Monday, January 23, 2012

The ten players that will determine the early success of the new Pitt staff

1.  J.J. Denman-  The former OT already committed to Penn State and then Wisconsin.  With Paul Chryst and Bob Bostad moving from Wisconsin to Pitt, the Panthers got a visit with a legit shot of landing the big time lineman.  Instead, perhaps because of rumors of Bostad leaving and Pitt's inability to publicly denounce those rumors, the Panthers staff could not close the deal on Denman.  Instead he has visited Rutgers who are now the favorite.

2.  Demetrious Cox-  The Jeannette safety was always open to Pitt as a possibility but now Ohio State and Penn State appears to have passed the Panthers.  One of the reasons Cox has stated for the Panthers falling behind is that he hasn't talked to Chryst very much.  The question is, why is that?

3.  Adam Pankey-  There are better players lower on this list but Pitt needs offensive linemen very much.  He committed to the Panthers, but before Chryst was hired he decided to visit West Virginia.  As of now it seems like the Panthers have somehow fallen behind WVU for his services.

4.  J.P. Holtz-  The former Penn State tight end commit has looked at Michigan State, but this is the one top prospect that looks like he could be headed to Pitt.

5.  Bam Bradley-  Not fast or athletic enough to be a safety and Pitt was honest when they told him they would be taking him as a linebacker.  He prefers to play safety so that hurts the Panthers chances. His brother plays for Pitt but that's not been enough to close the deal. Right now it looks like it's between Pitt, Ohio State, and Stanford and Bradley says Stanford is recruiting him the hardest right now.

6.  Anthony Standifer-  Very good Illinois corner that was being recruited by new Panthers RB coach Eddie Faulkner when he was at Northern Illinois.  It looks like he wants to go to Notre Dame but he has to take Spanish classes on the internet before he will be accepted there.  For that reason, there's always a chance that he will eventually end up at Pitt.  He was supposed to visit Pitt after signing day but it remains it be seen if it will actually happen.

7.  Dakota Conwell-  The Upper St. Clair linebacker was one of the better WPIAL prospects this year and while many fans downplayed the fact that de-committed from Pitt and committed to Arizona, the loss is significant for two reasons.  One, it's never good to lose a top WPIAL recruit, especially one that already committed to you, and, two, Pitt needs linebackers.  I also don't believe that Conwell couldn't fit into Pitt's system.  If Mike Caprara can then Conwell can.  The truth is, the fact that Pitt could not convince him to stay was a big miss on their part.

8.  Deaysean Rippy-  The Sto-Rox linebacker has always been trying to go anywhere other than Pitt and to be honest at this point he's more trouble than he's worth.  Even though the Panthers desperately needs linebacker depth I wouldn't blame them for not going after Rippy.

9.  Corey Jones- Yes, the Penn Hills WR is very small and yes, he is a potential academic casualty, but he's also a potential excellent return man, at worse.  It's never good to lose a fast, athletic WPIAL player who already committed, to a MAC school.  If an equal or better wide receiver was signed instead then it would make sense, but the program isn't exactly loaded with receivers.

10.  Sean Draper-  Glenville HS in Ohio is always loaded with top talent which is all the more surprising that this talented corner camped at Pitt under the former regime, and yet they never pursued him.  The new staff got in late and will have to battle Louisville, Iowa, and Illinois, but they have a good shot.


As you can see, things aren't exactly going swimmingly for the new staff.  They've already lost Conwell and Jones, and Pankey may be next.  The two best players, Denman and Cox, have plenty of reasons why they would come to Pitt yet it looks like the Panthers will miss out on both.

It's also a little troubling that the new staff doesn't seem very organized or focused.  It took over a week before Chryst talked to any recruit, or hired any staff, meaning he lost some potential recruits and let committed players get recruited by others.  Then when he did finally have most of his staff together, committed players and potential prospects still weren't receiving calls in a timely fashion.

The biggest test for the staff will be the next recruiting class, and I'm not suggesting that they won't do a good, or even great, job with that class.  But I'm also saying that they haven't exactly started out in fine fashion.

