Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pitt football early recruiting class

If you didn't know, there are now two signing dates, and the first one was on December 20th. The Panthers, like most schools, signed the majority of the players that will be in their class during this early signing period. There will be a handful of more signings during the next signing period, which will be on February 7th. After the entire class is complete I will go through each position so that we can all get a better understanding of how the new players fit, but for now, here are my initial thoughts on the early signees.

QUARTERBACK

Nick Patti, St. Joseph Regional HS (Montvale, NJ)- At 6'1" and 185 pounds, his size is not ideal, and he'll need to get stronger, but that's the case with almost all quarterbacks entering college. He has enough arm strength to make all of the throws, and he has good mobility in the pocket. He runs in the 4.8s so he won't be a big time runner, but he can pick up yards with his feet. Very smart, a good leader, and played at a high level high school program against other high level high school programs. Other offers include Boston College, Rutgers, and Cincinnati.

Bottom line: Like most quarterbacks, he has a lot of the right physical traits, but it's impossible to say if he has the intangibles until the time comes.

Ricky Town, Ventura College (Ventura, CA)- Once one of the top rated high school quarterback prospects in the country, he originally committed to Alabama, then switched to USC, before finally going to Arkansas, junior college, and now Pittsburgh. And he still hasn't played a down in college. Programs like Alabama and USC don't sign just anyone to be their quarterback, and the 6'3" 205 pound redshirt junior has all of the physical skills to be a star. He has a very strong arm and he is mobile. He's just never stayed anywhere long enough to actually play.

Bottom line: If he lives up to his great talent, he will push incumbent Kenny Pickett, and he will have his chance because he will be practicing in the spring. At the very least, he should be a mature, physically talented backup.


RUNNING BACK

None


WIDE RECEIVER

Cameron O'Neil, Glenwood School (Phenix City, AL)- A lanky 6'1" and 185 pounds, but he looks taller because of his long arms and legs. Good speed and good athlete. Runs well with he ball in his hands. Other offers include Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, and Memphis.

Bottom line: Has a good array of skills, and he has the ability to be a major factor in the future.

Shocky Jacque-Louis, Dunbar HS (Fort Myers, FL)- A 6'0" 170 pound speed demon that is electrifying with the ball in his hands. Could see immediate time as a return man and in a Quadree Henderson-type role on offense, though he projects as a better receiving threat than Henderson. Originally committed to Tennessee. Other offers included Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, Michigan State, and Oregon.

Bottom line: Electrifying talent that will likely be used in an assortment of ways, much like Quadree Henderson was. He could see the field immediately.

Taysir Mack, Indiana transfer- The 6'2" 200 pound Brooklyn native started in the last quarter of the season and he ended up impressing with 23 catches, 310 yards, and 3 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. He has good size, speed, and hands. He should be a major factor in the future. I have included him since he will be on scholarship next season. Will be forced to miss his redshirt sophomore year, but will still be available for two years.

Bottom line: Should be a major factor in two years. Very intriguing possibilities with him in the future.


TIGHT ENDS

None


OFFENSIVE LINE

Chase Brown, Lackawanna JC (Scranton, PA)- The Virginia native is a rock solid 6'5" 310 pounds. Because of his physical maturity, and because he will be at Pitt for spring practices, he has an excellent chance of being a starter next season. He played tackle as a freshman and guard as a sophomore, and he can project at either for the Panthers. Offers included West Virginia, Virginia Tech, TCU, UCF, Tennessee, and Minnesota.

Botton line: It's imperative that he can play right away, and be as good as he can be. But he does have the goods to do that.

Jake Kradel, Butler HS (Butler, PA)- Strong local kid who at 6'3" and 275 pounds is destined for center or guard. Aggressive, strong, and great feet. Other offers included Ohio State, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, UCLA, Iowa, and NC State.

Bottom line: Like most offensive linemen, you may not hear from him for a few years, but once he develops, he could be a force in the interior of the line.

