Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Can Panthers land four PA superstars for 2013?

Robert Foster, Central Valley HS (Monaca) WR-  By now, any self-respecting Pitt fan knows that this is the best player in the WPIAL and the state, not to mention one of the top in the country.  In fact, I'm guessing he will generally be considered among the top 25 prospects in the country- at least.  Because he has the whole package- speed, height, hands, athleticism, and actual football ability- he will get offers from everyone.  Expect the SEC powers, the Florida schools, USC, Oregon, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and anybody else you can think of to offer him.  So why Pitt?

1.  Well, first of all, he is not enamored yet with any other school.  Usually if an elite kid from the area doesn't go to Pitt, it's because he has a particular fondness for someplace specific, usually Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, or Michigan, but it could be anywhere that for whatever reason he really wants to play there.  Foster doesn't have that yet. He doesn't even know that much about Urban Meyer, believe it or not. In fact, Pitt is the only school that he's very familiar with and even though all of his contact with Pitt has come during the Todd Graham regime, he has been at the school often and knows a lot of the players.

2.  While visiting Pitt for Panthers games and a camp, Foster said he loved the campus, likes Pitt, and likes that it's close to home.  And this was with the previous staff (who incidentally told him he was like family).

3.  His cousin is Pitt starting linebacker Todd Thomas and one of his close friends is Rushel Shell.  Plus, according to Chandler Kincade, Foster has been in a group of Beaver County kids, along with Shell, who said they would love to stay home and play at Pitt together.

4.  Pitt was his first offer and he says that gave him the confidence to be a better player so the offer was special to him.

5.  His mother lives in Philadelphia and his dad works long hours, so the person who helps him most in recruiting is Central Valley assistant coach Adam Caltury, who is only five years older and is also friends with Foster.  Caltury played at Monaca with Foster's older twin brothers, but they aren't around either, so Foster is practically part of Caltury's family (though Foster's father works often, they are still close).  When Foster and Caltury talk recruiting they agree that Foster should go where it feels like home.  What better place to feel like home than where his dad, mentor, and friends are?

6.  His favorite player is Larry Fitzgerald.

Patrick Kugler, North Allegheny HS (Wexford) OG-  Will probably be the No. 2 player in the state, behind Foster, and should be one of the top offensive line recruits in the country.  In fact, he already has about 20 offers, including Miami, Florida State, Stanford, and Virginia Tech, and that number will go up the longer he's on the market.  So why Pitt?

1.  This one is easy.  His dad, Sean Kugler, just happens to be the offensive line coach for the Steelers.  Let's see, he can stay home and be taught by offensive guru Paul Chryst and offensive line master Bob Bostad, who Coach Kugler no doubt thinks are excellent teachers.  Bottom line, why leave when you have the best  right down the road?  Seems hard to fathom that the Kuglers will see it any other way.

2.  He called the hiring of Chryst "awesome" and said that it should help bring back some of the nastiness to Pitt football.  The same can be said of Kugler.

Tyler Boyd, Clairton Area HS (Clairton) WR/S-  If possible, he may be even more explosive than Foster in high school, though admittedly it's in a smaller classification.  His recruitment should be interesting because he's in Class A, and those level of players rarely get a lot of offers, but that should be very different for Boyd who is already being looked at heavily by the likes of Notre Dame and USC.  So why Pitt?

1.  Obviously Pitt has locality on their side and already have on their roster Boyd's former teammates Manny Williams and Kevin Weatherspoon, and will have incoming freshman Trenton Coles next year.  Boyd has stated that he is worried that past Clairton players have not done well at Pitt, but the new staff can of course tell him that was with a different staff.

2.  His stepbrother is Tyrique Jarrett, who just happens to be the Allderdice lineman who is committed to play at Pitt next year.  Boyd's mother is married to Jarrett's father.  They don't live together because Jarrett lives with his birth mother, but Jarrett's full brother, Devante Gardlock, does live with Boyd's mother and Jarrett's father.  They'll be a test on this later.

Adam Breneman, Cedar Cliff HS (Camp Hill) TE-  The only one of the four not from the Pittsburgh area, but he would still be a huge get.  He's the new breed of pass catching field stretching tight ends that cause major matchup problems for defenses.  For that reason, Breneman already has offers not only from Pitt, but also Penn State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, and Stanford.  Needless to say, the competition is brutal and will probably get even more brutal.  But Breneman hopes to commit next summer, before his senior season begins, so maybe Pitt can get him before the competition gets even more fierce.  So why Pitt?

1.  He's already been to Pitt and enjoyed it, though it was when the Graham staff was there.  Of course he's a very nice kid who is grateful for all of the attention coming his way, so he pretty much says nice things about everybody.  But he's from the Harrisburg area and if he wants to stay close to home, he's not going to play at Temple or Maryland, and Penn State, once unofficially considered one of the favorites, has to be considered a long shot at the moment.  He knows Pitt is just a three and a half hour drive away, and it's the perfect opportunity for his family to see him play.

2.  Is there a better fit from a football perspective than Pitt right now?  I've talked about the new breed of pass catching tight end and there's been nobody more responsible for the current trend then Chryst who has four of his tight ends playing in the NFL currently and a fifth who is on his way.  Bottom line, Chryst is considered the man if you're a tight end and I don't see why this won't make Breneman extremely excited about the possibilities of learning under the best.

Summary:  Let me say first that I am not saying Pitt will get all, or even any, of these four wonderful prospects, but I can say without a doubt that the first time in many, many years the Panthers have a legit shot at some program changing in-state players.