62 comments:

  1. So if I am reading this right it looks like 1 out of 10 is probable right now. Thats not good but he has kept the big time players here from this class and has about 9 more spots to fill or so lets see what happens.

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  2. The other thing Chris, I still dont see "his" players I see alot of losing Graham's players and guys that were being recruited already but I dont see the type of guys he is chasing for his type of team. WIth the diffrent styles of coaching I thought there would be a diffrent type of player being recruited more smash mouth. Are those guys out there and I am just missing him talking to them.

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  3. I don't know how much credit he gets for keeping the big time players. Those players said they were staying before Chryst was named the coach. I give most of the credit for those kids staying to the kids themselves. They recruited each other during the coaching search.

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  4. Since he has never been a headcoach there are going to be issues regarding organization because the guy is learning on the job, something Pitt cannot afford. This was a bad hire !!

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    Replies
    1. ^^This was a stupid comment!!

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    2. Point of order: if you plan to make personal-attack comments, then don't be a coward and hide behind the "Anonymous." Sack up and name up.

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    3. I meant that for the "Anonymous" who said it was a studpid comment, not the "Anonymous" who made the original comments. Altho IMO it would help all of us if both parties named-up.

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    4. So a guy using a screen name is asking people to refrain from posting anonymously? Thats funny....

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    5. JLawrence - great post!

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  5. Thanks, Chris. I still hope to be proven wrong, but this update was depressing. So far, one zero-star recruit? Sheesh...

    I've been saying even before Chryst got hired, the fact that Wisconsin didn't allow its OC anywhere near their recruiting efforts spoke volumes. The fact that Wiscy AD cold-called Pitt -- and anyone else in PA who knew how to spell Pitt -- to beg we take him off their hands, spoke volumes (altho I'm sure they didn't expect Chryst to raid their staff).

    We hired an NFL-style staff in an NFL city. Unfortunately, it was Pitt (in the CFB biz) that hired them, not the Steelers. So Chryst & COmpany will be fine as soon as the NCAA implements a draft. [insert sound of crickets].

    In college, recruiting is absolutely everything. There is no draft, and none is coming. Too bad our shiny new coach doesn't seem to grasp that concept.

    The bright side, there won't be many other BCS-AQ schools chasing our zero-star slow and undersized players.

    Depressing... Is it too soon to start drinking?

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  6. From a huge fan of yours....this column, at best, is speculation and, at worst, ridiculous hyperbole.

    Assuming that Denman won't be a panther because of Pitt not denying internet rumors of his impending departure is lacking any factual basis and should be said as much. He committed to PSU, then de-committed, then committed to Wisky, then took two visits to Pitt and Rutgers. Its quite a leap to blame his lack of solidarity on a coach that was hired about a month ago...

    Cox has never been interested in Pitt - not when Wannstedt was here, not when Graham was here, and, it appears, not when Chryst was here. He's not a loss - he was never a realistic win.

    Re: Pankney, you act as if Pitt should be a slam dunk over WVU. WVU's staff, of which he is familiar with, had been recruiting him for at least a year. Now, we have a new regime. I don't think it is a reflection on Chryst for him to have second thoughts or to perceive himself as more comfortable with WVU's staff.

    You seem to have glossed over the fact that Holtz is now interested.....when he just wasn't several weeks and one staff ago. A lot of credit should go to Chryst if he lands Holtz, not only because he wasn't interested until Chryst arrived, but because, unlike Pankney and some others on your list, he is a legit stud.

    Bam Bradley looks to be a casualty of truth talking by the staff, Corey Jones should be nicknamed 'Redundant' because of the Davis brothers, Rippy has never wanted to go to Pitt and should be looked at accordingly, and it looks like we have a shot with Standifer and Draper.

    In essence, the ones you are giving them grief for were either lost causes originally or other circumstances made them unlikely with any staff. Conwell is a loss, and, probably should be laid at the feet of the staff - not because they did something wrong, but because they couldn't keep him in the fold. However, besides him, your article assumes a bunch and is unfair in a lot of respects. It's almost as if you are fitting square pegs into your pre-conceived narrative that questioned Chryst's recruiting efforts.

