Monday, August 24, 2015

My bios for Pitt football starters as high school players

I thought it would be interesting to see how I did as far as predicting what would become of Pitt players as they entered the program. For the players that's been around for a long time, I don't have bios, but here are the ones that I do have. The players listed are the projected starters, and when there is doubt who will be the starter, I added several options.

QB- Chad Voytik- "At 6'1" and 185 pounds he could use some weight, but his height is fine, despite some naysayers.  In fact, Chryst's star QB at Wisconsin, Russell Wilson, is 5'10 1/2".  He is not considered a running quarterback but he is very mobile and possesses good speed, so he can take off and run extremely well when he needs. His best trait, however, is seen when he passes.  His arm strength is very good and his lightning quick release is considered by some to be the best in the class. He's also already shown he is a leader as he is the player most responsible for keeping the best of the class together."

RB- James Conner- "At 6'2" and 230 pounds, he's a big, tough runner with very good straight line speed at that size. Doesn't make a lot of moves, but he runs hard between the tackles. Once he breaks though the line, he utilizes his excellent speed with his quick, choppy steps. Was considered a defensive end prospect by most scouts but after a huge year of running the ball, the Panthers staff decided to try him at running back. But this is a player who, if he can prove he can be a running back at the college level,  has the chance to be very effective at running hard behind Pitt's massive line. The fact that he could move to defense is an added bonus because he has very good pass rush skills."

WR- Tyler Boyd- "Thin at 6'1" and 168 pounds. He's never been a full-time wide receiver, but he clearly won't have a problem learning the position immediately.  Has excellent speed, athleticism, and hands.  Excellent with the ball in his hands and is also an exceptional return man. Very reminiscent of former Woodland Hills, Michigan, and NFL star Steve Breaston.  An excellent receiver/returner who was a must even before Robert Foster chose to go to Alabama. Could be all-star caliber."

WR- Dontez Ford- Transfer so no bio.

WR- Elijah Zeise- "Solidly built at 6'2" and 185 pounds with a frame that could add a lot more weight. Physically he does not have one trait that stands out at an elite level, but he is good to very good in size, speed, athleticism, and hands. A good football player that could also project at safety or even linebacker some day."

WR- Zach Challingsworth- "Highly productive receiver on the high school level. A little thin but otherwise he has nice 6'2" 185 pound size. Quicker and faster than given credit for, but he's not considered an elite speed/athleticism kid.  Excellent hands and makes a lot of circus catches.  Young for his class and will begin his freshman season at Pitt as a 17-year old. To be honest, this kid seems to be a little under recruited. He has better than average size and speed, and he has excellent hands.  He's a football player so even if he doesn't star in college, he can help the program.  Likely redshirt candidate and then a possible No.2 or No.3 receiver sometime in his future."

WR- Quadree Henderson- "Very small at 5'8" and 170 pounds, but he's a water bug type with blazing speed (10.8 100m) and elite level quickness. Game breaker who runs extremely well with the ball in his hands. Also could factor in as a kick returner."

TE- JP Holtz- "Ideal for Paul Chryst's tight end friendly offense but he is also versatile enough to move to defensive end or linebacker in the future if need be. He possesses very good speed and athleticism, and even though he looks nothing like a true halfback he often ran out of the I-formation like a much smaller player, until he eventually steamrolled any would be tacklers. Bottom line, this is one of my favorite players from the hundreds of Pitt prospects this year.  He's just a tough, hard nosed football player that hustles.  Combine that with his natural talent and Chryst's offense, and Holtz could be a bonafide star down the road."

LT- Adam Bisnowaty- "I'll put him down as a guard for now but he has the ability to play tackle and even center for the Panthers.  At 6'6", he has great length but at 280 pounds he obviously has to gain a lot of weight, especially on a Bob Bostad line. A little stiff, but very strong.  Plays with a mean streak.  Was considered a bit of an underachiever at one point, but then decided to turn it on.  The result was offers by Florida, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Virginia among others. Bottom line-  A big, tough, nasty lineman who has the ability to be an All-American under Bostad."

LG- Dorian Johnson- "Ideally he's not big enough to play as a freshman, but he's talented enough that he may not only play, but he could start, too, possibly at guard where he won't be on an island in his first year.  He has future all-star ability and I would be surprised if he doesn't reach that level."

