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.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Panthers get a fourth commitment

It's been awhile but Pat Narduzzi got his fourth verbal commitment today as 6'1" 160 pound free safety Bricen Garner pledged to the Panthers. Garner, from Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS, picked up his offer after performing at one of the Panthers camps. Garner has decent speed, but his length and athleticism are his major attributes. He is one of the most accomplished long jump and triple jump performers in Pennsylvania. Other offers include Cincinnati, UConn, Temple, and a bunch of mid-major programs.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Where Pitt stands with top WPIAL prospects

These things are fluid but this is how I see where the recruitment of the top WPIAL stars in the '16 and '17 stands now. 

Pitt is probable leader:

Aaron Mathews, WR- I have no idea why he is not getting more offers, but then again Tyler Boyd didn't get the offers he deserved either. The word with Mathews is that he's not a blazer but as he showed against top competition at camps this summer, nobody can seem to stop him. 

Bricen Garner, S- Pitt is his best offer right now and from what I can tell, the Panthers are a big leader at the moment. But the staff are looking at a lot of talented defensive backs so he better not wait too long.

Kaezon Pugh, LB/RB- I know there was a lot of talk early that West Virginia was his favorite but if you follow me you know I didn't agree with that. As is often the case, an inferior choice comes on strong early, but eventually a top prospect usually makes the most obvious choice.  Pugh is close with Dravon Henry at WVU, but he knows even more people at Pitt. 

Josh Lugg, OT (2017)- He already has excellent offers, and will get many more, but the Panthers appear to be the obvious leader. 

Pitt is among the leaders:

Miles Sanders, RB- I would never predict an elite prospect to switch from the current Penn State staff to anywhere else because that staff is very strong in recruiting. But Sanders is wavering much more than he leads on and Pitt is among those he's looking at. If there is a mass commitment from WPIAL stars, and Pitt has a quality season, the odds will go up.

Therran Coleman, CB- For a City League kid he's not the sure thing you'd expect. Wisconsin could be a major player. This is another player that may be swayed if other WPIAL players commit to the Panthers but if he sees Jordan Whitehead and Damar Hamlin on the Panthers roster he may feel he'd be better off elsewhere.

Damar Hamlin, CB-  When many had him pencilled in for Penn State and then Ohio State, I was saying that Pitt is a major player. Now it's apparent that the Panthers are indeed among the favorites, and possibly even the favorite. In fact, if I was told that Hamlin was committing today I would go ahead and guess Pitt. But the Panthers will have to keep the heat on, and do well on the field.

Khaleke Hudson, S/RB- This is another player where people wrote off Pitt, but the Panthers are in the thick of it, especially if Hamlin commits. It would be a huge coup to get not only a McKeesport player, but the best one in many years. 

Rashad Wheeler, DT- Yet another one that was written off, this time to Penn State. He's always liked Pitt, and he liked them even more after camping with them recently. It will definitely be a Pitt/Penn State battle and it's probably 50/50 right now.

CJ Thorpe, OT (2017)- A Penn State legacy so they may be the favorite, but the Panthers made an impression on him. It would be a real coup if they could steal him. As of now it's possible.

Donovan Jeter, DT (2017)- Another probable Pitt/PSU battle, though things would be even more interesting if Ohio State offers. The brother of Sheldon Jeter, and he likes Pitt and the staff a lot.

David Adams, LB (2017)- Was high on Penn State early but the Panthers have made up a lot of ground. Has stated that he definitely wants to play with Paris Ford, so that's good news for Pitt perhaps. If the Panthers land teammates Hamlin and Wheeler then the chances are even better.

Paris Ford, S (2017)- I've always had him going to Pitt in my mind, and if I had to pick today that would be the choice. He's one of the lynchpins to get a mass WPIAL commitment, and I feel that's good news for Pitt.

Lamont Wade, CB (2017)- This one is very interesting. By the time he could commit to Pitt, the cornerback position for the Panthers could be loaded but then again the same could be said for Ohio State and Penn State, who I would say is the other main options. He likes Pitt a lot but he's enjoying the attention of big time programs so this could go either way.

Pitt is a long shot:

Robert Hainsey, OT (2017)- An elite player that seems to be very pro-Penn State, and doesn't talk about Pitt.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A look at Pitt's football recruiting- Defense

Defensive Line

Roster:  It's on defense where the Panthers should get better in a very dramatic way. Pat Narduzzi and his defensive staff can really recruit, and players will love to play for Narduzzi and his charismatic defensive staff. But also, there's a lot to upgrade.

