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Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi keeps his recruiting eye on New Jersey

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New Jersey has long been a fertile recruiting ground for Pitt football coaches, dating to the final days of Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt. It remains so for current coach Pat Narduzzi, who has crossed Pennsylvania's eastern border aggressively, signing eight New Jersey athletes in four recruiting classes -- not counting the two verbal commits he has for 2019.

But something happened earlier in this decade amidst the turnover of coaches. The interstate pipeline that carried Joe Flacco, Oderick Turner, Dion Lewis, Jason Hendricks, Ray Graham, T.J. Clemmings and K'Waun Williams to Pitt became clogged for a few years.

You can't say Wannstedt's successor, Todd Graham, failed to recruit New Jersey. Graham didn't have any N.J. recruits in his lone Pitt class (2011), but he wasn't around long enough (11 months) to be accused of ignoring the state.

Paul Chryst's stay was two years longer than Graham's. But he signed just three in three years, including offensive tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith, who lived in Camden, N.J., but went to high school in Philadelphia.

The other two -- defensive lineman Reggie Green and wide receiver Adonis Jennings -- ended up transferring to Robert Morris and Temple, respectively. Jennings was a star at Temple last season, catching 42 passes for 742 yards and seven touchdowns.

The two who have yet to play their senior seasons of high school -- defensive end Bryce Nelms of West Orange, N.J., and tight end Jason Collier of Westville, N.J. -- are considered by Hunt among the best players in the state.