKees Rocks and Central Catholic will be one of the leaders of the defense this season. Hamlin had 90 tackles (three behind the line of scrimmage), plus four pass breakups, two interceptions and a fumble recovery last season.

Maurice Ffrench, No. 95, (11), wide receiver: Ffrench can be a game-breaker on special teams and scrimmage plays. He averaged 14.7 yards per catch last season and had 19 carries for 164 yards. Wouldn’t be surprised if offensive coordinator Mark Whipple is spending his summer thinking of ways to get the ball into Ffrench’s hands more often.

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Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pitt
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