PITTSBURGH — Each year, the Pitt Panthers elect a new set of leaders. Separated from the smaller group of team captains, the EAGLES are made up of 11 players, two players from each grade plus three super seniors, chosen by their peers to represent them in discussions with the coaching staff. These men must be smart, articulate and – above all – trusted by their teammates.
These positions are typically filled by veteran stars, players who know their teammates and the Pitt program intimately—you’re unlikely to find a new arrival among them. So the fact that transfer receiver Konata Mumpfield was selected as a 2022 EAGLE is even more surprising.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi said it’s relatively rare for a first-year transfer to do so, but training camp confines players to the team hotel and practice facility for long hours each day. That’s a lot of time together crammed into less than a month.
“This has happened before,” Narduzzi said. “It’s been 26 days and you have a new roommate, you’re in a hotel with someone else, people start to see who you are at camp. We’re here at 6 in the morning … and they’re here until 9 . ‘night time. So they spend a lot of time together and learn who is who.”
It’s clear that Mumpfield’s teammates have recognized who he is – not only a talented player, but a dedicated member of this team with high aspirations for the 2022 season. He is making every effort to become loved this new program, so much so that his coaches have had to ask for relief.
Mumpfield said he felt pressure to prove himself on the field and endear himself to his teammates by playing hard. In fact, he made so many diving attempts to catch passes that Narduzzi told him to stand up and protect his body for when the plays really count.
“He told me to go ahead and just stop doing this, stay healthy,” Mumpfield said. “It’s one of those things where you come out, it’s a new team, fall camp and you feel like you have to prove yourself.”
Mumpfield is clearly a talented player. He was named a freshman All-American after his stellar rookie season at Akron and has drawn rave reviews for his athleticism, ball skills and running throughout summer training camp. But earning a seat on his team’s leadership council required extra effort for Mumpfield, who has been a Panther for all of about five months, three of which did not include official team practices.
But these changes have come more easily to Mumpfield than might be expected. He had old friend and training partner Bub Means, another transfer, waiting for him in Pittsburgh upon arrival. The new offense has come naturally since he mastered a similar system in Akron. Even the close season opener, a meeting with rival West Virginia in a sold-out Acrisure Stadium, doesn’t daunt the talented sophomore who played in front of massive crowds at Ohio Stadium and Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Mumpfield is still throwing himself into this team and this season. He’s finding every opportunity he can to touch the football, whether it’s as a receiver or punt returner, trying to soak up as much knowledge as he can from the older linebackers around him.
Senior Jared Wayne said Mumpfield is still keeping his head down and his work reflects a humble attitude that has made him a natural fit in his new home at Pitt.
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“He’s a great guy, very humble. He comes in and works every day. We’ve gotten really close over the offseason and I’m really excited about what he’s going to show and what he’s going to add to our group this year.”
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