Saturday, November 7, 2015

Chris Clark is a Panther

UCLA transfer Chris Clark has committed to Pitt, before their game today against Notre Dame. He has taken a circuitous route as we all know, but the 6'5" 250 pound Clark was the No. 1 tight end prospect in the 2015 class. He will sit out next season and then have three years to play three years.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Most realistic best case scenario to fill out '16 class

The Panthers currently have eleven verbal commits and with the expected total to be around twenty in total, here's a look at who the final nine could be. This is not a prediction, but a realist best case scenario.

Miles Sanders, RB- I'm not going to get into details about where this stands for obvious reasons, but for many reasons this would be a huge get. The Panthers really aren't desperate for numbers at the position with Qadree Ollison, Chris James, Darrin Hall, and Rachid Ibrahim all still having at least two years left, and Chawntez Moss already committed, but the program still may not have that elite talent at the position. Don't get me wrong, all of these players are good and could definitely have at least a 1,000 yard season in them. In fact, Ollison may get one this season. But even lesser recruited running backs that turned into stars, like James Conner and Dion Lewis, showed their great talents immediately. We haven't seen that yet from any of these backs, and until we do, you have to worry about their ceiling. As far as pure talent, Sanders has the most of the group, so getting him would help the unit immensely.

Juawann Winfree, WR- The Maryland transfer tried to join Pitt for this season, but the Panthers weren't ready for him yet. He's playing well again in junior college this year, and the Panthers officially offered him long ago. Another receiver is needed and Pitt is his best offer right now, plus he knows he will start right away if he commits. But maybe the most telling thing is that the Panthers aren't recruiting any other wide receivers hard right now so you have to think that both sides already know what's going to happen. A wide receiver class of Winfree, Ruben Flowers, and Maurice Ffrench would be excellent.

Chris Clark, TE- Last year's No. 1 tight end prospect has committed to a handful of schools, and with a visit coming this weekend, it's safe to say that Pitt is next. I know fans make fun of him, but you don't pass up a talent like this. He's so good that he'll probably only play for the Panthers for one year anyway, before going to the NFL. A tight end is desperately needed and he will be a great fit. At worse he's a flake, but so is Rob Gronkowski. Enough said.

Justin Morgan, OT- The Panthers haven't done well with adding offensive linemen this year with only Brandon Ford having committed so far.  Usually you want to add at least three or four but this year two seems to be the maximum or they will be scraping the bottom of the barrel. There are a few options here, but Morgan, who is committed to Rutgers, seems to be ripe for the picking since Kyle Flood is probably going to get fired. The fact that he already visited Pitt after committing to Rutgers shows he has serious interest.

Zack Gilbert, DE- The son of Sean Gilbert would be an excellent pickup, and this is one that seems like it's just a matter of time. He visited Virginia Tech recently, but with a coaching change there I doubt that he will still think about them. That leaves the Panthers.

Amir Watts, DT- The Chicago native committed to Western Michigan but opened up his recruitment a few months ago. He hasn't visited Pitt yet, and he seems to be a bit of a backup plan at this point, or the Panthers would be much more aggressive with him. They clearly want another tackle, and the prize would be USC commit Keyshon Camp, who says he wants to visit, but the competition may be too fierce. Plus, the Florida native looks like he wants to play somewhere warm. Penn State de-commit Christian Colon is a talent, but he's been thrown off his high school team, so that's never a good sign. There are others, too, but I'm going out on a limb here and saying Watts just by using the process of elimination. Floridian Aaron Thompson is another real possibility.

Damar Hamlin, CB- I know a lot of fans overreacted to his attendance comments, but I still think he'll eventually end up as a Panther. I think that's definitely who he wants to play for and when Heinz Field is packed this Saturday, he will be much happier.

Khaleke Hudson, S- Despite what you hear, the Panthers are very much in the mix with the McKeesport star. I was leaning towards Virginia Tech for Hudson about a month ago, but with Frank Beamer gone, that could remove them from the list. But that's not the only reason why I think Pitt has a strong chance. He also likes them much more then people realize.