Blake Zubovic, Belle Vernon Area HS (Belle Vernon, PA)- Already at 6'4" and 300 pounds. Can play guard or tackle. Strong and aggressive. Moves very well for his size. Great leadership qualities. Other offers included Penn State, Michigan State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, NC State, Northwestern, and Minnesota.

Bottom line: Once he develops, he is a likely starter.


DEFENSIVE TACKLE:

Tyler Bentley, Lakota West HS (West Chester, OH)- A brute at an already impressive 6'2" and 300 pounds. Physically impressive enough that he could see the field pretty early. Formerly committed to Kentucky. Other offers included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, West Virginia, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.

Bottom line: Has the potential to be an excellent run stopper in the middle of the line.

Devin Danielson, Thomas Jefferson HS (Jefferson Hills, PA)- Like Bentley, he is an ox at 6'1" and 290 pounds. Very quick for such a big player. One of the more underrated prospects in the country. Other offers included Wisconsin, Michigan State, UCLA, West Virginia, Louisville, and Iowa.

Bottom line: If he and Bentley live up to their potential, and start side by side some day in the middle of the line, opponents will find it very difficult to run up the gut.

David Green, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)- A completely different tackle at 6'0" and 255 pounds. Athletic enough that he played defensive end and running back in high school. He looks pretty big right now, so it remains to be seen how much more weight he can put on and keep his athleticism. Other offers included West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, and Iowa State.

Bottom line: Undersized right now, but athletic. It will be interesting to see how big he gets, because he does have talent.


DEFENSIVE END:

John Morgan, DeMatha Catholic HS (Upper Marlboro, MD)- A good pass rusher who has intriguing athleticism and speed off the edge for a player that's a solidly built 6'2" and 250 pounds. He also has the ability to drop back in coverage if need be. Other offers included Penn State, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, and Maryland.

Bottom line: Strong and athletic already, so he could get on the field in his first two years.

Noah Palmer, Thomas Jefferson HS (Jefferson Hills, PA)- Lighting quick off the edge. Pitt lists him as 6'3" and 215 pounds, but he said recently that he's now 6'4" and 235 pounds. Obviously that's a big difference, and how quickly he gets bigger and stronger,will determine when he sees the field.

Bottom line: Very under the radar because he was very skinny in high school, but if he ever gets to 250+ pounds, and keeps his quickness, he could be the surprise of the class.


LINEBACKER:

Wendell Davis, Benedictine College Prep (Henrico, VA)- Not big at 6'0" 220, but he plays mean and he can really run. Will probably end up at middle linebacker. Under the radar gem. Michigan State, West Virginia, Boston College, Rutgers, Duke, Wake Forest, Syracuse, and Indiana are some of his other offers.

Bottom line: I don't know how he didn't get more big offers, but he can run extremely well and he plays nasty. He has a good combination of skills for a Pat Narduzzi middle linebacker.


DEFENSIVE BACK:

V'Lique Carter, Oxbridge Academy (West Palm Beach, FL)- The more I watch this kid, the more I'm intrigued by him. He's just 5'9" and 170 pounds, but he's fast and he hits like a truck. He can play cornerback or safety. The Panthers flipped him away from Iowa State. Other offers included Oklahoma, Kentucky, Purdue, and UCF.

Bottom line: The kid just jumps off the video when you watch him. He's a football player and he just makes plays.

Judson Tallandier, DeMatha Catholic HS (Upper Marlboro, MD)- Long arms at 6'0" and 180 pounds. Will need to fill out, but once he does he could be either a big corner or a safety. Other offers include Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Arizona, NC State, Minnesota, and Boston College.

Bottom line: The Panthers like versatility, and in the passing offenses of todays game, it's good to have either a big cornerback, or a safety that can cover.

Marquis Williams, Cardinal Gibbons HS (Pompano Beach, FL)- You'd think his 5'8" and 160 pound size would be a problem, but for special talents, that doesn't matter as much. And he is a special talent. Elite speed and athleticism, combined with his supreme confidence. Shut down some elite wide receiver prospects in high school. Other offers included Clemson, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Mississippi, Louisville, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and NC State.

