Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
Though the 2023 season didn’t go as well as many thought it should, the 3-9 Panthers still had some strong individual player performances. One such player was senior cornerback M.J. Devonshire who was named to the All-ACC second team.
Devonshire led the Panthers in interceptions with 4 and pass breakups with 10. His 4 interceptions were the most by a Panthers defender since Jason Hendricks with 6 in 2012. Devonshire returned an interception 86 yards for a touchdown to seal a 38-21 victory over then-undefeated Louisville. His 3 career interception returns for touchdowns is tied for all-time Pitt record and one shy of the ACC mark.
Devonshire’s big play ability and willingness to stop the run has him sliding in as a possible 3rd round talent. Draft 412 thinks it is more likely that Devonshire falls into the 4th-5th round range, with his lack of desired length and his aggressiveness at times, which often is detrimental. There is no doubt, though, that Draft 412 thinks that M.J. Devonshire will be the first Pitt Panther off the board come April.
Four other Pitt players were named honorable mention All-ACC.
Tight End- Gavin Bartholomew
In what was an injury-filled season for junior tight end Gavin Bartholomew, he still had some brilliant moments and was Pitt’s best option in the pass game. He ended the season with 18 catches for 326 yards and a touchdown. His 18.1 yards per reception led the Panthers and with another year left of eligibility, it will be interesting to see what Bartholomew decides to do.
Draft 412 thinks he is more talented than where he will probably go in the draft this year if he came out. The only question is, will Pitt use him correctly if he decides to return?
Safety- Donovan McMillon
McMillon led the Panthers in tackles even though he did not begin the season as a starter. His 105 tackles were the most by a Pitt player since Jordan Whitehead had 109 in 2015.
McMillon is in the same situation as Bartholomew and coming back to school may make sense for McMillon. He was a tackling machine, but he also made some bad mistakes in missing tackles and taking unnecessary unsportsmanlike penalties. He needs to show he can play controlled and aggressive.
Just like Bartholomew, he is looking at being a late round pick if he enters this year.
Wide Receiver- Bub Means
Senior Bub Means had a roller coaster of a year. In his first 4 games, he had several bad drops and moments of laziness where he did not battle on 50/50 balls. Yet he led the Panthers in receiving with 41 receptions and 721 yards, and scored 6 touchdowns in his last 8 games. He has the speed to get a look in the 7th round, but most likely will be a UDFA who will have to earn a spot on an NFL team.
Kick Returner- Kenny Johnson
The freshman wide receiver was named an honorable mention All-ACC as a kick returner. Draft 412 thinks he will be an All-ACC wide receiver in the upcoming years.
Johnson is an electric playmaker who averaged 23.1 yards per kick return, which includes a 100-yard touchdown return against North Carolina. Johnson is one of the most talented players on the Pitt Panthers moving forward and hopefully Pitt finds that next quarterback who can get the ball in his hands.