The two with the most local ties are Foster and Boyd, but the other two, Kugler and Breneman, couldn't be better fits, and I'm sure if they don't know it now they will know it once the new Pitt staff gets to them.

If the Panthers can land these four then the Chryst reign will start off in grand fashion.  A future offense of Chad Voytik, Rushel Shell, Robert Foster, Adam Breneman, Adam Bisnowaty, and Patrick Kugler is potentially phenomenal.  Plus, it could potentially make Pitt such a power that future classes may fall into place accordingly.

Of course, this is the best case scenario and all just speculation right now, but with Penn State having their problems, and with all four of these players having legitimate reasons to play for the Panthers, it's not crazy to say that the 2013 Pitt class has the potential to change everything for Pitt.


  1. Wow Chris - I knew about Foster and the very real possibility of him getting to Pitt but, this article shows how extremely bright Panther Football can be if and as you say - it's speculation at this point but if, we get very fortunate with these four.....again WOW.

    The ties that these players have to Pitt are pretty special and like you said, along with Schell and Voytik, things may finally be coming together for the Pitt Panthers!

  2. Long way to go, but often Pitt is out of the running with such players almost immediately. At least this time they have a real shot.

  3. well lets hope that chryst can land them. others have said recruiting is not his strong point. i will give him the benefit of the doubt and wait and see how he does. if he can get those kids or most of them then that will be big for pitt and big for chryst and his reputation.

  4. Even if Chryst ends up not being a great recruiter, with these four he has two very important things going for him. One, locality and familiarity. Two, his reputation. If you're a local OL or TE and you don't look at Chryst and Bostad, then you would have to be crazy.

  5. Great to hear that Pitt has a real shot at these four players. It will be interesting once Chryst is here at Pitt and making contact with recruits. There are so many stories out there about his recruiting or lack of, but the one I read yesterday stated that he was a great closer under Bleima. Can't wait for Chryst to get his staff together and get things going here at Pitt.

  6. I'm surprised that these recruits high school coaches don't factor into their choices more highly. If I were advising these kids the one thing I'd tell a 17 or 18 year old kid is the importance of being close to home. It seems rather apparent that the last thing a recruit may want to do is end up in the quagmire at Ohio State or Penn State. The Gators are in a rebuilding phase and if coach Muschamp can't pull that offense together this season he'll go the route of Ron Zook. If these guys choose Pitt they could see immediate playing time or hit the field sooner than if they headed to those big name/problematic programs.

  7. Any word on who the next defensive coordinator will be ?

  8. The fact that Wisconsin LB coach Dave Huxtable was offered a job and didn't take it, tells me that Chryst didn't offer him the DC. And if he didn't offer him the DC then that means he already has somebody who has agreed to do it. If I had to guess I would think that guy would be Todd Orlando.

  9. that would be good if orlando does come here. i wish the wisconsin game was over with already so we could get this show on the road already. really interested to see what his staff will look like.

  10. Even though the staff can't do much recruiting now because it's a dead period, it would be good for the prospects to know who the coaches are so that they can start thinking about who could be coaching them. I don't agree with not making the staff choices public right now. And if he doesn't have all of his staff ready then he should be doing that rather than coaching in the Rose Bowl. I'm all for him being there IF it doesn't hurt Pitt, but if it does somehow hurt Pitt, then it's not a good way for him to start.

  11. Chris,

    Why speculate on potential "IF's" of Chryst at this point? "Hurting Pitt" is sort of a vague concept especially after the past year's coaching debacles (and I stress the plural there)and the on-field mediocrity. Chryst is not hurting Pitt by coaching at Rose Bowl. Let's see what he does and grade him by early January before even speculating on the "IF's".

    Few prospects, if they are considering Pitt, will view Chryst coaching the Rose Bowl as a negative. Getting coordinators on board will help with recruits but the hiring of Chryst will definitely cause all recruits with interest in Pitt to pause and allow for process to play out especially this early. If they don't, then Pitt lost its chances on them with coaching musical chairs. I am also sure the cameras will show Chryst during Rose Bowl and will mention that he is the new head coach at Pitt. To me, you can't buy that type of national coverage especially at Rose Bowl. It will definitely sell with recruits. Most pre and post-game Rose Bowl articles will most likely reference him as new Pitt coach. It was certainly an agreed upon decision by all involved for him to coach Rose Bowl. It also speaks to his character and value to team that Wisconsin wants him to coach their big game (something else to talk to recruits about). Allowing him to finish what was started allows all involved to put spin that it was the "right thing to do" and allows for appearance of stability at Pitt. Allowing for Chryst to finish what was started should ring well with recruits especially when several of the top recruits in Pennsylvania are eyeing PSU, OSU (you did great job outlining the top PA stars and their recruiting stories). It will allow him to share experience of Rose Bowl, importance of remaining loyal to the Wisconsin players, etc. to recruits. All good for Pitt.

    I'm Chryst supporter from beginning and have only become more encouraged when you hear all things being said about him by former players, current players, coaches, friends. I believe Pitt hit homerun even though it had its eyes closed the past 13 months. Let's worry about IF's when we have something real to chew on.

  12. If one of their 2012 targets chooses elsewhere or they lose ground then I don't see how you can't see that that's a problem. Now, the chances are that won't happen, and then it's okay, but it's definitely something that is possible.

  13. Doke,

    Does this Pac/Big tie up put the nail in the coffin of any hopes of Pitt/PSU football getting back on the schedule?



  14. Yeah, that can't be good for the former rivalry.