C- Artie Rowell- No bio found.

RG- Alex Officer- "Excellent run blocker with quick feet and agility.  Once he latches on to a defender, he often destroys him. Plays nasty.  Projects as a guard or even center, though he played tackle in high school. Two of the top 20 prospects in the upcoming draft are 6'3" guards and both are consensus All-Americans.  Major programs aren't going to make a special stop to Rochester so he is very much under the radar. He's raw, but the more I watch this kid, the more I think he has the potential to be very good in a few years."

RT- Alex Bookser- "Already a fit 6'6" and 300 pounds, and he can get bigger. Very quick feet which could make him an ideal left tackle candidate down the road. Like most freshmen linemen he will need to get stronger, so he'll very likely redshirt. But in a few years, if he lives up to his potential, he can be a big time left tackle. And if he doesn't? He very possibly could be an all-star defensive tackle since at the moment he's actually a better defensive player."

DE- Shakir Soto- "Already has excellent 6'4" 245 pound size and has a slender athletic build that could add another 20 pounds of good weight.  Very strong run defender but he has developed nice pass rushing skills this past season.  Good student and very mature. High character kid who plays hard and has good size and athleticism.  Because he enrolled early and is advanced both physically and mentally, he could possibly see time as a freshman."

DT- Khaynin Mosley-Smith- No bio found.

DT- Darryl Render- "Committed under previous regime as a pass rushing defensive end/linebacker, but while he has decent pass rushing skills, stopping the run is his forte. Strong base on his 6'3" 250 pound frame.  Good hustler with good athleticism.  Has the ability to add a lot of weight to become a defensive tackle down the line. Bottom line:  Tough, high character kid from an excellent high school football program. Has the potential to be a good strong side end or can add weight to move inside."

DT- Tyrique Jarrett- "Giant 6'3" and 320 man child with nasty aggressiveness, brute strength, and quick feet. He had almost no chance to qualify last season and still got offers from not only Pitt, but also Cincinnati, UConn, and Temple.  If grades weren't an issue, he would have had more and bigger offers. Big, nasty players that can move like him are rare.  Perhaps the sleeper of the class and somebody with a lot of potential."

DE- Rori Blair- "Very skinny at 6'3" at a listed 220 pounds, and he looks skinnier than that. But he has the frame to get bigger. Needs a lot more strength. Right now he gets overpowered too often. Good straight line speed and athleticism. Could potentially be an outside linebacker if he can't put on enough weight. An interesting project for many reasons. He's come a long way but he still has a long way to go."

OLB- Mike Caprara- "The lack of size is what kept Caprara from getting major offers.  At most he's 6'0" and 210 pounds, and it remains to be seen how much bigger he can get, but he has good speed and excellent instincts. Bottom line:  A born football player who would get a huge amount of offers if he was bigger.  At the very worst, he can be a special teams wiz who provides leadership on and off the field.  At best, he adapts to his smaller size and becomes a good player."

OLB- Bam Bradley- "The Panthers may tell him he's a safety officially, and they may even try him there, but look for him to be a linebacker eventually.  As a safety, he lacks the top level athleticism and speed, and as a linebacker he will have to add to his 6'1" and 200 pounds.  But it's easier to get bigger than faster.  He wants to play safety. Tough hard hitter as his name suggests (his real name is George), with good instincts.  Speed and athleticism is okay, but he could be a liability defending as a safety.  Spends most of his time in the box making tackles close to the line of scrimmage.  Brother Nicholas Grigsby was a freshman linebacker this year for the Panthers.  Bottom line: Tough kid who loves to play football and hits like a ton of bricks.  If he gets into the right position he could be a future ringleader on defense."

MLB- Matt Galambos- "Tough, relentless 6'2" and 225 pound young man that makes plays all over the field.  A sleeper who many in his area consider to be the best player in that part of the state. Don't be fooled by the Ivy League offers, which was indicative of his academics, not his playing level.  Not only is it great to have a kid like this in your program but he's also a really good football player who has everything it takes to excel in college football and life."

OLB- Nicolas Grigsby- No bio found.

CB- Lafayette Pitts- No bio found.

CB- Avonte Maddox- "Small at 5'9" and 160 pounds, but he can flat out fly. Probably the most electrifying player in Michigan this season and that's saying something.    Would be a big time slot receiver in some offenses, but at Pitt he will be at cornerback. Could be a star return man. Good student and leader."