For the remaining one (or two should one of the above force a de-commit), it could easily come from this list:

Elijah Deveaux, RB- He's been strong with Duke since he committed to them but the Panthers never stopped recruiting him hard. And with his dad, Glenn, being a former player at Pitt, the family is huge Panther fans. But if Sanders flips, then any chance that Derveaux will, too, is much slimmer.

Aaron Mathews, S- The fact that Pitt isn't taking him as a receiver shows me that Winfree is inevitable, but as a 6'4' safety Mathews would be interesting. He seems to be higher on Pitt now more than ever, and he's visiting this weekend, so maybe he feels he has a real chance again.

George Hill, RB/WR/S- He de-commited from Ohio State, and just about everybody thinks he'll end up at Michigan State, but he hasn't ended up there yet, so there's still a chance. Big time athlete.

Nate Swart, TE- Local tight end is a Toledo commit, but he's visiting the Panthers this weekend. If he gets an offer I assume he'll flip to Pitt. Even though the starting tight end will presumably go from JP Holtz, to Scott Orndoff, to Clark, there needs to be another tight end for date.

Zack Williams, OT- Florida big man with some offers from Miami, Louisville, NC State, and West Virginia, as well as Pitt. A lot of good Florida kids commit later in the cycle, and he'd be a good late pickup.

Quayshon Alexander, DE- Excellent NJ end that is already committed to Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers are struggling big time and Alexander wants to visit Michigan and Pitt.

Desmond Chapple, DE- Apparently the Panthers are looking for yet another end because beyond Gilbert they are still heavily pursuing a few. This Illinois native is visiting Pitt this weekend.

Andre Mintze, DE- Undersized Philadelphia kid but he is lightning quick and was pretty impressive at Pitt camp this summer. if he can out on good weight over the years he could be very good. He's visiting Pitt this weekend.

Aaron Thompson, DT- Undersized, but talented tackle from Florida. He continually claims that Pitt is his leader.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Attendance of major programs in an NFL city

Average attendance this season- Metro population

Washington- 61,206- 3.5 million
Minnesota- 53,737- 3.5 million
California- 51,160- 4.5 million
Arizona State- 50,486- 4 million
Georgia Tech- 50,285- 5 million
Stanford- 49,474- 4.5 million
Miami- 48,261- 5.5 million
TCU- 47,139- 6.5 million
Pittsburgh- 46,085- 2.3 million
Maryland- 40,782- 8.5 million (in between Washington, DC and Baltimore)
Colorado- 39,571- 2.5 million
Cincinnati- 34,025- 2 million
Northwestern- 33,888- 9.5 million
Temple- 33,276- 6 million
Vanderbilt- 32,505- 1.7 million
Boston College- 31,382- 4.5 million
Houston- 30,313- 6 million
South Florida- 26,138- 2.8 million
San Diego State- 24,696- 3 million
SMU- 24,315- 6.5 million

One thing to note is that Pitt has hosted Youngstown State in 90 degree weather, Virginia, and North Carolina on a Thursday. After Notre Dame comes in, the average attendance will go up.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pitt 23 Syracuse 20


1. It wasn't pretty but the Panthers are 6-1 on the season, and 4-0 in the ACC. And maybe even more amazing is that 5 of those 7 were on the road, and 3 of the 4 ACC games were on the road.

2.  Nathan Peterman continues to be efficient, and made his usual gutsy, accurate throws. For the game he was 19-25 for 189 yards. He didn't throw a TD but he also didn't thrown an interception. Since he took over full-time at Iowa he has not thrown an interception. That's been 4 and a half games.

3.  Qadree Ollison does one thing good, and that's running hard and straight. He did it for 103 yards on 22 carries. He also had 2 TDs. Chris James also played well running for 31 yards on 7 carries.