    You're better than that, Doke.

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  7. First of all, on Denman, I specifically said "perhaps" the Bostad rumors had something to do with him not coming to Pitt. And the coach who was hired a month ago was the guy he went to Wisconsin for in the first place so you are completely wrong about that one.

    Cox was always interested in Pitt and that's a fact. I even talked to his dad at a Jeannette game late in the year.

    There's no reason to lose Pankey either. You have the best OL coach in the country. If you can't convince a kid to stay with that then you have failed. Unless of course WVU is telling him that Bostad will be gone, which brings us again to Pitt failing to stop those rumors.

    I didn't gloss over Holtz at all. I've written often that he's a good player and he definitely is one of the few uncommitted prospects that the staff has actually paid a lot of attention to.

    All in all, you are giving a lot of excuses for this staff. Bottom line, they lost nobody before Chryst was hired and now they are in danger of having less talent on hand on signing day then what they had when they started. I don't care how many excuses you make for them, but IF that happens, then then they have failed.

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  8. Doke:

    The notion that Denman may not be coming to Pitt because Pitt wasn't active enough in denying the rumors about Bostad going to the Bears doesn't hang together for three reasons. First, the rumor was out there for just a few days. Second, the rumor was refuted last week, which was two weeks before LOI day. Third, if Denman really wanted to play for Bostad, he still had two weeks to readjust his thinking back to the idea that Bostad would be his coach. So if he is going to Rutgers, it must be for a reason(s) other than this, and he must not have been very enthusiastic about Pitt for other reasons.

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  9. Doke....

    You can't use, on one hand, the familiarity with the staff in Denman's case but not use it in Pankney's case and/or Conwell's case. Pankney committed to a staff that isn't here and was familiar with a staff that is still in West Virginia. Conwell committed to a staff that is in Arizona, either Tuscon or Tempe, not in Pittsburgh. If Denman is to be a slam-dunk, Pankney and most definitely Conwell should be looked at in the same way as a slam-dunk loss. Either staffs matter or they don't. You can't use one while ignore the other in the context of explaining recruiting wins or losses.

    Cox's dad telling you that he was interested in Pitt is pretty low on the importance chain of whether he is or is not. Actions speak louder than words.....and Mr. Cox has not been a frequent visitor to the South Side. I won't even get into the fact that Jeannette is far from hospitable ground for Pitt.....

    I'm not making excuses, as I usually get critiqued for being negative, just as I presume you do as well. I am just standing for the belief that this particular article came off as a rant out of frustration rather than an objective look at the recruiting successes and failures a month into the new regime. Plus, while I read that you don't give Chryst any credit for keeping the main guys in the fold (re: Voytik, Shell, Biz, Davis 2'd, Render, Hilliard) I cannot then accept you faulting them for not keeping two or three guys from decommitting. For a guy that knows the history and stats of recruiting better than most, I'm sure you would agree that with any coaching change - particularly at the time and date it happened - there will be some casualties. The fact that we seem to be overanalyzing and, in some instances, obsessing over the loss of Corey Jones or Dakota Conwell or Pankney......and no more or better players speaks well to the Chryst transition rather than negatively. You can't just credit the kids - they had to like the coach and his attention to stick around, especially those with multiple options.

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  10. Chris: Isn't this recruiting stuff not going great really a result of Chryst's decision to coach in the Rose Bowl? I still think that was a good decision and understand that he was probably behind organizationally because of that committment....but keeping that committment just felt right after what Graham did to Pitt....I think we need to take a deep breath and let Chryst find his way.

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  11. Look, man, it's recruiting. There's no excuses. You get the players- period. All that matters is the bottom line and right now Pitt's bottom line is not as good as it was when Chryst arrived. That's a fact. But like I said, that's right at this moment. Things may change before signing day and they may have a great class next season. I'm not declaring that this staff can't recruit. I'm just saying they haven't done a great job so far.

    As for Denman, the rumors have not been refuted because Pitt knows they can't refute them. The possibility of Bostad leaving is very real until proven otherwise.