FS- Reggie Mitchell- Transfer so no recruiting bio.

SS- Jordan Whitehead- "Solidly built at 5'11" and 195 pounds, excellent speed, and topnotch quickness. One of the most electrifying players in the state. Could also play safety on defense, plus wide receiver, and return kicks and punts."

SS- Patrick Amara- " Long frame at 6'2" and 175 pounds. Not a blazer on the stopwatch but he plays much faster on the field because of his smarts, anticipation, and quickness. Could turn out to be a very good college player."

PK- Chris Blewitt- "Small at just 5'10" and 175 pounds, but he has recently added size and strength.  Strong leg on kickoffs. People will have fun with his last name, but he will have the last laugh if he lives up to his ability."

P- Ryan Winslow- "Very big punter at 6'5" and 210 pounds.  Good athlete. Can also placekick and kickoff, though he probably won't be asked to in college. Hasn't put up big averages as a punter but the frame and leg are there so he just needs to learn to maximum his talents."

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pitt adds a local DT

The Pitt defensive line continues to get stronger for the future as 6'3" 270 pound Rashad Wheeler, of Central Catholic HS in Pittsburgh, chose the Panthers over offers from Penn State, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Rutgers, Boston College, and others.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Some Pitt football recruiting thoughts

Some notes that I posted on Twitter, but I wanted to put it in here, too.

1.  For Rivals rankings, I find their formula idiotic, and the reasons why are too boring to get in to. Others have written about it in detail, and let's just say they make no sense. The real rankings should be by average ranking per recruit. Following that, Pitt currently has the No. 42 recruiting class. Players like Damar Hamlin, Rashad Wheeler, Zack Gilbert, and Therran Coleman could make that go way up into the 20s, and there's a very good chance that will happen. And there may be a few other surprises along the way (including very possibly a huge one). But, bottom line, Pitt has a very good chance of ending up in the top 30 with Pat Narduzzi's first class.

2.  This class currently has a rating of 2.86 per recruit. Mark Dantonio's first class was 2.71. He had just one 4-star to go with 13 3-stars, and SEVEN 2-stars. His second class, when he had nearly two years to work on them, was a 3.3 and ranked No. 18. I suspect Narduzzi's second class will be equally impressive.

3.  Dave Wannstedt's first full class at Pitt was No. 22. Wannstedt followed that up with No. 26 and No. 19. Then the wheels came off at No. 40 and No. 30. Needless to say, Pitt's talent level started to drop and it was showing.

4.  The ACC recruiting is currently ranked: 1. Clemson, 2. Florida State, 3. Miami, 4. North Carolina, 5. Louisville, 6. Duke, 7. Pittsburgh, 8. Georgia Tech, 9. Boston College, 10. NC State, 11. Virginia Tech, 12. Virginia, 13. Wake Forest, 14. Syracuse. Expect Pitt to move up these rankings.

5.  At Michigan State, Narduzzi coached three consensus All-Americans and two No. 1 draft picks (one overlapped). All of them were 2-star or 3-star prospects, according to Rivals.

6.  Despite their coaching problems, Pitt has out recruited both Wisconsin and Michigan State 5 out of the last 10 years. In the seven years when the Pitt head coach had a full recruiting class, Pitt bettered those two schools 4 out of 7 years.  Moral to the story- Pitt did well recruiting when all hell broke loose. Imagine when there's stability.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top 10 Prospects in PA for 2017 Class (Preseason Edition)

1.  D'Andre Swift, St. Joseph's Prep HS (Philadelphia) RB- Perfect running back size at 5'10" and 208 pounds. Short, muscular frame and elite speed and quickness makes it nearly impossible to get a good shot on him. No real weaknesses and even has great hands. His offer list is big and will get huge before long. Right now that offer list includes Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, and Virginia Tech.

2.  Lamont Wade, Clairton HS (Clairton) CB- Just as excellent as Swift, and should be neck and neck as the best player in the state. May be the best cornerback prospect in the state, and that's saying something. Not big at 5'10" and 185 pounds, but he is a potential superstar with speed, athleticism, technique, hands, and toughness. Offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Auburn, Nebraska, UCLA, Maryland, and Virginia Tech.

