Oct. 4, 2000
Position: Wide Receiver
High School: Saginaw HS
Senior wide receiver DeRonnie Pitts has waited a long time to be the go-to guy for Stanford's high-powered offensive attack.
The fifth-year senior has emerged as the Cardinal's top receiver this season. After the team's first four games, Pitts is Stanford's leading receiver with 25 catches for 299 yards and four touchdowns. He ranks among the NCAA's leaders in receptions per game (6.25, 13th-T) and receiving yards per game (74.75, 44th-T). His 15-yard touchdown catch with 1:12 to go against Texas on September 16 proved to be the game-winner in the Cardinal's upset win over the No. 5 Longhorns. The week prior, Pitts caught a career-high 11 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns versus San Jose State.
Pitts has led Stanford receivers in receptions, yards receiving, or both in each of the team's first four games this season.
In Pitts' first four years on The Farm, most of the big-time plays were made by former standout Troy Walters. Pitts was quietly waiting his turn in the shadow of Walters, who rewrote the Cardinal's receiving record book.
"Troy is just a very exceptional player," said Pitts. "One big thing I was able to see from him is if you really want it bad enough - no matter what - you can get it."
As Walters served as a role model for the younger receivers on the team, Pitts, too is now in a leadership position.
"I talk to them a lot of times about how Troy was such a small guy (5-8,175), yet he was one of the strongest receivers we've had," said the 5-11, 195-pound Pitts. "He was one of the toughest guys, he'd jump over guys to get the ball.
"I just try and tell them about the attitude he had - he just always wanted to get things done and he believed if he wanted things bad enough, he could get them," said Pitts.
Coming out of Saginaw High School in Michigan as one of the top recruits in the nation, Pitts was a Blue Chip Report All-American as well as a First Team All-State and All-Conference selection. He started, not only at wide receiver, but also as a defensive back, placekicker, and punt returner for three seasons.
After redshirting the 1996 season, Pitts finished the '97 season in fourth place on the team with 13 receptions for 195 yards (15.0 average). As a sophomore, Pitts made a name for himself as he had 74 for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns. The 74 receptions ties for third in school history for a single season total and only four receivers in Stanford history have had 1,000 or more receiving yards in a single season. Walters is the only Cardinal player to have receiving yards twice (1997, 1999) with Pitts hoping to join Walters' elite company this season.
Ranks among Stanford's all-time leaders in touchdown receptions (20, 3rd-T), total receptions (170, 4th) and receiving yards (2359, 5th) ... Picked up 1012 receiving yards in 1998 to become one of only four Stanford receivers to post a season with 1000 or more receiving yards ... Attempting to become only the second receiver in Stanford history to record 1000 yards receiving in a season twice in a career ... Also had 74 receptions in 1998, tied for the third-highest single season total in Stanford history ... Leads Stanford this season in receptions (25), receiving yards (299) and touchdown receptions (4) ... Ranks among NCAA leaders this season in receptions (6.25 rpg, 13th-T) and receiving yards (74.75 ypg, 44th-T) ... Scored the eventual game-winning touchdown when he flipped into the end zone versus Texas (9/16/00) after catching a 15-yard pass from quarterback Chris Lewis with 1:12 remaining.
Still in the shadow of the All-American Walters last year, Pitts added 58 catches, 853 yards and eight touchdown receptions to his career totals.
With seven regular season games remaining in his career, Pitts ranks among Stanford's career leaders in touchdown receptions (20, 3rd-T), total receptions (170, 4th) and receiving yards (2359, 5th). With Walters' graduation (he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fifth round), Pitts has stepped into the role as the Cardinal's No. 1 receiver.
"I was real enthusiastic about it, because I thought it would finally give me the chance to show people the type of player that I am," said Pitts. "I kind of get to showcase my talent a little more.
"It's definitely something I've always wanted to have - be one of top leaders of an offense."
With the numbers Pitts is putting up this season, opponents are becoming aware of his potential to produce offense.
"I guess I'm getting a little double coverage now - I noticed that in the Texas game," said Pitts. "I'm not worried about it, it's a challenge I can accept. It will just open up the other guys and let them make some noise.
"As a whole, the guys playing behind me are going to be really good, they're already making big plays. I guess they kind of have to wait until I leave," said Pitts. "I kind of had the same thing with me. It's something that everybody has to do."
After Pitts' football career is over, he hopes to remain in the sports world as a broadcaster.
"I'd love to be a sportscaster, I know a lot about news reporting and stuff like that, and it seems like a field I'd like to get into," said the communications major. "The only bad part about it is you usually have to start at the bottom and work your way up. But that's really what I want to do."
Pitts has already made good on working from the bottom to the top during his five-year stint as a wide receiver at Stanford. In fact, his ESPN career might get put on hold as Pitts has hopes of playing in the NFL next year.
"I haven't got my catch-phrases down yet," said Pitts in reference to the broadcasting career he hopes to pursue when he finishes playing football. "I'll work on that after the season."
He may not have his catch-phrase, but he has his pass-catching skills in high gear as Stanford's No. 1 offensive threat.
by Susie Campion