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Panthers' Hall of Fame Inductees

by J.T. Toth

Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics.

On Monday morning, University of Pittsburgh Director of Athletics, Heather Lyke, announced the 2023 Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame induction class. A distinguished 12-member group representing seven different sports. Draft 412 will dive into the four members of the Pitt football program who were inducted.

Larry Fitzgerald-WR- 2002-2003

Considered one of the best wide receivers in college football history. Fitzgerald starred at Pitt from 2002-2003 before taking his talents to the NFL. In just 26 collegiate games, Fitzgerald totaled 161 catches for 2,677 yards (16.6 avg) and a Pitt-record 34 touchdowns. Fitzgerald caught a TD in an NCAA record 18 straight games. He set or tied four NCAA records, 8 Big East records, and 11 Pitt marks.

In 2003, Fitzgerald had one of the best seasons by a wide receiver in NCAA history. He compiled 92 catches for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns. Facing double and even triple teams, he led the country in yards per game (128.62 avg). He was named the 2003 Walter Camp Player of the Year, becoming the first sophomore to win the award. He also won the Biletnikoff Award as the country’s top receiver and was a unanimous first team All-American. Fitzgerald would be selected third overall in the 2004 draft (Eli Manning, Robert Gallery) by the Arizona Cardinals. Fitzgerald played all 17 seasons with the Cardinals and was an 11-time Pro-Bowler and a member of the NFL 100 All-Time Team. He ranks second in NFL history in receiving yards with 17,492 and receptions with 1,432. He ranks 6th all-time in touchdown receptions with 121.

Ruben Brown-OT- 1991-1994

Brown was a four-year starter at Pitt from 1991-1994. Initially a defensive line prospect, he moved to offense as a redshirt freshman and would become a three-time All-Big East selection, and as a senior, earned first team All-American accolades. Brown was selected by the Buffalo Bills 14th overall in the 1995 draft. Moved to guard he would make eight consecutive Pro Bowls (1996-2003). Brown would conclude his career by playing four seasons with the Chicago Bears. He was named to Buffalo’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 2009. He received enshrinement into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Matt Cavanaugh-QB- 1974-1977

Considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in Pitt history, Cavanaugh led the Pitt undefeated march in 1976, capping the season off with an MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia. As a senior in 1977, Cavanaugh was a first team All-American. He would take home the Gator Bowl MVP in his last collegiate game, a 34-3 win over Clemson.

Cavanaugh would be selected in the second round of the 1978 draft by the New England Patriots. He played five seasons with the Patriots, then spent nine more seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (1983-1985), Philadelphia Eagles (1986-1989), and New York Giants (1990-1991). Cavanaugh would win three Super Bowl rings in his career. Two as a player (1984-San Francisco, 1990-NY Giants) and one as an offensive coordinator (Baltimore Ravens-2000).

Chris Doleman-DE- 1981-1984

Chris Doleman was a dominant defensive end for the Pitt Panthers who started day one. Doleman is 8th all-time in Panthers history with 25 sacks. He helped earn the Panthers three top 20 finishes, including #2 in 1981. Doleman was the 4th overall pick in 1985 by the Minnesota Vikings. He played 15 seasons in the NFL and is considered one of the best pass rushers in NFL history. He was an eight-time pro bowler, three-time first team All-Pro and was selected as a member of the All-Decade team of the 90’s. Doleman’s 150.5 sacks rank 5th all-time in NFL history. He was inducted into the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

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