4.  Tyler Boyd had 12 catches for 93 yards, plus ran 6 more times for 34 yards. He also fumbled on a kickoff, and it was his fumbling that led him to lose the punt return job to Avonte Maddox in this game. Maddox didn't have any good returns, but at least he was very sure handed.

5.  Dontez Ford was going up against his former team, and he played well with 4 catches for 78 yards. He is plenty good enough to be a No. 2 WR. They just have to throw it to him.

6.  The play calling was frustrating at times mainly because of not throwing the ball down the field much, and because of the constant use of sweeps. Peterman has shown he can throw down the field so I have no idea why they don't do it more. The offensive line was struggling some in pass protection, but you still have to go down field sometimes. And Ollison runs best up the middle, but for some reason Jim Chaney kept calling for sweeps.

7.  The defense was not great, especially in the first half, but they did enough to win and even came up with two interceptions (Matt Galambos and Lafayette Pitts). It helped that Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey was probably concussed and shouldn't have been in the game.

8.  The last drive was a thing of beauty and it's what winning teams do to win. Taking the ball at their own 5 with 9:20 to go, the Panthers did whatever they had to do to get down the field, and things couldn't have worked out better. A gutsy, perfect fake punt continued the drive at midfield, and the Panthers took every second of the 9:20 to win the game on a Chris Blewitt 25-yard FG.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Top Pitt football targets to keep an eye on for '17

David Adams, Central Catholic HS, LB- Born to play middle linebacker, and the Panthers defense can't be great without one. For that reason the 6'1" 225 pound Adams is being pursued very heavily by the Panthers. He said on twitter a few months ago that there's a 100% chance that he would play where Paris Ford plays, and they are very close, but we'll see. Pitt, Penn State, and Notre Dame are the three favorites.

Jacobe Clement, South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte, NC) CB- Excellent 6'1" 180 pound cornerback that is very high on Pitt early. Zack Gilbert is his teammate, and the Panthers have offered a lot of players on this loaded team. Plus, Sean Gilbert is on the staff. A lot of it may come down to how stocked the Pitt secondary is at the time.

Tyler Dunning, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) LB- The Miami commit is still looking, and that could be good news for Pitt.  The 6'1" 225 pound 4-star linebacker wants to visit Pitt and he has tweeted good things about the Panthers defense for the past month or two. Plus, ace recruiter Rob Harley knows that area well, and since he would be his actual position coach, the chances of a flip may be even better.

Tyjuan Garbutt, Riverbend HS (Fredericksburg, VA) DE- Big time pass rusher at 6'3" and 230 pounds. Very high on the Panthers right now, but they will have to battle Penn State, West Virginia, and Virginia Tech. It's well worth the battle because you can never have enough pass rushers, and he's an excellent one.

Fred Hansard, Hun School (Princeton, NJ) DT- A giant 6'3" 315 pound beast that has to have Pat Narduzzi and Tom Sims salivating.  A big time player that will be hard to get, but he has Pitt high on his list.

Connor Heyward, Peachtree Ridge HS (Suwanee, GA) WR- The Panthers need more wide receivers and adding the son of Ironhead, and brother of Cameron, would be a great addition. He's an excellent prospect and the Panthers are very high on his list.

Kurt Hinish, Central Catholic HS, DT- Doesn't have an offer from the Panthers yet, but they are interested. He does have offers from Virginia and Toledo early. At 6'3" and 270 pounds, he's a good prospect that will only get bigger. If the Panthers offer, they will be major contenders.

Gabe Houy, Upper St. Clair HS, OT- Has an early offer from Pitt, and has visited the Panthers often. He's also a teammate of Pitt commit Brandon Ford so the Panthers have a very good chance with him. At 6'6" and 270 pounds he has a ton of upside.

Donovan Jeter, Beaver Falls HS, DT- Originally he was looked at as a defensive end, and he still could play there, but he now claims to be up to 6'4" and 280 pounds so he could project as a devastating tackle. He tweets about Pitt constantly, and it seems like just a matter of time before he commits, but time will tell.

