In 2004, The University of Pittsburgh was searching for help along the defensive line and they ventured to Belle Glade, FL to find it. Pitt was fortunate to land a pair of outstanding linemen from Glades Central High School: Rashaad Duncan and Tommy Duhart. Both players will be taking the field for the Panthers in 2007. One of them had to take a lengthier route to Pittsburgh.
Rugged tackle Rashaad Duncan was the first to join the Pitt football program. Duncan attended the Panthers’ summer football camp and impressed the coaching staff with his combination of size and speed. He was offered a scholarship shortly after camp and he accepted a few weeks later. Duncan became the 7th member to join Pitt’s football recruiting class of 2005. Rashaad, a stout 6-foot-2 inches, 290 pounds, is currently one of the Panthers top defensive tackles.
The other defensive lineman to commit to the Panthers was a large and athletic defensive end named Tommie Duhart. Duhart received scholarship offers from Pitt, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Illinois, Florida and South Florida. At a solid 6-foot-4 inches, 255 pounds, he was capable of bench pressing 370 pounds and running the forty-yard dash in 4.9 seconds. Unlike Duncan, his friend and teammate, he was unable to qualify academically join the Pitt football program. He initially enrolled at Butler Community College (El Dorado, KS) but his stay was a short one for a number of reasons. Tommie then opted to attend Coffeyville Community College (Coffeyville, KS) to improve academically and athletically.
After a follow-up visit to the University of Pittsburgh earlier this season, Duhart decided to re-commit to the Panthers. He has grown into a dominating 6-foot-5 inch, 290 pound defensive end. Scout.com ranks Tommie a “four-star” prospect.
To gain perspective on Duhart the PantherDigest.com spoke with Coffeyville Community College Defensive Coordinator Bob Majeski and Defensive Line Coach Sean Cherico.
“The University of Pittsburgh is getting a player that will help them immediately. They aren’t getting a player with limited experience. They are getting a player that has started ten games for us at defensive end and he has dominated,” stated Coach Majeski.
“Tommie is 6-foot-5 inches tall and around 285 to 290 pounds. He’s a big one. Panther fans are going to love him,” he said. “He always has a smile on his face and he’s always in a good mood. His attitude is infectious. He’s the type of person you want t to be around. Everyone on our defense looked up to him. Tommie was a leader on and off the field.”
Duhart is having an outstanding season for the Ravens. He has registered 16 solo tackles, 27 assisted tackles, 10 tackles for a loss (46 total lost yards), 6 ½ sacks (33 total lost yards), 12 quarterback hurries, 4 batted balls, 2 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries and 2 blocked field goals. Tommie will have three years of eligibility at Pitt.
“Tommie brings his lunch bucket to every practice and every game. He’s a big, physical player with amazing speed for his size. His physical strength is a huge advantage for him. He can overpower the player across from him and run down anyone on the field. He played defensive end for our team because we wanted to best utilize his speed. I’m not sure where Pitt will put him. He can play any position along the defensive line.”
“There were times when Tommie simply decided to take over a game. He’s that good. If we were struggling, he would tell our defense “come on guys” and go out and make a big play. That’s how good he is.”
Coach Majeski indicated that a myriad of upper echelon football programs attempted to sway Duhart from his commitment to Pitt. “Pitt fans need to know that Tommie could have played for any team in the SEC, ACC, etc. We had a ton of coaches come through here and ask to speak with him,” he said. “Tommie never wavered from his commitment to Pitt. He always told me “Coach, I’m heading to Pittsburgh.” There aren’t many players that do that anymore. He’s has a tremendous amount of integrity. He honors his commitment.”
“I have been coaching at Coffeyville for the last twelve years. We have had five All-American caliber defensive linemen. Tommie is as good as any of them,” stated Coffeyville Community College Defensive Line Coach Sean Cherico
“Tommie may be one of the best athletes we have on the team. He’s truly unbelievable. He has outstanding feet and hands. This may sound odd coming from a defensive line coach, but I believe Tommie could play offensive tackle in the National Football League. He’s that big and that athletic.”
Duhart and Duncan led Glades Central High School to an outstanding 12-1 record as seniors. Tommy registered 58 tackles (11 for a loss), 4sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 blocked punt from his defensive end position. He was named first-team All-Palm Beach County and second-team Class 3A All-State.
“We have had a lot of coaches from conferences from the ACC to the SEC come through here and want him on their team. I believe he could play for any team in the country. He’s a very strong player with exceptional speed. We have him as our strong side defensive end but Pitt could move him to tackle.”
“Let me say this: Tommie Duhart has made me look like a better coach.”
NOTE: Duhart will be joined by fellow class of 2007 defensive end Myles Caragein (6-foot-2 inches, 260 pounds) from Keystone Oaks High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Caragein was recently named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22” .