Pitt Panther Football: Dion Lewis and Jon Baldwin Declare for NFL Draft

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2011

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04:  Dion Lewis #28 of the Pittsburgh Panthers runs with the ball during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Pittsburgh won 28-10.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Amid all of the excitement that new Pitt head coach Todd Graham has generated since news of his hire was reported on Monday, the news wasn’t good news for three of the Panthers key offensive underclassmen.

The addition of Graham’s spread option attack was enough to convince tailback Dion Lewis, wide receiver Jon Baldwin, and fullback Henry Hynoski to opt for the NFL Draft instead of sticking around at Pitt.

The decision may be a wise one for all three.

All three guys are very talented, but more suited for a pro-style offense.  Having to play a season in Graham’s spread attack may have seen their stock drop pretty low.

The 2010 season began with promise for the Panthers, most notably Lewis and Baldwin who were preseason Heisman contenders.

That’s as good as things got though as Pitt never really got on track offensively and Lewis struggled to get going. 

At least he got going a little bit.  The Panthers struggled to get the ball into Baldwin’s hands so much, that you almost forgot he was on the field half of the time.

While their draft stock naturally dropped some after this past season, another season of little to no production was way too much to risk, especially in Baldwin’s case.

While neither will be around for the future of Pitt football, they all left their mark on the program, even though it ended in disappointment.

Baldwin was a two-time All Big East performer.  He ranks sixth in Panthers history in receiving yards (2,337) and eighth in receptions (128).

Lewis had a spectacular freshman season, rushing for 1,799 yards in 2009 earning him National Freshman of the Year honors. His two-year rushing total of 2,860 ranks him fourth on the Panthers all-time rushing list.

Hynoski was Pitt’s starting fullback each of the past two years. This past season he rushed 12 times for 33 yards and caught 25 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown.