Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt Stood by Recruit Long before His Commitment

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt Stood by Recruit Long before His Commitment

Article excerpt

In the effervescent persona he slips into when it comes time to recruit, Pat Narduzzi likes to tell Jaylen Twyman he reminds him of a certain former Pitt defensive lineman.

"You look like a little baby Aaron Donald," he says. "We slim you down a little bit, you'll look like him."

Whoa, now. Comparing a high school senior to one of the most decorated players in Pitt history and a two-time NFL All-Pro might be a bit unfair, not Narduzzi's intention. But he is high on Twyman, the baby-faced defensive tackle from Washington, D.C., who signed his letter of intent with the Panthers on national signing day Wednesday.

Technically, Twyman - a three-star prospect on but given four stars by ESPN - was a recruit who went down to the wire. He never publicly committed to the Panthers until Wednesday, choosing them over South Carolina, but that's not quite how it happened.

It was midseason when Twyman first insisted to Narduzzi that he would eventually become a Panther, but the coach has been burned by that line from recruits too many times to believe it wholeheartedly.

"I'm like, 'Hey Jaylen, I've heard that before, I can't trust you, bro,' " Narduzzi recalled with a smile. "We heard it over and over again, but he was a guy that's been loyal throughout the whole time."

Perhaps Twyman felt he owed it to Narduzzi.

He has endured a rough life growing up in the nation's capital. When he was 5 his father went to prison for 10 years for selling drugs. He had an uncle shot and killed in 2015. Perhaps most crushing for Twyman, his brother Tayvon Cummings was murdered in May. But Twyman said Narduzzi and his staff were there nearly every step of the way.

"He's the most loyal, down-to-earth coach I've ever met," Twyman said. "I lost my brother in a tragic shooting, and they were there the whole way. They flew in, they checked in on me almost every day of the wake."

Of course, he likes what defensive coordinator Josh Conklin and defensive line coach Tom Sims have in store for him, too. At 6 feet 2, 315 pounds, Twyman has visions of himself dancing all over opponents like he did when he posted 91 tackles and eight sacks his senior year in high school. …

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