Bottom line: Yes, he's small, but he's a big time talent.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Top 25 Update (Updated Nov. 26)

Statistical analysis only. No human thought put into it.

1. Oklahoma
2. Wisconsin
3. Georgia
4. Alabama
5. Clemson
6. Auburn
7. Central Florida
8. Ohio State
9. Miami
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
12. Washington
14. Notre Dame
15. Michigan State
16. Memphis
17. Washington State
18. Stanford
18. LSU
20. Oklahoma State
21. Michigan
22. Boise State
23. Northwestern
23. San Diego State
23. Virginia Tech

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Top 25 Update (Updated Nov. 19)

1.  Alabama
2.  Miami
3.  Oklahoma
3.  Wisconsin
5.  Georgia
6.  Clemson
7.  Notre Dame
8.  Central Florida
9.  Auburn
10. Ohio State
10. TCU
12. Penn State
12. USC
14. Washington
14. Washington State
16. Michigan
16. Michigan State
18. Memphis
19. Mississippi State
19. Boise State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Northwestern
23. San Diego State
24. South Florida
25. South Carolina
25. Stanford


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Top 25 Update (Updated Nov. 12)

Using my own point system to determine how each has done against their schedule. Not a traditional ranking or a power poll. This is pure analytics.

1.  Alabama
2.  Miami
3.  Oklahoma
4.  Georgia
5.  Wisconsin
6.  Clemson
7.  Auburn
8.  Notre Dame
9.  Ohio Sate
10. Central Florida
11. TCU
12. Penn State
13. USC
14. Oklahoma State
14. Washington State
16. Michigan
17. Michigan State
18. Washington
19. Memphis
19. Mississippi State
21. Boise State
22. NC State
23. Northwestern
24. San Diego State
24. South Carolina

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Top 25 Update (Updated Nov. 5)

How each team has done agains their schedule, using my own point system (wins, quality of opponents in a win or loss, home or away, margin of victory). This is not a traditional poll or a power poll. 

1.  Georgia
2.  Alabama
3.  Clemson
4.  Notre Dame
5.  TCU
5.  Oklahoma
7.  Miami
8.  Wisconsin
9.  Central Florida
10. Penn State
11. Ohio State
12. Washington
12. Michigan State
14. USC
15. Auburn
16. Michigan
17. Oklahoma State
18. Memphis
18. Mississippi State
18. Iowa
21. Washington State
22. Boise State
23. Virginia Tech
23. Iowa State
25. San Diego State

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Number of 4 and 5 stars prospects from 2014-2017


These are only programs that got at least one player that was rated a 4 or 5 star player in the time period of 2014-2017. I separated them into three equal sections. There are 76 total, so you'd think that it would be 25, 25, 26, but there are ties so it's slightly uneven. The top level has 26, the second level has 30, and the third level has 20. The teams with an asterisk are currently in the top 25.

Top Level (14)

Alabama 19, 19, 15, 26= 79*
Ohio State 16, 14, 17, 17= 64*
LSU 17, 12, 15, 14= 58*
Auburn 14, 18, 15, 9= 56*
Tennessee 18, 17, 11, 9= 55
Georgia 13, 13, 13, 16= 55*
Florida State 16, 14, 19, 13= 52
USC 1, 21, 13, 17 = 52*
Oklahoma 9, 14, 11, 18= 51*
Texas A&M 13, 12, 10, 13= 48 
Michigan 7, 6, 16, 19= 48
Florida 13, 7, 10, 15= 45
Notre Dame  11, 13, 13, 8= 45*
UCLA 12, 12, 12, 8= 44
Texas 6, 15, 14, 8= 43
Clemson  8, 12, 13, 9= 42*
South Carolina 10, 11, 7, 7= 35
Penn State 6, 11, 6, 11= 34*
Miami  9, 7, 7, 10 = 33*
Stanford 9, 7, 7, 10= 33*
Michigan State 7, 7, 11, 4= 29*
Mississippi 7, 6, 12, 4= 29
Oregon 5, 8, 5, 9,= 27
Arizona State 7, 7, 5, 4= 23
North Carolina 5, 5, 7, 5= 22
Virginia Tech 8, 8, 2, 4= 22*