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  12. CJK, I'm okay with him in the Rose Bowl, but he could have still called some kids. It takes two minutes a kid. He could have done it. It would not be a big deal if he closed this class well but so far he hasn't.

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    1. Agreed! Per the Nit's Scout.com page, apparently Bill O'Brien is calling PSU's recruits every day over lunch and every nite despite preparing for the Super Bowl. But we're expected to believe our shiny new HC couldn't make some calls due to preparing for the Rose Bowl?

      And even if that was true (which I don't accept), then what's stopping them from making calls now? Seriously, what the hell else can they be doing that can't wain until after LOI day next week? Rhetorical....

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    2. During the time Coach Chryst was preparing Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl game, was that not the 'Dead Period'? If so, he would only be allowed to make one phone call per week which would make it difficult to talk to every recruit. He was therefore limited talking to recruits while at Wisconsin. The Dead Period does not end until January 3rd which ended the day after the Rose Bowl game.

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  13. I'm still not worried. this staff has had to get to know all of these recruits, learn how to recruit them to Pitt (for the ones that came from Wisconsin) all with only about 5 weeks left until signing day. Corey jones doesn't fit a pro style offense anyways. Pitt has quite a few slot receivers and with pankey, I'm not quite sure what his thought process would be if he chose wvu. if he does that means one or some of a few things. it wasn't a football decision(bostad is a great coach), he wants to go somewhere with a staff he knows, or Pitts staff are simply awful recruiters. I hope it's not the latter

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  14. Conwell stated that he had a close relation to Gibson and wanted to play in a 3-3-5. Add Render to the equation and you can't count this against Chryst.

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  15. Like I said, Conwell alone would not be a problem. It's the totality of it all. All that matters is how many good players you have at the end of the day and if you have less than what you started with then that's not good. Not the end of the world, and not necessarily a sign of bad things to come, because they are still going to add some good players.

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  16. Doke:

    Are you saying that Bostad may still leave for Chicago? Somebody refuted the rumor last week, but I can't remember who. It's really hard to believe that he would do that to Chryst, who is supposedly a very good friend of his.

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  17. A chance to be the OL coach for the Chicago Bears is hard to turn down, though he may if given the chance. But neither Bostad nor Pitt has come out and said it's not true. I don't care what they say privately because that means nothing. Competitors are going to hammer away at that. Trust me, these guys can get ugly.

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  18. I remember now that it was refuted in either the Post Gazette or Trib or both. I can't remember who the paper(s) said refuted the rumor, but it clearly stated that Bostad was staying at Pitt.

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  19. P.S It was a very brief article, which I think was under Ray Fitipaldo's byline.

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  20. There was no quote and nobody who would go on record. That means nothing.

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  21. Chris, I think you are giving a realistic assessment of the situation. I can understand the people who has an unfailingly optimistic attitude about this staff. So far, if 5 weeks their efforts have produced 1 no star recruit. That's it.

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  22. Can't understand

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  23. I think people are getting upset because Chris is being pretty realistic here when it comes to recruiting. I think this comment, by Jones, is very scary: “'When coach Graham was there, I would get a lot of phone calls from Pitt,' Jones said. 'After he left, that slowed down. I just felt like things fell off or something. I felt like I wasn’t a main priority for them.'" I know Jones is disgruntled about his potential playing time and I know he won't really fit into Chryst's system, but if this comment is true for every recruit, then this could potentially screw the class. I did like the fact that every recruit thought Graham wanted him and I credit that to his very intense recruiting efforts, but that change in dynamic from Graham to Chryst will kill the morale potentially.

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    1. Snake Oil salesman have a way of doing that.

      Perhaps less attention has been paid where the kids arent as good a fit and more attention is veing paid to kids not on Graham's list?

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    2. Perhaps we can just admit his madness payed off sometimes

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  24. Reply to pk's "I'm still not worried. this staff has had to get to know all of these recruits, learn how to recruit them to Pitt (for the ones that came from Wisconsin) all with only about 5 weeks left until signing day."

    Dude, here's a wake-up call for you: national signing day is NEXT WEEK! Not in 5 weeks. Not even 2 weeks!

