Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Prospect Bios for Pitt football recruiting class

Cream of the Crop:

Rushel Shell, Hopewell HS (Aliquippa, PA) RB-  The all-time leading rusher in the state of Pennsylvania and broke the longtime Billy Sims national record for consecutive 100 yard games.  All this despite nearly dying as an infant because of bad health.  He also had bad asthma until his early teens.

Bull strong at 6'0" and 210 pounds, and runs well between the tackles.  Not a blazer but speed is good enough.  Much more wiggle then he's given credit for.  Excellent hands and a good blocker. Very durable and gets better as the game goes on.

He and his girlfriend are expecting twins.

Was offered by just about every major program in the country including Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, and Oregon.

Bottom line:  A potential star who can do it all. No weaknesses. Can run inside and out, catch, and block.

Chad Voytik, Cleveland HS (Cleveland, TN) QB-  Generally considered one of the top ten quarterback prospects in the country.  His father is a doctor and he wants to be a doctor, too.

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.

Other offers included Penn State, Clemson, Virginia, Mississippi State, and Louisville.

Bottom line:  Has all the skills, both physically and mentally, to be a star.  And his odds of doing so actually went up with Chryst mentoring him.

Adam Bisnowaty, Fox Chapel Area HS (Pittsburgh) OG-  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 if 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.

J.P. Holtz, Shaler Area HS (Pittsburgh) TE- A one time commit of Penn State, he changed his mind after the Jerry Sandusky controversy started.  Played tight end, running back, quarterback, and linebacker in his high school career but projects as a tight end for the Panthers.

Solidly built at 6'4" 240 pounds.  Runs and plays very hard.  Much more athletic, fast, and flexible than most players his size.

Other than Penn State, his offer list also included Michigan, Michigan State, Arkansas, Rutgers, Virginia, Boston College, and Cincinnati.

Bottom line-  A tough western PA player just like the old days.  Combined with his heart, athleticism, and Chryst's tight end friendly style, and he should have a very successful career.  Like I was quoted on KDKA-TV, there are athletes who play football and then there are football players, and Holtz is a football player.

Demitrious Davis, Austintown Fitch HS (Austintown, OH) WR-  Played quarterback at Fitch but projects to a slot receiver for the Panthers.  He was recruited by Todd Graham and was perfect for that system, but decided to stick around for Chryst.

Not big at 5'10" and 185 pounds, but has excellent speed to go with superb quickness, acceleration, athleticism, and running ability.

Other offers include Arkansas, West Virginia, Oregon, Oregon State, Baylor, Arizona, UCLA, Iowa, Illinois, and Cincinnati.

Bottom line:  He was more perfect for Graham's system but he's so good that Chryst will find a way to use him.

Bam Bradley, Trotwood-Madison HS (Trotwood, OH) LB/S-  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.

Other offers included Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan State, Stanford, and Arizona.

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.

Deaysean Rippy, Sto-Rox HS (McKees Rocks, PA) LB/S-  One of the more mercurial players in not only the state but in the country.  His impressive offer list before the season started shows just how much potential he has.  Unfortunately, though, he has yet to live up to his huge potential.

At 6'2" and 200 pounds he is yet another linebacker in this group that needs to get bigger, but he has very good speed, toughness, and athleticism.  When he wants to he can get into a higher gear, but it doesn't happen enough.  He also has the potential to be an excellent safety due to his speed and range.

Some of his many offers included West Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, USC, Nebraska, and Ohio State.  However, at the end of the year, only West Virginia on that list was a committable offer.

Bottom line:  This kid has all kinds of potential but he has yet to turn it on.  Is he always going to be an underachiever or will the lightbulb come on and he will develop into a star?  One thing is for sure, it's worth a scholarship to find out.

The Rest:

Chris Davis, Austintown Fitch HS (Austintown, OH) WR-  The identical twin of Demetrious, he's a tad smaller at 5'9" and 185 pounds.  Like his brother he has very good speed, quickness, and running ability.

Other offers include Arkansas, West Virginia, Oregon State, Arizona, Baylor, UCLA, Iowa, and Boise State.