Second Level (7)

Kentucky 10, 2, 5, 4= 21
Washington 3, 4, 7, 7= 21*
Nebraska 4, 6, 4, 7= 21
Arkansas 3, 7, 4, 5= 19
Mississippi State 2, 6, 5, 6= 19*
Maryland 4, 3, 4, 7= 18
Wisconsin 4, 3, 4, 5= 16*
California 3, 5, 5, 2= 15
Pittsburgh 4, 2, 5, 3= 14
NC State 3, 5, 2, 2= 12*
Louisville 0, 3, 3, 6= 12
TCU 1, 1, 7, 3= 12*
Baylor 2, 4, 3, 2= 11
Oklahoma State 4, 2, 1, 3= 10*
Arizona 6, 0, 2, 2= 10*
Missouri 2, 6, 3, 1= 10
West Virginia 3, 4, 2, 1= 10
Utah 1, 1, 3, 4= 9
BYU 2, 0, 4, 2= 8
Texas Tech 1, 3, 2, 1= 7
Vanderbilt 3, 3, 1, 0= 7
Virginia 4, 2, 0, 0= 6
Georgia Tech 1, 0, 1, 4= 6
Kansas State 2, 2, 1, 1= 6
USF 2, 0, 2, 1= 5
Duke 0, 1, 4, 1= 5
Iowa 2, 1, 0, 2= 5
Colorado 1, 0, 2, 2= 5
Northwestern 4, 0, 1, 0= 5
Illinois 0, 2, 0, 3= 5

Third Level (4)

Temple 1, 2, 1, 0= 4
Boston College 3, 0, 0, 1= 4
Oregon State 0, 0, 2, 2= 4
Rutgers 0, 1, 0, 3= 4
Washington State 0, 2, 0, 2= 4*
Houston 0, 0, 3, 1= 4
Memphis 0, 1, 0, 3= 4*
UCF 1, 1, 2, 0= 4*
Minnesota 1, 1, 1, 0= 3
Kansas 1, 0, 1, 1 = 3
Boise State 2, 1, 0, 0= 3
Cincinnati 1, 0, 0, 2= 3
Indiana 2, 0, 0, 0= 2
Iowa State 1, 0, 1, 0= 2*
Wake Forest 0, 1, 0, 1= 2
San Diego State 0, 2, 0, 0= 2
Syracuse 1, 0, 0, 0= 1
Marshall 0, 0, 1, 0= 1
Purdue 1, 0, 0, 0= 1

Tulsa 0, 1, 0, 0= 1

Of the top level, 53.8% are in the top 25.
Of the second level, 23.3% are in the top 25.
Of the third level, 20.0% are in the top 25. 

So the theory that you have to have a top 25 recruiting class to be in the top 25 simply isn't true. Sure, if you want to win consistently, and win big, you'd be better off with a lot of 4 and 5 star prospects, but you can still be ranked in the top 25 if you don't have a ton of 4 and 5 star prospects. In fact, 42% of the current top 25 is not one of the top 25 recruiting teams over the last three years. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Facts About Where Pitt Stands in the Recruiting World

Too often I hear fans complain that Pitt doesn't have enough "4 star" players, or that they're not ranked in the top 20 recruiting rankings. But the truth is, recruiting ratings, while being fun and interesting guides, often don't mean much.

I will use Rivals ratings for the purpose of this article, because they are the most known, but the truth is I could use any rankings, and it would be a similar result. And I include my own ratings in that. When I do PA rankings, I talk to college and high school coaches, scouts, reporters, and anyone else that knows these players, and my rankings are just as suspect. Even college assistants that get paid six or seven figures, and head coaches that get paid millions to make these evaluations, misjudge players often.

