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Even as Pitt was hiring Graham, three of the Panthers’ best players were announcing they were leaving for the NFL. Junior wide receiver Jon Baldwin, junior fullback Henry Hynoski and sophomore tailback Dion Lewis all announced Monday they would declare themselves eligible for the draft.

Pitt finished its season Saturday, beating Kentucky 27-10 in the Compass Bowl with former defensive coordinator Phil Bennett serving as interim coach. He then left to become the defensive coordinator at Baylor.

The 6-foot-5 Baldwin is a two-time all-Big East player who made 53 catches for 822 yards and five touchdowns this season. Lewis ran for a Pitt freshman record 1,799 yards last season and was chosen as a second-team All-American, but he had a major falloff to 1,061 yards this season.

Hynoski is leaving in part because he believed Pitt’s next coach will do away with the fullback role.

Penn State assistant coach Tom Bradley was among the first to be interviewed by Pitt, but he apparently did not have a second interview despite being pushed by some prominent Pitt boosters.

Unlike the initial search, which was conducted by Pederson, a search committee was formed this time that included university executive Jerry Cochran and senior associate athletic director Donna Sanft. Nordenberg also was heavily involved.