    And our guys are losing traction with elite recruits because (per Dokish's post...) they evidently can't even be bothered to make a phone call? WADR, what the [heck] else are they doing??

    Sounds to me like they're learning how to recruit on the job, not "how to recruit them to Pitt." In fact, so far it appears our staff's approach and tactics are sound ones if the goal is to steer them to Rutgers or PSU.

    That said, I sure hope that you're proven right and I'm proven wrong on LOI Day next week.

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  25. I thought Rudolph and Bostad were supposed to be dominant recruiters...what is going on down there? I can't understand why we can't get any new commits....

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  26. imma man. they were hired with about 5 weeks left. and you do realize that you can't sell all the same things for every school right?

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    1. Sorry, now I see what you meant. That wasn't clear when I first read your comment.

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    2. PK - Graham was hired in a similar window and under far less favorable circumstances, and he brought in some players.

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    3. JM - thats correct but no one knew who they were until LOI day....so I'd say we give Chryst a little slack and see what he brings in.

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  27. Then why publish the article? What was the point of it?

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  28. Isn't it possible that Chryst is targeting two or three top shelf players and may be willing to hold any remaining scholarships for 2013?

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  29. I believe Pitt has 25 scholarships to give this year!!!

    So far, 15 commits... I hope they don't "give" them away to recruits that will never see the field!!

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  30. 2/3 of most classes never turn out to be top players. Coaches like to fill up their roster year by year and then worry about next year at that time.

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  31. How many 1st year coaches not named Urban Meyer and don't work at factories like OSU land big time recruits in their first year, only one month on the job? This is silly. Pitt held onto Chad Voytik, Russell Shell, and Adam Bisnowaty. BE HAPPY, THERE WERE 6 PEOPLE AT THE PITT/UCONN GAME.

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  32. FWIW Conwell is under 6 feet.

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  33. Of course he is. By this time next week he will be under 5 feet. Amazing how Pitt fans love Conwell, Jones, and Cook when they were with Pitt but now all of a sudden they are all shrinking by the day.

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  34. I was standing next to him the other day. Graham recruited shorties. If they were so good, why hasn't Graham offered them at ASU? Corey Jones to Toledo over Pitt, yeah right. Brandyn Cook to Miami of Ohio over Pitt, year right. Conwell is small man. He might be a good player at Arizona, but seriously, you act like these kids were world beaters. Brandyn Cook had no offers. Jones won't make grades. Conwell's old man is up Rich's bum. Let's think about this a little.

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  35. Chris,

    All in all I don't see many "make or break" recruits in those that you've listed. Most will go on to receive a fine education, but spare me the western PA recruits that will head out west to Arizona or a MAC school. Perhaps the guys you listed aren't the guys that will fit into Chryst's system and perhaps Chryst has seen the film on these guys and they just didn't stand out as anything super-special (they certainly don't to me.)
    Perhaps Chryst saw to put an emphasis on using his time to get the best coaching staff possible instead of going after a bunch of undersized slow western PA questionable talent?
    Right now the emphasis at PITT and for Chryst should be teaching his kids hwo to play with heart, as a team, and how to block and tackle (which the excellent recruiter Wanny and the high-octane fraud never did.)

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  36. People are getting way too defensive about what I said. Of this group, the top four were the only ones that were truly important and Pitt will get one and maybe two of those. The rest aren't as highly rated but it's kind of depressing that Pitt had a chance at only four top recruits at the end of this class. They were a top 25 class at one time, and were on the verge of entering the top 20. They are now probably in the 40s and will probably eventually get back into the 30s. Not the end of the word, but the talent level dropped SOME and that's all I was saying.

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  37. Fake Dokish quote:
    "Chryst has no HC experience and has been on the job less than a month. He should be reeling in 5-star recruits like he's fishing in a koi pond."

    Please don't delete my comment. Either take the criticism like a man or stop writing. Thanks.

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  38. Wait, let me get this straight. You're a gutless puke that criticizes people anonymously and you trash me? You're a dick. Put your real name or shut the hell up.

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  39. Glad you could attack me right back. Do yourself a favor and go cover WVU. You fit in with their kind much better.