Jake Lawler, South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte, NC) DE- Very talented at 6'3" and 225 pounds. Teammate of Zack Gilbert and Jacobe Clement. Major prospect that Pitt has gained ground on recently, but he just got offered by Georgia yesterday, and it really turned his head since that's where his dad went to school. Of course a lot can happen, including Georgia filling their needs with somebody else.

Ryan Lezzer, Clearfield (PA) HS) WR- Sleeper that is a big Pitt fan. Doesn't hold an offer yet, but Pitt likes him. Slot receiver type at 5'10" and 185 pounds. I think if the Panthers offer him he will commit, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will.

Alex Marshall, Proctor Academy (Andover, NH) TE- Originally was going to be in the '16 class, and Pitt was considered the leader before he changed to the '17 class. The Panthers are obviously in need of a few TEs and a 6'7" 230 pounder is a good one to have. It remains to be seen if he's the best option because there will be a lot of candidates.

Dewayne Murray, Steel Valley HS RB/WR- A dynamic runner but at only 5'8" and 180 pounds his size could be a problem. It certainly didn't hurt Dion Lewis, who was the same size when he entered college. He also could be turned into a slot receiver. This one will be interesting.

Kenny Robinson, University Prep (Pittsburgh) LB- One of the better prospects in the state, he could play wide receiver at 6'3" and 205 pounds, but the Panthers like him as a linebacker. And he could be a really good one. Pitt is considered the heavy favorite at this time.

Griffin Sestili, North Allegheny HS, TE- The Panthers need tight ends, as I said, but Sestili is 6'3" and 230 pounds so he may be a tad small for what the Panthers want. Virginia has offered so he's clearly a good player. His dad, Chris, was a center for Pitt in the late 80s.

Rick Squires, Penn Hills HS WR- Doesn't have a Pitt offer yet, but they are interested in the 6'1" 200 pound Squires. He does have an Akron offer. If he got a Pitt offer I think he'd be a Panther but it's still up in the air if he will.

Darian Street, Liberty HS (Bethlehem, PA) WR- Pitt was his first offer, and he's the brother of Devin Street, but the talented 6'1" 175 pound receiver says he would prefer to make his name somewhere else. That may change if he can't find anybody better than Pitt.

Ambry Thomas, Martin Luther King HS (Detroit) CB- One of the top cornerbacks in the country in this class, and the Panthers are among the top group for the 5'11" 165 pound star. The Panthers will be pretty loaded at cornerback, but so will anybody else that would be a contender for his services. He stopped in to visit Pitt unofficially in April, and he's former teammates and best friends with Avonte Maddox.

CJ Thorpe, Central Catholic HS, OG/DT- A ginormous young man already at 6'3" and 310 pounds. Most look at him on offense, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers wanted him on defense. Even though his dad played at Penn State, Pitt is a major player. He likes Pat Narduzzi a lot and he has a lot of friends going to Pitt, including Paris Ford and Rashad Wheeler.

Lamont Wade, Clairton HS, CB- One of the best corners in the country in the class. Until I see otherwise, he seems like a player that has stars in his eyes, especially since his advisors seem to be the same way. If I had to guess I would say that he will go to Ohio State, but we'll see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Top Pitt football targets to keep an eye on for '16

Aaron Mathews, Clairton, WR- At 6'4" and 185 pounds, Mathews is a tall drink of water. And despite the lack of elite speed, he still is a handful due to his long strides, frame, and hands. Despite rumors that he's waiting for Penn State (not true), he still hasn't committed to Pitt despite the Panthers being the obvious leader. You have to think it will happen eventually and that maybe he's simply a kid that does things on his own schedule.