Mike Caprara, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh, PA) LB-  One of the most productive tackling machines in WPIAL history yet received no offers until new linebacker coach Chris Haering was hired.  Haering, the former coach at Mt. Lebanon, had to go against Caprara for four years and thought he should be at Pitt.

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.

Terrell Jackson, Marion-Franklin HS (Columbus, OH) DT-  It's not often that a kid from Columbus goes to Pitt, but that's the case this time.  He had a good season and got some impressive offers at the end of the recruiting cycle when some of the bigger programs were looking to add linemen at the end.

Has the ability to be a strong side end but it better suited for the interior since he isn't highly explosive. Will have to add weight to his 6'3" 270 frame, though.

Other offers included Illinois, Iowa, an Toledo.

Bottom line:  The Panthers need defensive linemen badly and he is a good development prospect that could be productive once he gains some size.

Darryl Render, St. Edward HS (Brook Park, OH) DE-  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.

Other offers include West Virginia, Iowa, Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, and UConn.

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.

Trenton Coles, Clairton Area HS (Clairton, PA) DB/WR-  Excellent 6'3" height but has to add a lot of weight to his 170 pound frame.  Had legitimate 4.5 speed and good athleticism and jumping ability but blew his knee out kicking an extra point in the state championship game.

Other offers came from Akron, Temple, and Ohio.

Bottom line: You can't teach height or speed so if he recovers fully from his knee injury and adds weight, he has the potential to help the team in a few years.

Ryan Lewis, Eastlake HS (Sammamish, WA) CB-  It's not too often that the Panthers get somebody from Washington.  Hell, it may be the only time.  But the nephew of former Pitt cornerback great Tim Lewis is worth a shot due to his nice 6'0" 185 pound size and legit 4.4 speed.

Other offers include Utah and Colorado.

Bottom line- He has some work to do as a football player but his size and speed makes him very intriguing.

Gabe Roberts, New London HS (New London, WI) OG-  He had no major offers and was headed to Wisconsin as a preferred walk-on until a late Pitt offer.  He is strong and mobile, plus is already 6'4" and 290 pounds.

Bottom line-  A definite sleeper who seems to have enough going for him that he very well could be the next Bob Bostad project that turns into a very good lineman.

Devon Porchia, Gilman School (Baltimore, MD) LB-  Like the other linebackers on the list, he needs to add a lot of weight, as he is now only 200 pounds, but he is 6'2" and has long arms.  Good speed and an ever better athlete.  Comes from a top football program and started for three years.

Other offers include Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Wake Forest.

Bottom line:  Has the ability to be a good player down the road, after he gains weight.

Jahmahl Pardner, Aquinas Institute (Rochester, NY) CB-  A late bloomer who had a great year for one of the better teams in the state.  Like most players, he needs to add weight but has good height at 6'0" and 175 pounds.  Not a speed demon but good speed and athleticism.  If he proves not to have enough speed for corner he may end up at safety.

Other offers include Akron, Bowling Green, and Temple.

Bottom line:  Good corner size and good instincts so he definitely has a chance to become a player down the line.


  1. Chris, what grade would you give Pitt coaches on this year's recruiting class?

    I think they did okay -- I would say better than okay had they been the team to actually assemble the class (as opposed to merely holding it together). We'll get to judge them on that skill set next year.

    Speaking of, if Voytik unexpectedly washes out of college football, Pitt should immediately promote him to recruiting coordinator.

    I still say losing DE Hilliard to 'Cuse was a real kick in the [onions], a mistake we'll regret for 4-5 years. But they won some nice last minute consolation prizes in Bradley and Rippey.

  2. They did very good under the circumstances. There are some future excellent college players in this lot and even the lightly recruited kids have potential. There were a few players I wasn't enamored with and they are actually gone now. Every one of these kids have potential.

  3. Doke:

    Since the hiring of Chryst, how do you think Pitt did in regard to additions (Holtz, Bradley, Rippy, Jackson, etc.) vs. losses (Pankey, Conwell, Hilliard, etc.) The loss of Pankey probably hurts the most because he is an o-lineman. But taking this into consideration and also considering that Chryst did hold on to Shell, Voytik, and Bisnowaty, would you say that Pitt's recruiting was a net positive or negative since the hiring of Chryst?

