INDIANAPOLIS – When you are an NFL area scout in the western region of the United States, no college should be more on your radar than USC.
Southern California ranks right up there with any college in numbers of drafted players throughout the years. Out west, they frequently have the most players drafted.
So, for Colts area scout Chris McGaha, who mans the west region, he frequents USC practices and games quite often.
What did McGaha witness in seeing USC practices over the past two seasons?
Michael Pittman dominating.
“Watching him in practice, I never saw him lose a one-on-one rep,” McGaha says of Pittman. “I know that might sound crazy, but it’s true.
“The coaches at USC, they’re great, they let you stay for the entire practice, so I would really dial in when it was 1-on-1 time and watch him compete and see what kind of competitor he was. I’m not just saying this, but I never saw him lose a one-on-one rep all the times I was there for practice.”
McGaha believes that spoke to the competitiveness that Pittman, who is the son of an 11-year NFL running back, brings to the Colts.
The wins were done in a quiet manner after the play, too, something Colts fans are used to dating back to Marvin Harrison’s time in Indianapolis.
“(Pittman) wasn’t a guy who would win a rep and let you know about it either,” McGaha says. “He would just go about his business. He’d win a rep and then jog back to the huddle.”
Pittman, who was a strong special teams player early in his career at USC, thought about entering the draft following his junior season.
After 41 catches for 758 yards and 6 touchdowns as a junior, Pittman decided to return for one more season, ending his career at USC with a bang.
Despite having a true freshman at quarterback for a majority of his final season at USC, Pittman caught 101 balls for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Michael’s a big kid and he’s a reliable target and a physical player,” McGaha says. “He’s fast. He’s a guy that plays above the rim. He brings an element that we were missing to our wideout room—that big-bodied presence.”
Listed at 6-4 and 223 pounds, Pittman is known for his ability to highpoint 50/50 balls and come down with them.
“He’s a tough matchup for corners because there’s a lot of guys who are big but they don’t necessarily play big all the time,” assistant director of college scouting Matt Terpening says. “(Pittman) plays big. And he’s got great ball skills, and he can win at the catch point with his size, but he’s got such good hands where he can win and fight through that first hit, that first contact. That’s something that really drew us to him.
“He can win the jump ball, and it’s easier said than done, but some guys just have a knack for it. He’s got a knack for it.”
Terpening saw Pittman play twice last season and came away thinking he just saw one of college football’s more dominant players.
As a veteran scout for the Colts, Terpening also sees a prospect who checks many of the important Chris Ballard marks.
“He’s got makeup and character. He’s a captain, great leader, smart.”
“He’s big and strong. He can win at all three levels.
That’s the ideal package coming into the Colts receiver room.
“He’s got all the things you look for from off the field, on the field—size, smarts.”