3.  Paris Ford, Seton-LaSalle HS (McKees Rocks) S- Pretty slim right now at 6'0" and 175 pounds, but he's a high level athlete with the speed, athleticism, and hands to be an all-star college player. Great range with hands to match. Also a good hitter despite frame. Ed Reed centerfielder type that seems to be everywhere. Offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Auburn, and North Carolina.

4.  David Adams, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) LB- The quintessential PA linebacker with smarts, toughness, and tenacity. Good athlete. Plays well against the run and the pass. Early offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Nebraska, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

5.  Josh Lugg, North Allegheny HS (Wexford) OT- Already great size at 6'6" and 290 pounds, and he has the frame to get bigger. Great feet, tenacious, and strong. He has an extremely high ceiling. Early offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

6.  Donovan Jeter, Beaver Falls Area HS (Beaver Falls) DT- Already a large 6'4" and 260 pounds on a massive frame. Can easily get up to 300 pounds if he moves inside. May also have the potential to terrorize as a rush end. Excellent basketball player who would be a high major prospect if he was taller. Early offers from Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan State, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Maryland, among others.

7.  CJ Thorpe, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) OG- As of now he's 6'4" at best which means he will have to move inside to guard, but at 310 pounds he's a massive brawler that has great feet to go with the size. Could be a devastating pulling guard. Offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Auburn, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland.

8.  Mark Webb, Archbishop Wood HS (Warminster) WR- In most other years he'd be a guaranteed top 5 prospect. Already good size at 6'2" and 195 pounds, and with that size he has the speed, athleticism, and hands to be one of the better wide receivers prospects in the east. Early offers so far include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Rutgers.

9. Damion Barber, Harrisburg HS (Harrisburg) DE- Listed at 6'3" and 220 pounds but he looks thinner than that. Once he fills out he could be very good but he's lightning fast off the edge. Pittsburgh, Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers are among his early offers.

10. Carter Lynch, St. Joseph's Prep HS (Philadelphia) OT- A virtual unknown on the recruiting scene until this summer when he had some good showings. His 6'5" 315 pound size and strength are his best assets. He doesn't have great feet so he's pretty much stuck at right tackle but if you're looking for a mauling, tough, run blocking right tackle this is your guy.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Top 15 Prospects in PA for 2016 Class (Preseason Edition)

1. Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh) RB- Athletically built at 5'11" and 200 pounds. Can add muscle without losing speed and that will help him with running between the tackles. Excellent speed, quickness, and vision.  All around back that has very good hands, too.  Committed to PENN STATE early, but he's been looking around. It's probable that he'll stay with Penn State but  Pittsburgh is the most obvious choice should he flip. Other offers include Alabama, Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, Notre Dame, USC, and many more.

2. Michal Menet, Exeter Township HS (Reading) OT- Needs to add weight to 6'5" 270 pound frame, but he has the feet, strength, and technique to be a big time college player. Extremely high upside. Committed to PENN STATE over Pittsburgh, Alabama, Duke, Georgia, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, South Carolina, Stanford, UCLA, and more.

3. Naseir Upshur, Imhotep Institute Charter HS (Philadelphia) TE- Not big at 6'2" and 235 pounds, but he is athletic, strong, and equally good in the run or pass game.  Miami and Michigan are considered the current favorites. Other offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, USC, Ohio State, Florida, Auburn, and just about everybody else.

4. Damar Hamlin, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) CB- Thin, but nice length at 6'1" and 180 pounds. Highly athletic with great range. Can play cornerback or safety at the next level, but his size at cornerback makes him a player that's high in demand. Pittsburgh and Ohio State may be the leaders, but other offers include Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Auburn, Clemson, Stanford, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Miami, Virginia Tech, and UCLA.

5. Karamo Dioubate, Prep Charter HS (Philadelphia) DE/DT- Nicknamed "The Reaper" for good reason. Tough and athletic at 6'4" 275 pounds, with a great burst.  Has the athleticism and speed to play end and the toughness and size to play inside. A bit of an unknown as to who he's looking at, but offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan State, Miami, Florida, Wisconsin, and Virginia Tech.

6. Brandon McIlwain, Council Rock North HS (Newtown) QB- Doesn't possess ideal size at 6'0" and 200 pounds, but he has a solid, athletic build. Athletic runner with good speed. Better than average arm. Suspect accuracy until this summer when he performed very well. Committed to SOUTH CAROLINA over Penn State, West Virginia, Auburn, Florida, Clemson, Miami, Ohio State, Michigan State, UCLA, Virginia Tech, and many others.

