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February 1, 2018

Been quite a bit of stuff for Pitt football with some coaching changes and the final signing day looming. Not going to get to them all, but I’ll touch on yesterday’s news.

Pitt grabbed a new assistant and a grad transfer from MAC schools yesterday. Both seem like good additions.

On the player side, Pitt likely has its left tackle for next year.

[Stefano] Millin was a two-year starter for Kent STate, carrying a 27-game streak of consecutive starts that included every game in 2016 and 2017. As a redshirt sophomore in 2016, he started games at right tackle and center. Last year, he was exclusively at left tackle, where he started all 12 contests.

When he gets to Pitt later this spring, Millin plans to step in at that same position.

“With Brian O’Neill doing to the NFL, they needed a left tackle,” Millin told shortly after committing. “And when I talked to Coach Narduzzi just now he said he’d be shocked if I don’t win the job. Nothing is given, I understand that, but it’s really a good opportunity and my plan is to go in and be the left tackle.”

While Millin is likely to stay at left tackle, he is versatile enough to be moved around on the line. Something Coach Pat Narduzzi likes to have available in his offensive linemen. Millin was originally going to go to Cinci for his final season of eligibility, but Pitt and Narduzzi convinced him otherwise. Even without a new OL Coach in place.

The other move is filling that new coaching position. Archie Collins was hired away from Central Michigan. He doesn’t have title other then “10th assistant because the NCAA allowed it.”

Collins’ influence helped Central Michigan in 2017 lead the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in interceptions (19), fewest passing yards allowed (185.5 yards/game) and pass efficiency defense (108.8 rating). On a national scale, the Chippewas ranked sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense, seventh in interceptions and 20th in passing defense. FootballScoop named Collins a finalist for the 2017 Defensive Back Coach of the Year award.

“Archie is a fantastic coach and highly driven recruiter,” Narduzzi said. “We wanted our 10th assistant coach appointment to be an impactful hire and we achieved that by bringing Archie to Pitt. I first met him when he was a high school coach in Detroit and later I had him as a graduate assistant. Archie went on to do really exceptional work at Central Michigan and he’ll be a great asset for our entire program. I’m thrilled to welcome him and his family to Pitt.”

Collins is considered an excellent recruiter in Michigan and Ohio. While Narduzzi obviously has a connection to him from Collins’ time as a graduate assistant, the path is a little different. Collins is a little older and more mature.

Collins graduated from Michigan State in 1998 and played safety for the Spartans. From there he worked in the high school coaching ranks in the Detroit area. Then he came back to MSU for grad school and to become a grad assistant.

He obviously made an impact as he moved to CMU as their secondary coach.

Most recently, Collins forged a reputation as one of the top coaches in the Mid-American Conference. In 2015, he was named the MAC’s Recruiter of the Year by , but he also apparently knew what to do with those players when he got them on the field.

After four seasons as Central Michigan’s secondary coach, he was promoted to defensive passing game coordinator last year when the Chippewas led the MAC in interceptions (19, seventh in the nation), fewest passing yards allowed (an average of 185.5 yards per game, 20th) and pass efficiency defense (108.8 rating, sixth).

Central Michigan cornerback Amari Coleman and safety Josh Cox were All-MAC selections. Coleman returned three interceptions for touchdowns in his career and Cox was seventh in the nation in interceptions last year with six.

Central Michigan ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams in passing defense in 2017, 2015 (No. 24, 193.0 average) and 2013 (No. 20, 203.9). In 2016, CMU finished eighth nationally with four defensive touchdowns — all pick-sixes by defensive backs.

Cynically, the thought could be that Secondary Coach Renaldo Hill could be on the move shortly after the second signing day. There was a lot of interest in Hill that he has turned down to this point. It may be a move is coming and Collins will move right into that vacated position — and reopening the available coaching spot. Or he could have a totally different job designation if Hill does stay.

Maybe Narduzzi goes the route of co-DC

Comment by notrocketscience 02.01.18 @ 8:54 am

Hope Stefano Millin dosen’t turn into Monty Boykins.

Comment by alcofan 02.01.18 @ 10:57 am

Millin is legit, don’t worry.

