Add two more names — including one former local standout and projected 2019 starter — to the list of players aiming to leave the West Virginia University football program.
Junior safety Derrek Pitts, a former standout at South Charleston High, has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. WVU confirmed the move Wednesday morning. Pitts joins fellow safety Kenny Robinson, an all-Big 12 safety last season and the Mountaineers projected starter at free safety, who put his name in the transfer portal on Tuesday.
Reserve safety Eugene Brown joined Pitts in the transfer portal Wednesday, the university also confirmed.
Pitts was the 2016 Gazette-Mail Kanawha Valley Player of the Year and Carl Lee Award winner as the top high school defensive back in the state of West Virginia. A four-star recruit at the time according to 247Sports, Pitts originally gave a verbal commitment to play at Penn State before changing his mind several months later and signing with West Virginia and then-coach Dana Holgorsen.
After beginning his collegiate career as a cornerback, Pitts made the move to bandit safety as a freshman where he recorded nine tackles while playing in 10 games that season for the Mountaineers.
Pitts made the move from safety back to corner in 2018, but bounced between the two positions during the season. He saw playing time in nine games as a sophomore while starting two of those — both at safety — and finished the season with 27 tackles, five tackles for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one interception.
Pitts also scored a touchdown in West Virginia’s loss at Iowa State last season, returning a blocked Cyclone field goal attempt for the score. His best game in a Mountaineer uniform came last season at home against Kansas, when Pitts had eight tackles, three tackles for a loss and sacked the KU quarterback once on his way to winning Defensive Champion honors from the WVU coaching staff.
West Virginia’s first-year coaching staff, led by head coach Neal Brown, had placed Pitts back at safety permanently upon its arrival earlier this year. Pitts was in line to be the Mountaineers’ starter at “CAT” safety, where he was backed up by fellow converted cornerback Jake Long.
Brown, a three-star prospect out of Tucker High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia according to 247Sports, redshirted in 2017 and was primarily a special-teams player in 2018. He was named special teams champion against Texas Tech.
A student-athlete entering his name into the transfer portal doesn’t obligate him from transferring, but does notify other schools of his interest. Pitts and Young are now the eighth and ninth West Virginia scholarship players to put their names into the transfer portal since the end of last season.
Offensive linemen Matt Jones and Dontae Angus both left the program before Brown’s arrival. Since then Pitts, Robinson, receivers Marcus Simms and Dillon Spalding, defensive lineman Tyrese Allen and defensive back Jordan Adams have all put their names in the transfer portal. Of that group, only Jones (Youngstown State) and Spalding (James Madison) have landed at new schools.