7. Kaezon Pugh, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa) LB- Athletic, fast, and tough at 6'2" and 220 pounds. Built like a rock already.  Could also be a major college running back but he appears best suited for linebacker. Pittsburgh and West Virginia are the leaders, but other offers have come from Auburn, Mississippi State, Miami, Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri, Arizona, Maryland, and Virginia Tech.

8. Khaleke Hudson, McKeesport Area HS (McKeesport) S- Athletic safety with great range. One of the hardest hitters in the state. Solidly built at 5'11" and 200 pounds. Has the ability to also be an excellent college running back but he was born to be a safety. The leaders appear to be Pittsburgh, Penn State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, but other offers include Nebraska, North Carolina, UCLA, and Virginia Tech.

9. Connor McGovern, Lake-Lehman (Lehman) C- Stocky, tenacious 6'4 1/2" 295 pounder with good feet and technique.  Considered by some as the best center prospect in the country.  Chose PENN STATE over Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Stanford, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Miami, and Duke.

10. Cary Angeline, Downingtown HS (Exeter) TE- At 6'7" he's obviously a great target. Basically a wide receiver in high school, and though he's up to 230 pounds he still has to gain a lot of weight to be an every down player. He's mostly just a pass receiver now so he will have to work a lot on in line blocking. Committed to USC over Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Oregon, UCLA, and Notre Dame, and many more.

11. Andrew Pryts, Hickory HS (Hermitage) S- Solidly built at 6'1" and 200 pounds. Good athleticism. Smart.  Vicious hitter.  Offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Stanford, Michigan, and Michigan State.

12. Johncarlo Valentin, Imhotep Institute Charter HS (Philadelphia) OG- Enormous size at 6'4" and 340 pounds. Obviously he will need to get in better shape but he moves well at that size and is a load to move. Michigan and Virginia Tech may be the leaders, but other offers have come from Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Auburn, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

13. Aaron Matthews, Clairton HS (Clairton) WR- Great length at 6'5" but needs to add some weight to his 185 pound frame. Not a blazer, but he has football speed, and he rarely gets caught from behind. Can lose a defender with just one long step. Great hands and knows how to use his frame. Performer very well against top competition this summer.  Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Maryland, and Minnesota are in his top group.

14. Therran Coleman, Brashear HS (Pittsburgh) CB- Nice corner size at 6'1" and 180 pounds. Very good speed and athleticism. Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are in the top group. Other offers have come from Arizona State and Virginia Tech.

15. Rashad Wheeler, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) DT- Excels on maybe the most talented team in the entire state. And at 6'3" and 270 pounds he has good size and athleticism. Has the frame to get bigger and stronger. Offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Maryland, Boston College, Rutgers, and Virginia, among others.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Panthers up to 8 commitments

It's been a busy week for the Panthers as new Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi added three more players. The first of the three was 5'11" 200 pound running back Chawntez Moss of Bedford (OH) HS. Moss has good size, speed, and hands, and he is known to be a very versatile back that can do a bit of everything, including returning kicks. His biggest offers, outside of Pitt, were Iowa, Indiana, and Cincinnati.

Yesterday, WR/CB Maurice Ffrench verbally committed.  Ffrench, from New Brunswick (NJ) HS, is a real sleeper at 6'0" and 180 pounds. He has very good speed and received some raves for his athleticism and hands at the Rivals camp

Today, the Panthers added the big time receiving talent that they need to lessen the blow of Tyler Boyd's impending departure by getting a commitment from 6'4" 190 pound wide receiver Ruben Flowers.  Flowers, from Lima (OH) HS, obviously has the size, but he also received raves this summer from national observers for his athleticism, good speed, and great hands. His other offers included Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, and Cincinnati.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Another piece added to the defense

Linebacker coach Rob Harley likes to quote from the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" when he says "always be closing", and the best recruiter on the staff closed well by landing 6'4" 220 pound linebacker Chase Pine tonight.  Pine, from Lafayette HS in Williamsburg, VA is somebody I've raved about on Twitter for months, due to his great height, speed, and athleticism. He's also a big hitter that can cover and play the run. Other offers for Pine included West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech, and Virginia.