Pitt football: SirVocea Dennis shining

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Pitt football has seen a lot of players putting on big-time performances with their first chances at significant playing time. While many players have burst onto the scene and made a name for themselves, none have made as big an impact as sophomore linebacker SirVocea Dennis.

Dennis appeared in eight games during the 2019 season and served mostly as a special teams player. He was a reserve linebacker and didn’t get many opportunities to make an impact on the game, picking up only one tackle the entire season.

Dennis was sitting behind Saleem Brightwell, a senior, and Kylan Johnson, a graduate transfer, during the 2019 season. With both out of eligibility for the 2020 season, he was set to take over for them and finally get his shot to make plays for the defense.

This opportunity is one Dennis has not squandered as he has became not only the Panthers’ best linebacker but one of the best players on a star-studded defense. Through the first eight games of the season, he is leading the team in both solo and total tackles with 32 and 51, respectively. He also has the fourth-most sacks on the defense with four and has racked up a team-high 13.5 tackles for a loss.

On top of being one of the best players on the Pitt defense, he is also proving to be one of the best defenders in the nation. Dennis’ numbers for solo tackles and sacks rank in the top 50 in all of college football and his tackles for a loss rank third.

With Dennis putting these numbers up in only his first season with significant playing time, he may be competing for both the Bednarik Award, given to the best defender in college football, and the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in college football, in the future. He will still have three years of eligibility after this season due to the blanket waiver for this season, meaning he will have plenty of opportunities to compete for these awards and cement himself as one of the best in college football and maybe one of the best to ever play at Pitt.

There is also a possibility that he may make the jump to the NFL before his eligibility is up. If Dennis builds on this season’s performance and puts up an even better 2021 season, he may be getting looks from a lot of NFL teams in which case he may forego some eligibility and his chance to win these awards.

Whether he decides to stay for all of his eligibility or leave early, Pitt fans should be glad to have Dennis on the team and excited for his future. He has grown immensely as a player between the 2019 season and 2020 season and has proven to be a high-motor linebacker that makes big plays. Dennis is certainly a big piece of the current defense and could become the centerpiece and leader that Pitt will build its defense around in the next few years.

Photo by Kaycee Orwig | The Pitt News

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