The defensive ends at the moment are suspect in both high end talent and depth. This is the last year for Ejuan Blair and Shakir Soto will have just one year after this. True sophomore Rori Blair has a chance to be very good as does incoming juco player Allen Edwards. But after that there's a big drop off.  Bottom line, this group needs a major overhaul.

At defensive tackle, the situation is just as dire since Darryl Render and Khaynin Mosley-Smith will be moving on after this season, and Tyrique Jarrett will be gone after next season.

2016:  Narduzzi added a big piece of the puzzle already by adding Tennessee transfer Dewayne Hendrix.  He's a former big time recruit that will have three years to play. He has the potential to be a star. But I expect two more at this position. The good news is, there are a lot of good choices.

Philadelphia end Karamo Dioubate is a clone of Hendrix and he is expected to visit Pitt next month. But the competition is brutal. Zach Gilbert, son of former Pitt star Sean, lives in North Carolina, but the staff is trying to get him to follow in the footsteps of his father. He's excellent. A couple of undersized sleepers from Philadelphia, Shaka Toney and Andre Mintze, are in the mix, and both could be good once they get bigger. In all, there's about 16 offers still remaining from around the country.

Like at end, quick playing time will help in landing quality tackles. A local, Rashad Wheeler, is a Pitt/PSU battle, and it would be a big win if the Panthers can land him. New Jersey's Michael Dwumfour showed well at Pitt camp, and now the Panthers are a major player in getting his commitment.  Harrisburg's Anthony Long tried to commit to the Panthers once so he could end up doing it again. About ten others are offered from around the country, many from Florida, including stud Aaron Thompson, who has Pitt among his top group.

2017:  Harrisburg's Damion Barber and Virginian Tyjuan Garbutt already have offers, and both should be major targets. Garbutt picked his first offer up at Pitt camp last week but he is expected to have many more. A must get is Donovan Jeter of Beaver Falls. He is the brother of Pitt basketball player Sheldon Jeter.  He will probably end up at defensive tackle.


Roster:  Nicholas Grigsby graduates after this season and Bam Bradley, Mike Caprara, and Matt Galambos will be gone after next season, but the underclassmen are a good start to improving the position.

Quintin Wirginis is just a sophomore, and James Folson and Jamal Davis are redshirt freshmen. They all have good potential. Incoming freshmen Anthony McKee and Salem Brightwell have an even higher upside. Five good young players is a nice start, but you can't have a great defense without great linebackers so more high quality additions are needed.

2016:  There's no WPIAL prospects at this position, or in Pennsylvania really, so this linebacker class is more of an unknown. There's nearly 20 offers out there to uncommitted players and with recruiting ace Rob Harley the linebacker coach, I wouldn't worry about them adding a couple of really good additions. One real gem would be Cameron Brown of Maryland. The 6'6" Brown has Pitt in his top 10 and he loves Narduzzi.

2017:  The staff already has seven offers out for this class which shows just how much they want to land top linebackers in this year. One local, David Adams of Central Catholic, will be a major target.

Defensive Backs

Roster:  This is may be the most interesting unit on the team because Narduzzi is known for great secondaries, there's already good young talent on the roster, and there's a chance to get amazing talent here in the next few years.

Lafayette Pitts is the only senior and there is plenty of good young talent.  Reggie Mitchell and Terrish Webb will be around for two more years and Avonte Maddox, Pat Amara, Dennis Briggs, and Phillipie Motley all have talent. If that's not good enough, incoming freshmen Malik Henderson and Dane Jackson are good, Jay Stocker is potentially excellent, and Jordan Whitehead has star potential. The future is bright even without a potential great DB class or two coming.

2016:  Tony Butler is already in the fold, at least for now. He's a perfect fit for Narduzzi's defense.  There's been a worry that he could flip, and while he would be a great addition, there's potentially so much talent in the unit that it may prove to not be devestating in the long run if he did flip. As any Panthers fan knows, WPIAL stars Damar Hamlin and Khaleke Hudson are the big time possibilities. Hamlin can project at corner or safety, while Hudson is a safety.  Other locals, cornerback Therran Coleman and safety Bricen Garner, are just two of many that are interested in the Panthers. Bottom line, when Narduzzi is your coach, defensive backs are interested.

2017:  The Panthers may already have an embarrassment of riches by this time, but it could get even better. Two locals, cornerback Lamont Wade, and safety Paris Ford, are as about as elite as prospects come, and the Panthers will be heavily involved with both.  Connor Hayward, son of Ironed, is also a top safety that has an offer.