Khaleke Hudson, McKeesport, S- At 5'11" and about 200 pounds, he's a little small for a linebacker, though he could maybe get about to about 220 and be a smaller linebacker. He could be a force if that would happen, despite his lack of size for the position. But strong safety seems to be his most ideal position. Wherever you put him, he will be good because he's tough, fast, and athletic. McKeesport kids don't go to Pitt as any Panthers fan knows but I heard through the grapevine that ace recruiter Rob Harley was offended by the thought when he heard this.  Whether Hudson goes to Pitt is still very much in the air. He's very secretive with his thoughts, and he takes great pride in that. Pitt is still very much in the mix, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he chooses the Panthers. But for some reason I'm thinking Virginia Tech. 

Damar Hamlin, Central Catholic, CB- He doesn't have elite speed which makes some think he will be a safety, but he's fast enough for corner, especially since he also has length at 6'1" and 180 pounds, great quickness, and anticipation. His close friends are going to Pitt, and Pat Narduzzi defensive backs do well, to say the least. I think Notre Dame intrigues him, but I think he will choose Pitt eventually.

Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills, RB- I will make this short and sweet. Everybody I know in the recruiting business thinks he will flip to Pitt, or at the very least, thinks there's a very good chance. He would make an instant impact on next year's team, and the PR of flipping an elite recruit from Penn State would obviously send reverberations around the college football world. I am not saying for sure that it will happen but if it does nobody should really be surprised. 

Justin Morgan, Poly Prep HS (Brooklyn, NY) OT- Giant 6'6" and 330 pound pound lineman is already committed to Rutgers, but he has since visited the Panthers. For now he's still sticking with Rutgers, but Pitt keeps putting pressure on him to flip. He'd be a very nice pickup as his stock has been rising. Plus, the Panthers need to add another offensive lineman.

Zack Gilbert, South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte) DE- The son of Sean Gilbert is a 6'1" 255 pound lineman with a very high ceiling. He moves extremely well and has great strength and explosiveness. He also is very mature and great character. He reminds me a lot of Ejuan Price. Pitt is considered the favorite, and the Panthers merely have to hold off Virginia Tech to get an excellent player. 

Quayshown Alexander, DePaul Catholic HS (Wayne, NJ) DE- The 6'2" 235 pound Nebraska commit is planning official visits, including Pitt. He is a big Steelers fan and was very interested in Pitt before somewhat surprisingly committing to the Cornhuskers. He's very good and you can never have too many big time athletes.

Jamal Smith, American HS (Hialeah, FL) DE- Northern schools like Pitt usually get under the radar Florida kids late in the recruiting cycle, and I expect the same this year. The 6'2" 248 pound Smith is one such possibility. Some may feel like Pitt is recruiting so well that getting perceived leftovers is not a good thing, but there are so many excellent players in Florida that it's impossible for the top programs in the region to have room for them all. Plus, Harley and defensive coordinator Josh Conklin knows the Florida players very well.  Smith wants to visit Pitt soon. Kentucky and Oregon State are his other top suitors.

George Hill, Hubbard (OH) HS, RB/WR/S- The Ohio State de-commit visited Pitt and even though almost everybody thinks he will end up at Michigan State, the Panthers are still right in there. An excellent athlete that can play multiple positions. If Pitt could technically flip a player from Penn State and Ohio State then things would get even more interesting. I see him probably ending up at Michigan State, but you never know.

Amir Watts, Phillips HS (Chicago, IL) DT- Previously committed to Western Michigan but then he got hot and he's now back on the market. Just 6'3" and 270 pounds but he's very quick. In fact, he even catches passes from the the wide receiver position at times. Minnesota may be the biggest obstacle. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Kaezon Pugh to Pitt

The Panthers storybook season continues as Aliquippa linebacker Kaezon Pugh has verbally committed to the Panthers. The 6'2" 210 pound Pugh is one of the best linebacker prospects in the east, and his commitment adds to a quickly improving linebacker corps.

Pugh's other finalist was West Virginia, and his other offers included Auburn, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Duke, Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan State, Missouri, and Arizona.