    Also, what are your thoughts about Pitt not hiring Cristobal now in view of how Chryst has done with recruiting and especially since Cristobal didn't take the Rutgets job?

  4. It's way too early to make an overall decision on Chryst's recruiting. That will be determined in the next class. To be honest, with some of these top kids at the end, Pitt got them because they were the last ones standing. That's often the case with Pitt as I've mentioned before. Harris and Wannstedt were the same. They hang on to a kid long enough that they work their way to the top. Bradley wanted to go to Stanford and Rippy wanted to go to Florida, among other places. But other schools fell through and Pitt was standing there at the end. That's a good thing to never give up and it's become a Pitt tradition to get some really good kids at the end by doing that.

    As for the first part of your question, I think if Graham had stayed he would have had a better recruiting class than this. And before everybody gets all excited, it's because he had all year to recruit and Chryst had less than a month. I know that, but I'm just answering the question. Of course the class would be better if Graham stayed. Not that I want him back. Chryst did a good job of rallying and in 2013 we'll really get to see what he has.

    1. If Graham were here... he would not have landed Holtz and Rippy. Rippy said he was not interested in Pitt with Graham as HC.

      Overall, 16 committs..
      Ranked in the 30ish...

      But, he still has some ships to give out if he wants... transfers?
      Next year need will be OL and DL!!!

  5. He would not have landed Holtz and Rippy but he was on some different 4 star players, including about 5 jucos. Graham's class would have been in the top 25, at least. But like I said, he should be better because he had all year to recruit. It's an unfair advantage.

  6. Chris, can you elaborate on why you think Graham's class would have been better? You said "there were a few players I wasn't enamored with and they are actually gone now," so your least favorite players in the class in all likelihood would have stayed with Graham and are now gone with Chryst; clear case of addition by subtraction, point Chryst. Rippy said he would not have come under Graham, so score another one for Chryst. I think Holtz was a big addition that Graham might not have pulled off because he doesn't use TEs anything like the way Chryst/Bostad use/develop TEs, so that's a partial score for Chryst. Jackson and Bradley were on Graham's radar but were certainly not sure things, so let's give a small edge to Chryst because he actually landed them. Lewis has physical skills but is raw, clearly a Chryst recruit, let's give him a very small bump for Lewis. I don't think Standifer was on Graham's radar, and he looks pretty good and like a Pitt lean at this point.

    Presumably Graham would have gotten Conwall and Pankey, these seemed like pretty solid players so Graham scores here. Did we lose anyone else that Chryst actually wanted (guessing he wanted these guys) from Graham's class? If not, at current tally it seems like a clear edge to Chryst over Graham with respect to how this class turned out. Are there a couple of high-profile recruits who you think were pretty strong leans for Graham who went elsewhere because of the coaching change? It seems like there must be if you thought Graham would have had a better class than Chryst. Who are these guys?

  7. Oops, saw your 8:30 post after my 8:40 was submitted. Graham may have been "in on" a few 4 star players, but unless he was likely to sign at least 3 of them, he doesn't beat Chryst on this dimension. I saw Graham added about 5 jucos to ASU, if these are the players you were referencing, I'd just as soon not have them. Throw in the fact that Chryst nudged out some of Graham's lower-end prospects, and let's call Bradley/Jackson for a Conwall/Pankey a wash (I like the former pair more, but there's some chance Graham would have gotten one or both), I don't see a strong case for Graham's class being better than Chryst's. Perhaps similar, but that says a lot for Chryst who didn't start until the second week of January.

  8. Graham was close to adding two 4 star WRs and two 4 star OL, all jucos. And he was already ranked around 25 at the time. I'm not saying Graham's class would have been overwhelmingly better because it wouldn't have been. And to be honest, with an 11 month head start Graham should have beat him by more. All things considered, Chryst, and the remaining Pitt recruits, combined to bring in a very good class, and it's very impressive under these conditions. To be honest, most of the credit goes to kids like Voytik and Shell.

  9. doke just a question for ya. I remember a few years ago when we signed Anthony Gonzalez, the kid from the AAAA school, I want to say he won a state chmpionship with them too? Coming out of High school he was one of the top 20 rated qbs.. But when graham got here he turned him into the "h-back" because he was just to darn good to sit around and let his talent go to waste.. My question is, do we give him a chance at his natural position of qb this year? since we don't want to rush voytik this year..