Let's first look at the rankings in PA. We'll start in 2010 since it's a nice round number. The No. 14 ranked prospect in the state that year, according to Rivals, was Aaron Donald, who of course ended up winning many major awards in college, was a consensus All-American, and is three years into a possible Hall of Fame NFL career. The players ranked ahead of him that season were Sharrif Floyd, Cullen Christian, Mike Hull, Corey Brown, Paul Jones, Tom Ricketts, Kyle Baublitz, Miles Dieffenbach, Ken Wilkins, Dakota Royer, Alex Kenney, Anthony Gonzalez, and Brandon Felder. Floyd was the lone 5 star. All but Gonzalez and Felder were 4 stars.

Floyd went to Florida where he became an All-American and a first round draft choice. Seven on the list went to Penn State, and only Hull had a successful career with an all-conference senior year. He went undrafted and is barely hanging on in the NFL. Brown was a two time second team All-Big 10 performer and also went undrafted. He hung on in the NFL for a few years, but is currently out of the league.

The rest of the group did a lot less. Christian, who was No. 2 on Rivals' rankings, played at Michigan, Pitt, and West Virginia, and had 29 career tackles. Jones was moved from quarterback to tight end at Penn State, had eligibility issues, transferred to Robert Morris, then had eligibility issues again. Ricketts wasn't successful at Penn State, so he transferred to Pitt where a shoulder injury prevented him from ever seeing the field. Baublitz had 27 career tackles before deciding to not come back for his senior season. Dieffenbach did more than most and had an okay career with 26 career starts. Wilkins did not play a down in his three seasons at Michigan, and he left after his redshirt sophomore season. Royer stopped playing at Penn State before the start of his redshirt sophomore season. Kenny had 24 career catches at Penn State before transferring to UMass. Gonzalez ended up having a good career with 26 starts and an all-conference senior season that saw him accumulate 81 tackles. Felder played one year at North Carolina, two years at Pitt, and one year at Winston-Salem State.

So, of the top 14 prospects, the No. 14 prospect was the lone superstar, the No. 1 prospect had a really good career, and players ranked 3, 8 and 12 had good careers. The 9 remaining players did nothing in their careers, and 7 of them were 4 star prospects.

In 2011, there were nine 4-star prospects led by No. 1 ranked player Delvon Simmons. He committed to Texas Tech, transferred to USC, and had a solid college career, before going undrafted. No. 2 Ben Koyack went to Notre Dame, where he had an average career and went in the 7th round. No. 3 prospect Brandon Clemons started 12 games at Michigan State. No. 4 Deion Barnes had 99 career tackles and 14 career sacks at Penn State before going undrafted. No. 5 Kyshoen Jarrett was a three year starter at Virginia Tech and had a very good career as a cornerback and return man. He was a 6th round draft choice and is no longer in the league. No. 6 Jameel Poteat went to Cincinnati where he had 227 yards rushing in two years, then walked on as a linebacker for one year at Pitt, where he accomplished nothing. No. 7 Dondi Kirby committed to Illinois, failed to quality, went to juco, then played one year at Temple where he played 2 games. No. 8 Shawn Oakman went to Penn State, but was dismissed from the team. He ended up at Baylor where he became a star and was projected as a possible first round draft choice. Instead he returned for his senior season, got arrested for sexual assault two weeks before the draft, and went undrafted. The ninth, and final, 4 star prospect, Terrell Chestnut, was a two year starter at West Virginia, then went undrafted.

The most accomplished member of the 2011 class was Ejuan Price, who was ranked No. 19. He ended up being a two time All-ACC pick for Pitt, as well as being a consensus second team All-American.

