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Pitt reportedly poaches Mississippi State staffer to be new director of recruiting

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Could we have the start of a budding rivalry between Pitt and Mississippi State? No, but the two programs did see one poach a staffer from the other.

A source told FootballScoop that Mississippi State assistant director of football operations Reed Case has taken the director of recruiting position at Pitt. Both positions are off-the-field roles but as anybody who has worked in a football office will tell you, each is crucial to the day-to-day success of a program.

Per the folks over at FootballScoop, this is one of the first big jobs that Case has had at an ACC program in the Northeast but he’s got a diverse background from stops at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and East Carolina among others.

The move by Pat Narduzzi fills the vacancy left behind by long-time staffer Mark Diethorn, who previously served as the Panthers’ director of recruiting for six years before heading to a new job at his alma mater of Virginia Tech last week.

Pitt officially loses football staffer to Virginia Tech

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Pitt’s on-field rivalry with Virginia Tech has now bled over to the off-field personnel side of the equation.

Following up on chatter that surfaced earlier in the week, Tech confirmed Wednesday that it has hired Mark Diethorn as the football program’s new Director of Player Personnel. The hiring marks a homecoming for Diethorn as he’s a 2007 graduate of the university.

Diethorn had spent the past six seasons at Pitt, serving as the Panthers’ Director of Recruiting since Pat Narduzzi was hired in 2015.

“Mark will serve in a key role for us as our director of player personnel,” Hokies head coach Justin Fuente said in a statement. “His longstanding relationships with coaches across our region and his passion for Virginia Tech are just some of the qualities that made him the right person for us. Mark is very bright and talented, but it also became very apparent he shares a vision for the type of young men who will fit at Virginia Tech, in terms of work ethic, talent and their commitment to being successful academically.

“We’re excited to have him join our team and what we’re building in Blacksburg.”

As members of the ACC Coastal Division, the Hokies and Panthers have squared off each of the past six seasons. Prior to that, they met 11 times as members of the now-defunct Big East from 1991-2003.

Tech leads the all-time series 10-7.

Transferring Pitt lineman Tony Pilato moves on to Div. II

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A little over a month after leaving an ACC school, Tony Pilato has landed at one at another level of the sport.

According to a tweet from Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this past week, Pilato has decided to transfer to Slippery Rock University. As the Pennsylvania school plays at the Division II level, the offensive lineman will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

Additionally, Pilato will have another year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 as well.

Pilato was a three-star member of the Panthers’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania. He played in 12 games during his three years at Pitt, with all of that action coming last season.

Pitt announces addition of Arkansas transfer Will Gragg

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A little less than two months after leaving the SEC, Will Gragg has landed in the ACC.

Pitt announced in a press release Wednesday that Gragg has been added to Pat Narduzzi‘s football roster.  As Gragg, who transferred from Arkansas in mid-April, comes in as a graduate transfer, he is eligible to play for Pitt in 2018.

Not only that, but he’ll have another year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 as well.

“Our tight end room just got an immediate infusion of veteran talent with the addition of Will Gragg,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is a tremendously smart and tough competitor who will help us in the run and pass games. Will had a number of options following his graduation from Arkansas and we’re thrilled he picked Pitt to continue his academic and athletic careers.”

Pitt had been on the hunt for an experienced player at the tight end position since Chris Clark abruptly left the program in late March.

In his only action during his time with the Razorbacks, Gragg caught five passes for 61 yards in the 10 games in which he played last season.  Gragg took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2015 and did not see the field at all in 2016.

The 6-4, 231-pound Gragg was a four-star member of UA’s 2015 recruiting class who was rated as the No. 7 tight end in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arkansas.  Only two signees in the Hogs’ class that year were rated higher than Gragg.

Pitt, Wisconsin announce future home-and-home

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It’s been more than half a century since they last met, but a pair of teams from the ACC and Big Ten are set to get it on once again.  Eventually.

Both Pitt (head coach from 2012-14: Paul Chryst) and Wisconsin (current head coach: Paul Chryst) announced Thursday that the football programs have reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series.  The Panthers will travel to Madison on Sept. 19, 2026, while the Badgers will make the trek to Heinz Field the following season on Sept. 11.

“In speaking with (Wisconsin athletic director) Barry Alvarez, we both felt this was a great scheduling opportunity,” Alvarez’s Pitt counterpart, Heather Lyke, said in a statement. “Despite our regional proximity, we’ve rarely played each other in football. It is a challenging and compelling non-conference game that our respective teams and fans can look forward to.”

The two teams have played each other twice previously, with the most recent coming during the 1967 season.  The last time the Badgers faced the Panthers in Pittsburgh came in 1937.

Pitt has won all three games in the mini-series, two of which were played in Madison (1938, 1967).