  10. I like Gonzalez as a player but they haven't been able to find anywhere for him. I don't know what Chryst's plans are for him, and if he will give him a shot at QB, but his actual passing skills have not been up to par. That's not a good weakness for a QB obviously. Personally I would keep him at TE where he could thrive in this offense.

  11. Good point, I just hate knowing our team is relying on tino. But I really hope chryst can work him out or give the qb from ohio a chance. Meyers I want to say? Because he has the arm strength and everything needed. He was just not fit for todd grahams spread

  12. Mark Myers is big and he has a strong arm but he's lacking all the nuances it takes to be a QB. I'm sure Chryst will work like hell on him, though, just to see if he can turn him into anything.

  13. Hopefully he can turn him into something. What's your input on the qb situation for next year?

  14. Well, Chryst will be tested that's for sure. Unless somebody comes out of nowhere, I think Sunseri will probably start again.

    1. I'm reaching for the bottle right now.

    2. Save me a swig, TX Panther.

      Just thinking about another season of misery watching Cirq du Sunseri makes my left eye twitch, like "former Chief Inspector Dreyfus" in those old Pink Panther movies...

  15. One last question for ya doke.. Is Rippy going to play safety at Pitt? I've heard a few rumors that he will. Which I see working, because he has the speed to do so. So were pretty much just switching bam for rippy in positions correct?

  16. They're listing both as safeties. My guess is that Rippy will stay at safety and they told Bam he could start there, too, before they eventually move him to linebacker. Rippy is much more athletic and rangy than Bradley and I think he could make an excellent safety.

  17. What happened with Tyrique Jarrett?

  18. Rumors are that he doesn't have the grades to qualify this year.. and yes doke, thats what i've heard also, just that bam would get moved eventually because hes not fast enough to stay at hell of a hitter though if you ask me

  19. Jarrett has to go to prep school. Expected to be back next year, at this time.

    You don't get a name like Bam for nothing.

  20. Is his brother any good? I know that's why bam came but I haven't really heard much about big brother nick

  21. He has a lot of potential. He had offers from schools like Michigan and Missouri. He redshirted this year.

  22. Bam = Ramone Walker?

  23. Chris, how hard has pitt been recruiting the likes of foster and kugler thus far?

  24. I think Coach Chryst and his team did a good job with recruiting, everything considered. They lost a few and gained a few. As Chris has said, next year will be a better barometer on how good they'll be at recruiting.

  25. Most schools haven't been able to recruit the '13 class because they are busy with the '12 class. Ohio State got a jump on Foster for the '13 class but I'm sure Pitt will spend an awful lot of time with both Foster and Kugler. I just don't want Foster to get comfortable with Ohio State. I want them to never get a strong foothold with him because then it will be tougher for Pitt.

  26. I get the impression that Chryst and Co. will play well recruiting in the midwest where honesty, hard work, and teaching ability are well received by kids and their families. However, around NY / NJ and Fla, he may not be as effective as they are more about big promises and fast talking.
    This may be conterproductive long term given how fertile these other areas are with players with speed and skill.
    Do you think I'm reading too much into a small sample size like this year's class?
    Also, I wonder if Caprara long term turns out to be a McKillop type LB who is instictually able to read keys and anticipate plays to overcome his physical tools.

    1. I bet the 4 or 5 kids that had their scholorships pulled late by Chryst would disagree with the honesty part of your praise. Yes they weren't his recruits, and he had the right to drop them, but he waited as late as Sunday night for one, leaving him almost no chance to find another school. That was just wrong.

  27. The more I watch Caprara the less I worry about him. I don't know if he'll be a star but he's definitely going to help the team.

  28. Very happy and excited with Chryst, but a little concerned with his recruiting acumen. Even though I felt he did an adequate job with the 12 class, we still have a gaping need for OL and DL. My concern is that he's not aggresive with recruiting and there have been quotes as to him say that he doesn't like to recruit. There are many top prospects in the 13 class that have been offered ships by many other schools but not Pitt. Very concerned about this, can you give us any insight to Chryst's recruiting philosophy.