In 2012, there was one 5 star, and ten 4 stars. The 5 star, Noah Spence, was having a good early career at Ohio State before failed drug tests got him tossed. He ended up at Eastern Kentucky, where he became a second round draft choice. No. 2 Rushel Shell left Pitt and transferred to West Virginia where had 2,010 yards in three seasons, and went undrafted. No. 3 Chris Muller was a four year starter at Rutgers. No. 4 Geno Lewis played three years at Penn State before leaving for Oklahoma during Penn State's "Sandusky year". He ended up averaging 31 catches and 392 yards a year over his career. No. 5 Colin Thompson went to Florida, but left after playing in just 3 games over his first 2 seasons. He ended up at Temple where he had 19 total catches. No. 6 Adam Bisnowaty started 43 games and was a two-time All-ACC player. No. 7 Greg Garmon played one year at Iowa, left to go to a junior college, then got arrested for burglary. No. 8 J.J. Denman started 19 games at Rutgers. No. 9 Deaysean Rippy committed to Pitt, left after one year without playing, then transferred to Colorado where he played on special teams for half the season before not dressing at all for the last two years. No. 10 Demetrious Cox started 24 games at Michigan State, and had a good career. No. 11 Drew Harris committed to Virginia Tech, didn't quality, was at UMass for two weeks, then ended up at IUP. No. 21 in this group was Jesse James, who ended up being a 5th rounder for the Steelers, where he is currently the starter.

In 2013, three of the five best prospects ended up being Pitt players- No. 2 Dorian Johnson, No. 6 Tyler Boyd, and No. 13 James Conner. Johnson was one of two 5 stars, with the other being the No. 1 ranked player, Alex Anzalone, who started only 10 games at Florida. He still had enough raw talent to be a 3rd round draft pick. Among the other 4 stars, No. 7 Will Fuller became an All-American and a first round draft choice at Notre Dame. No. 3 Robert Foster has 28 career catches at Alabama. No. 4 Adam Breneman moved on from Penn State after two years, then had big years at UMass last year and this year. No. 5 Patrick Kugler became a starter in his senior season at Michigan. No. 8 David Williams ran for 794 yards in three seasons at South Carolina, before transferring to Arkansas where he has 382 yards in 8 games this season. No. 9 Mike McGlinchey has become an All-American at Notre Dame and should be a first round draft choice. No. 10 Damion Terry has seen very limited action as a Michigan State quarterback.

In 2014, there were no 5 stars and nine 4 stars. The best in the state that year, however, was No. 15 three star prospect Malik Hooker, who became an All-American and and first round draft pick from Ohio State. No. 1 Montae Nicholson started 23 games for Michigan State, and left early to be a seventh round draft pick. His college career was considered very inconsistent, however. No. 2 Dravon Askew-Henry has had a very good career. No. 3 K.J. Williams did not quality to get into Syracuse, ended up at a junior college, before disappearing from football completely. No. 5 Aaron Ruff has barely seen the field at Temple. No. 6 Chase Winovich started just two games until this season, but he's finally become a very good player at Michigan. No. 7 Mike Grimm did not see the field at Pitt, then left the team due to an injury. No. 8 J.J. Cosentino has thrown just 19 career passes at Florida State. No. 9 Shai McKenzie had 395 yards in his three seasons at Virginia Tech. He's had 408 yards in 8 games with Hampton this season.

I'll stop with those five seasons to show you statistically how the rankings fared. These are just the 4 and 5 star prospects. The school listed is only for the program they signed with initially since this is all about recruiting.

Accomplished players:

Sharrif Floyd (2010) Florida
Delvin Simmons (2011) Texas Tech
Kysheon Jarrett (2011) Virginia Tech
Shawn Oakman (2011) Penn State
Terrell Chestnut (2011) West Virginia
Noah Spence (2012) Ohio State
Adam Bisnowaty (2012) Pitt
Chris Muller (2012) Rutgers
Demetrious Cox (2012) Michigan State
Dorian Johnson (2013) Pitt
Adam Breneman (2013) Penn State
Tyler Boyd (2013) Pitt
Will Fuller (2013) Notre Dame
Mike McGlinchey (2013) Notre Dame
Montae Nicholson (2014) Michigan State
Dravon Henry (2014) West Virginia
Chase Winovich (2014) Michigan

Contributors:

Mike Hull (2010) Penn State
Corey Brown (2010) Ohio State
Miles Dieffenbach (2010) Penn State
Ben Koyak (2011) Notre Dame
Deion Barnes (2011) Penn State
Rushel Shell (2012) Pitt
Geno Lewis (2012) Penn State
JJ Denman (2012) Rutgers
Alex Anzalone (2013) Florida
Patrick Kugler (2013) Michigan
Alex Bookser (2014) Pitt