Comment by 2$Chuck 02.01.18 @ 6:39 pm

Since the beginning of January our head coach and coaches have been spending thousands on traveling to different parts of the country trying to find recruits. They have use of a private jet , have been bringing in kids on weekends etc. The results have been disappointing to say the least. We seem to be adding transfers and walk-ons and some people call this progress. This is pure desperation at a huge cost.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 02.02.18 @ 12:11 am

The effort is there, the intangibles aren’t

— playing in an oversized stadium and many empty seats
— located in an area where quality FB recruits continue to decrease at an alarming rate
— an unstable program which has had 5 head coaches and 3 ADs in this decade alone
— a recent history of mediocrity

and don’t think these things aren’t mentioned to these recruits by rival recruiters

Comment by wbb 02.02.18 @ 7:51 am

wbb – your first point above is a valid concern with regard to recruiting, none of your other points really have any specific merit relative to Pitt, not to say that an opposing coach may not try to use language like that, but very few recruits are that stupid.

alcofan – I know you’re speaking ‘tongue & cheek’, but honestly there’s no comparison between the Millin & Boykins situations. There are many quality players in MAC football that can legitimately play for ACC schools and quite a few that go on to the NFL, so generally speaking, bringing in a guy who started every game on the OL for the past 2 years and will be a senior is a no-brainer, especially in an area of need (OL). This doesn’t mean he’ll be a good player for us, but the odds are in his favor of being at least solid, and at the very least provide quality depth. In contrast, Boykins may be a great kid, and good for him, he got a chance to play at Pitt, but he came from Lafayette (Lafayette!!!) and had a very clear body of work during his years there so that we could all see he would not be able to compete in ACC hoops, there was simply no way. Of all the head-scratching things Stallings has done to this point, bringing in Boykins tops the list to me. Think about it, we ran Nix off the team, and he would have been a much better player than Boykins. There’s simply no comparison between this situation and Millin.

Comment by 1618mt 02.02.18 @ 9:30 am

Do you really think playing in a packed 45,000 seat stadium would change anything?

Yes Pitt has obstacles. Narduzzi has to overcome them, if we are to get better.

There are plenty of positive things to sell about Pitt.

What is Stallings excuse? He has a great place to play. There were always few Local players available, until recently we had a great record. No unstable program.

Comment by gc 02.02.18 @ 9:49 am

I thought that Nix could have helped this yr.

Comment by alcofan 02.02.18 @ 9:20 pm

Can’t wait to see what Junior college, transfers and walk-on’s the Duzz picks up.
I really like the stupidity of him offering high school underclassmen scholarships, like it will make a difference. Nothing more than smoke and mirrors to make up for not being able to bring in some recruits for next year.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 02.03.18 @ 11:50 pm

wbb & Dreamer,

Clearly this past season was a downer but don’t let it cloud your view — I think big things are on the horizon, starting in 2018. I think Pickett just scratched the surface with the VTech and Miami games and the kid is legit…like All-American potential legit. And I expect very good things from the Hall/Ollison tandem at RB. I think the O could be really good next year, and it will fall on Narduzzi and the DC to get the D up to speed. Can’t wait for Spring ball and the early reports on position battles.

Comment by Matt N. 02.04.18 @ 2:37 pm

Hey, we just recruited an “under the radar” player, things are really looking up. LOL.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 02.04.18 @ 3:56 pm

Matt M. Pickett played in one complete game so far against a sleeping Miami team. Please don’t go off the deep end with All-American talk. Let the kid play at least part of the next season to make judgements. Teams will have a chance to prepare against a track record instead of a kid that just came off the bench. It will be a different story under sustained competition no matter how good he looked against Miami.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 02.04.18 @ 4:02 pm

I really miss the good old days when Pitt held camp at Pitt Johnstown with open practices and you could watch practices talk to support staff to get latest like how Ironhead was on a cornflakes diet because he came in to camp overweight, and meet the coaches one night. Football used to be a lot more fun

Comment by Pitt60 02.05.18 @ 12:10 pm

Pitt60 – Duzz is attempting to make Pitt FB fun again. This year he will finally have depth at almost every position. The big concern will be the Oline, but there will be a mix of experienced guys, older-veteran guys who have been in the system and a few young 4* guys (Drake & Warren) who want to play and will push for time.

The key on O will be how well OC Watson progresses – will he make the necessary connects with his play calling that produces points to win.

The D should be much improved and may even win a few games Lyke we saw in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

The LOI day and the Spring Game May be your only chance to see Pitt FB stuff live until the opening game. Our top secret HC thinks the enemy is spying on our 5-7 team. I don’t know what you can do about that.


Comment by Erie Express 02.07.18 @ 4:42 am

Dreamer — he played really well vs. VTech as well, and almost won that game for us if not for some really stupid play-calling by the OC/Narduzzi right at the end…if you want to discount what should have been a road win v VTech and a home win v Miami, go ahead but I think you’re being a little too cynical…especially given he was a true freshman.

Of course I’m not saying give him the Heisman already, just saying his potential looks very high…if our coaching staff doesn’t blow it, again.

Comment by Matt N. 02.07.18 @ 1:29 pm

Matt N. Call it cynical if you want but we have seen the same situations for years and it never materializes with wins. Maybe it will start to change but I just don’t see that happening. Your correct about Pickett but I want to see if it carries over in a solid manner this year.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 02.08.18 @ 4:22 am

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