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  40. I stand by my words because I put my name out there. Unlike you. Real tough on the internet you loser.

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  41. I don't understand why us pitt fans are so hard on a guy for being on the job for only a month...players don't want to come to pitt b/c look at what pitt has done over the years...nothing...and in the past year we have been looked down on...now we have a coach that can get pitt back to respectability (where wanny almost had it their but ppl lost faith in him so it's back to square one again)...every player that has came to visit pitt and the one's that are on the fence now mostly say that the coaches are great show them a great time and give us a feel that they care for us a family feel (just like Wisconsin was = two stgaight bcs rose bowls)...denman did not feel comfortable here his best friend is at rutgers and it is in his backyard (those rumors may have put a play in as well gave rutgers, the old pitt coaches fuel to their fire)...with cox i think it's a must to get every w.p.i.a.l player (but we also failed with pryor too with wanny, so that has always been a problem here at pitt not the current staff...all in all we got a great coach and a great staff with bobby engram coming (not sure when but all signs point he will be here) and a d-line coach that has worked on the giants staff who will be coming off the superbowl experience...give these guys time, there will get pitt to where wanny had us...and maybe even higher...have faith instead of negativity

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  42. Dokish is the King of Negativity.

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  43. Two weeks ago another anonymous coward called me a homer. That takes great skill on my part.

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  44. Chris,

    I appreciate your point of view regardless of your take. At least your not like the "other guy" (who I know is your friend but runs his blog like Pravda......... I think we all know who he is and the reason he never became anything more than a beat writer because of his bad attitude.)
    I think, after watching the Stanford's and Houston's of college football put together some nice seasons that it all comes down to recruiting a prized QB and coaching up whatever talent you have in the cupboard. (Does anyone believe Stanford goeas anywhere near as far without Andrew Luck?) Pitt hasn't had a stud at QB since Dan Marino and Alex van Pelt might have been the closest to him since then. It's been a dire situation at QB for what seems like eons. If Baylor can recruit an RG III, Pitt should at least be able to get someone at half of that caliber of play.

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  45. Recruiting was the biggest concern I had about Coach Chryst. It's one of the most important aspects to success in college football, and right now, Pitt doesn't seem to be faring so well. Maybe he's just getting adjusted to the responsibilities of a head coach, and things will turn out OK. Right now, I do have some concern.

    Hopefully, letter of intent day will remove some of the doubt that seems to be lingering about the new staff's recruiting abilities.

    I hope Coach Chryst realizes how vitally important recruiting is. It's great to be a good X's and O's guy, but you need to get the horses to run the X's and O's.

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  46. If you haven't noticed (and I don't understand why cause you are a recruiting analyst, right?) but most of these kids that decommitted from pitt, don't have big time offers. Neither do Williams, Jarrett, Parks and Geter. What is your opinion on those 4 kids today, because I want to know soon. If none of them enroll at Pitt cause of grades, I would like to get your professional opinion of them now. Todd Graham recruited some very suspect kids IMO. No grades, and lack of offers from BCS programs.

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  47. Doke:

    I tried to post this twice under the article announcing Holtz commiting to Pitt, but it did not show up under the comments. In fact, there are no comments for that article, and I am now guessing the reason for this is that there is a glitch in the system that is not accepting comments for that article. At any rate, I will give it another try here.

    I am really glad that Holtz opted for Pitt. He is a great pick-up. But I am wondering about the status of other recruits who initially verballed to Penn State. After the scandal hit, there was talk about a lot of recruits reneging on their commitments. But the only ones I have heard about that have definitely decommited are Schutt and Holtz. I have also heard speculation that some more guys may be leaving, e.g., Mohrningweg, but to the best of my knowledge they have not left yet. What is the latest information you have about the status of this situation?

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  48. I dont understand how this "great line coach" gave up the most sacks in the country. so it seems to me that saying it isnt a football based decision for pankey to go to WVU seems foolish. I wouldnt want to be associated with an ol that gave up the most sacks either.

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  49. I assume you aren't a Pitt fan or you would know that it's not even the same coaching staff, including the line coach.

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