Contributed little, or nothing:

Cullen Christian (2010) Pitt
Paul Jones (2010) Penn State
Tom Ricketts (2010) Penn State
Kyle Baublitz (2010) Penn State
Ken Wilkins (2010) Michigan
Dakota Royer (2010) Penn State
Alex Kenney (2010) Penn State
Brandon Clemons (2011) Michigan State
Jameel Poteat (2011) Cincinnati
Dondi Kirby (2011) Illinois
Colin Thompson (2012) Florida
Greg Garmon ((2012) Iowa
Deaysean Rippy (2012) Pitt
Drew Harris (2012) Virginia Tech
Robert Foster (2013) Alabama
David Williams (2013) South Carolina
Damion Terry (2013) Michigan State
KJ Williams (2014) Syracuse
Aaron Ruff (2014) Temple
Mike Grimm (2014) Pitt
JJ Cosentino (2014) Florida State
Shai McKenzie (2014) Virginia Tech


I will count that for you. There are 17 that are accomplished, 11 that contribute somewhat, and 22 that contributed little or nothing. So almost half of the 4 and 5 star prospects in PA accomplished little or nothing. Plus, of the 17 that I consider accomplished, 4 of them accomplished more after they transferred. That means only 13 PA players over a 5 year period would be considered an all-star caliber player for the school that originally signed them. You don't have to do a math major to know that that's an average of less than 3 a year.

By the way, I counted the 3 stars in the same time period that I would consider accomplished and I came up with 18. So that's more than 4 or 5 stars. And that group included Aaron Donald, James Conner, Mike Caputo, Ejuan Price, Nick Kwiatkoski, Zaire Franklin, and Malik Hooker. And these are the 3 stars that are ranked by Rivals in their state rankings, so the pool of players is pretty much the same. I know that recruiting websites like to say that there are more 3 stars than 4 or 5 stars so I want to make sure that fact is known.

I think you see what I'm saying here. There really is no difference between what recruiting websites consider 3 and 4 star players.

Look at seasons beyond 2014 to see further proof. In 2015, Notre Dame running back Josh Adams was a 3 star that was ranked No. 12. Some players ranked ahead of Adams? How about Penn State running back Andre Robinson, Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Schurmur, Pitt safety Jay Stocker, and Penn State offensive lineman Sterling Jenkins. In 2016, burgeoning Michigan star Khaleke Hudson was a 3 star that was ranked No. 10.

Another recruiting fallacy is that you need a lot of 4 and 5 star rated prospects to be successful. While it's mostly true that if you want to win a National Championship it's best to have as much as elite talent as possible, you can certainly be a top 25 or even a top 10 team with a team of 3 star prospects. Just look at some current examples.

Recruiting stars of Wisconsin's starters:

QB- 3
RB- 4
FB- 3
WR- 3
WR- 4
TE- 3
LT- 3
LG- 3
C- 3
RG- 3
RT- 3

DE- 3
NT- 3
DE- 3
OLB- 3
ILB- 2
ILB- 3
OLB- 2
CB- 2
CB- 2
FS- 2
SS- 3

Recruiting stars of TCU's starters:

QB- 4
RB- 3
WR- 4
WR- 2
WR- 4
WR- 2
LT- 3
LG- 3
C- 3
RG- 3
RT- unranked

DE- 2
DT- 2
DT- 3
DE-3
LB- 3
LB- 2
CB- 3
CB- 3
S- 2
S- 3
S- 3

Recruiting stars of Oklahoma State's starters:

QB- 4
RB- 3
FB/TE- unranked
WR- 3
WR- 4
WR- 3
LT- 3
LG- 2
C- 3
RG- 3
RT- 3

DE- 3
DT- 2
DT- 4
DE- 3
LB- 3
LB- 3
LB- 3
CB- 3
CB- 3
FS- 3
SS- 2

Recruiting stars of Virginia Tech starters:

