The Pitt courtside at Acrisure Stadium was packed with recruits and recruiters ahead of Thursday night’s West Virginia-Pitt game. One man — Pitt’s unofficial recruiter — stood out from the crowd.
Tony Dorset, Pitt’s only Heisman Trophy winner, had a lively conversation with Austin Dunfitch (Ohio) High School defensive end Brian Robinson, a four-star junior rookie.
Dorset, one of several former Pitt players at the West Virginia-Pitt game, said he told Robinson, “You come here and your family can come to see you.”
Was Robinson in awe when standing in front of the Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl and National Champions?
“Yes, just a little bit,” Dorset said. “He’s been holding on.”
The backyard brawl holds many memories for Dorsett, who won 3-1 against the Climbers during his time at the Pitt.
What does he remember?
“Fight,” he said.
“You’re definitely going to see at least four or five games in the stands. The fans sometimes like it more than the players, I think.”
West Virginia fans brought their own spirit to the game when Pitt visited Morgantown, he said.
“They’re great fans of the Climbers,” Dorset said. “Talking, they screamed, they cursed our coach. They did all kinds of things to try and break our rhythm on offense.”
on the national stage
Pitt ventured onto the ESPN stage Thursday night and wasn’t actively seeking national recognition, but he realized next week’s wins over West Virginia and Tennessee could put the No. 17 Panthers in the top 10.
Rece Davis, ESPN’s “GameDay” team member for pregame analysis, understands that respect can be a difficult award to earn.
“I don’t think they got the credit they deserved and they deserved,” Davis told reporters before the game. “One of the ways they can correct is to build a championship season by going after another.”
Davis said Pitt doesn’t need to repeat as an ACC champion to earn that respect, but an early-season win wouldn’t hurt. An important first step is to avoid what he calls “the facial flora that comes with that inexplicable restlessness that plagues them from time to time.”
“If they win this (WVU) game – big stage, big competition, huge crowd – maybe play the ACC championship game again, or definitely play a solid football on the cusp of this game, I Think about it and you can see the program take the next step.”
He said the progress over the past year under coach Pat Narduzzi has earned Pitt more credit “than many non-Pittsburgh fans or fans outside of the ACC’s direct footprint have given them. More honor.”
ESPN’s Desmond Howard, who won the 1991 Heisman Trophy and is now one of the most high-profile analysts in college football, predicted ahead of Thursday’s game that Pitt has the potential to make it to a four-team postseason. conditions required for the competition.
“I’ve always respected Narduzzi’s plans because I think his kids, they breathe like that tough mentality,” he said before the game. “They’re physical (and) it’s kind of a little old school on the melee line in the trenches, so I’ve always respected that.
“They’ve also become like a monster defensive line, which should cause problems for the team. If you win the conference championship, I think you have a good chance of getting in (CFP).”