QB- 3
RB- 3
WR- 4
WR- 3
WR- 3
TE- 3
LT- 4
LG- 4
C- 2
RG- 3
RT- 3

DE- 3
DT- 4
DT- 4
DE- 3
LB- 3
LB- 3
LB- 4
CB- 3
CB- 2
FS- 3
SS- 3

Recruiting stars of Pitt's starters:

QB- 2
RB- 4
WR- 3
WR- 3
WR- 3
TE- unranked
LT- 3
LG- 3
C- unranked
RG- 4
RT- 3


DE- 4
DT- 3
DT- 3
DE-2
LB- 3
LB- 3
LB- unranked
CB- 3
CB- 2
FS- 4
SS- 2

Giving 5 points for 5 stars, 4 points for 4 stars, etc., here are the totals. I also give one star for an unranked player.

Virginia Tech:
Offense- 35
Defense- 36
Total- 71

Wisconsin:
Offense- 35
Defense- 29
Total- 64

Oklahoma State:
Offense- 32
Defense- 32
Total- 64

Pitt:
Offense- 30
Defense- 30
Total- 60

As you can tell, Pitt fares less, overall, than these three teams that are currently a combined 29-3, but not too much less, especially Wisconsin and Oklahoma State. In fact, if they simply had a center or tight end that was 3 stars, they would be practically equal with 63 to Wisconsin's and Oklahoma State's 64. Things get even more interesting when we look at last year's Pitt team, and next year's projected Pitt team.

Last year's Pitt team:

QB-4
RB- 3
WR- 3
WR- 3
WR- 2
TE- 3
LT- 4
LG- 5
C- 3
RG- 4
RT- 3

DE- 3
DT- 3
DT- 3
DE-2
LB- 2
LB- 3
LB- unranked
CB- 3
CB- 3
FS- 2
SS- 4

Offense- 37
Defense- 29
Total- 66

As you can see, Pitt's offense had higher ranked players than Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma State does this year, and more overall than Wisconsin and Oklahoma State.

Projecting next year, and of course this is just a guess, but at least it's an educated guess:

QB- Pickett 3
RB- Hall 4
WR- Henderson 3
WR- Mathews 3
WR- Ffrench 3
TE- Clark 4
OL- There's too many candidates to guess here but we know Booker will be a 4, Morrissey will be unranked, and whoever starts at the other three spots will be 3s. So that's 14.

DE- Hendrix 4
DT- Roy 3
DT- Camp 3
DE- Weaver 2
LB- Zeise 3
LB- Brightwell 3
LB- Idowu unranked
CB- Jackson 2
CB- Mathis 3
FS- Ford 4
SS- Hamlin 4

Offense- 34
Defense- 32
Total- 66

As you can see, Pitt's projected starters are more in tune with what it was last year when they were 8-5, and at the same level as Wisconsin and Oklahoma State has this year.

This is getting very long so I will sum up the most important points here:

1.  Yes, it's great to have a roster filled with 4 and 5 star prospects if you want to win a national championship, but there's only about a dozen programs that can do that. Pitt isn't one of them.

2.  Pitt, however, is in the next group of programs, and that group can win with a roster filled with mostly 3 star prospects, as long as they identify the right players, and put them in a position to succeed. In other words, recruiting and coaching.

3.  Recruiting websites are a great resource, but they should not be taken as gospel. Five star prospects often do nothing, two star prospects often do a lot, and three and four star prospects are the same level of player.

4.  Like Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma State, Pitt is capable of getting into the top 15, too, because they are all recruiting similarly. And getting into the top 25 is even more possible because at worse, they recruit as well, and in a handful of cases they recruit significantly better.

5.  It's still an unknown if Pat Narduzzi is one of those coaches, like Mike Gundy, Paul Chryst, and Justin Fuente, that can identify talent, then put them in the best position to win, but if he isn't one of those coaches, we know that that it is possible that Pitt can be just as successful as Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma State with the right coach.