Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Where the Panthers stand in recruiting, position by position (Defense)

The Panthers defense does not need the tweaking that the offense needs.  The unit has been at least solid for a few years now and there is young talent, especially in the secondary.  For that reason I suspect that the defense will have less commitments for this class when all is said and done, but that doesn't mean that both impact players and depth aren't needed.

Defensive Line:  It begins with All-American candidate Aaron Donald whose lack of size will probably keep him from leaving after this season.  T.J. Clemmings, Tyrone Ezell, Khaynin Mosely-Smith, Bryan Murphy, and LaQuentin Smith are also back for multiple years, though the defense will probably best be served if Smith could eventually return to linebacker.  Terrell Jackson and Daryl Render are arriving on the scene this fall and 2013 verbal commitment Shakir Soto will be joining next season meaning the Panthers have at least nine promising young linemen on the roster right now.

But that is not enough for the staff, who will be changing to a 4-3 and has been offering many defensive linemen over the past few months.  Most of the best ones appear to be heading elsewhere or aren't seriously considering the Panthers, but there are still some good ones out there, including two junior college players.

New Jersey native Aaron Hush plays in Brooklyn now, and at 6'4" and 280 pounds he has the size for tackle, but also has good enough speed and explosiveness to play end.  He previously had a stint at prep school and signed with Temple but eventually ended up back in the junior college ranks. But don't be fooled by his past.  His grades are what kept him from being recruited by bigger schools and now he has offers from Penn State, NC State, Vanderbilt, and UConn.  He has gained 60 good pounds since high school and at 280 pounds he runs a 4.85 and has a 36" vertical.

Just as impressive is Edwin Delva, a Miami native who is currently playing at a California junior college.  At 6'3" and 295 pounds he is a big time talent with offers from Kansas State, Oregon State, and Purdue, but he's also being monitored closely by the likes of Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Some developmental linemen that the staff has a chance to land include 6'3" 265 Justin Moody (Philadelphia), 6'4" 260 pound Eric Joraskie (Mt. Carmel, PA), 6'3" 250 pound Antonio Miles (Canton, OH), and 6'4" 245 pound Luke Maclean (Grand Blanc, MI).

Linebacker:  The Panthers have had good defenses recently but the linebacker corps have been a weakness.  When the Panthers defense failed it was more often than not because the linebackers were exposed.  While there are some promising young players at the position a major influx of talent and depth is needed.

Dan Mason, Shane Gordon, Eric Williams, Nicholas Grigsby, Todd Thomas, and Juan Price all have at least two years remaining, and Mike Caprara and Devon Porchia will be freshmen this fall.  There is some potential there, but like I said, that's not going to be enough.

Chryst hasn't started off well at the position with top targets Ben Gedeon (Ohio State), Dorian O'Daniel (Clemson), Alex Anzalone (Ohio State), Shane Jones (Michigan State), Courtney Love (Nebraska), and Ryne Rankin (Georgia) already choosing other schools.

Two in-state players are leaning elsewhere, too.  Harrisburg's Zayd Issah is probably heading to Penn State and McKeesport's Hodari Christian is favoring West Virginia.

Big Ohio prospect Darrien Howard (6'2" 250) could be a possibility but other than it looks like the staff is going to have to unearth some hidden gems.

Defensive backs:  If it's one position that the Panthers should be good both now and in the immediate future it's the secondary.

Only safeties Andrew Taglianetti and Jarred Holley will be gone after this season and an influx of talent in the next two years is a welcome sight.

Star cornerback K'waun Williams still has two years to play, as does safety Jason Hendricks.  Promising sophomores Cullen Christian, Lloyd Carrington, and Ray Vinopal have three years remaining, and the freshmen and redshirt freshmen include Lafayette Pitts, Roderick Ryles, Bam Bradley, Deaysean Rippy, Jahmahl Parder, and Ryan Lewis.

You can never have enough defensive backs, however, especially since LaQuentin Smith and Bradley may eventually end up at linebacker, and the staff has correctly thrown a lot of offers out there to strengthen the position even more.

Clairton's Titus Howard was just offered and with Pitt's history with Clairton players I wouldn't be surprised if he committed to the Panthers, especially since he is not expected to get many, if any, other major offers.

After that it's anybody's guess, but the chances are they will come from Ohio (6'0" 170 Darian Hicks, 6'1" 175 pound Reon Dawson, 5'9" 180 pound Billy Aaron, 6'0" 175 pound Solomon Warfield,  6'3" 200 pound Marcus Ball, 6'0"190 pound Godwin Igwebuike), New Jersey (6'3" 185 Kyle Queiro), or Florida (6'1" 205 pound Paris Bostick).


  1. The DL is a big concern... bigger concern than the OL..
    Especially since going back to 4-3. Taking a LB and converting that athlete to DE is not the way to go in my opinion as that makes for an undersized DE.

    1. it depends on the player. some lb's end up making terrific pass rushing ends as it puts more speed on the field but some are too small, like you said. I was surprised by this move because smith could've been a great MLB.

    2. Unfortunately, they need bodies on the DL...
      According to rivals, not including incoming frosh, 9 players are assigned DL.. LB's have 12.
      but many were LB's or other positions before..
      Cook at 230# came in as a TE.
      Hale at 255# came in as a LB.
      Lippert at 265# came in as a LB.
      Murphy at 250# was LB.
      Smith at 225# was LB.
      Better hope the starting 4 doesn't get hurt.

    3. D-Line doesn't have depth for 2012... it has bodies as listed above.
      If going to a 4-3 defense... they need 12 players rostered for the D-Line minimum. They only have 9 for which they had to recruit a few bodies (former LB's).

  2. Chris - recruiting aside for a moment, do you have a gut feel for how quickly the D reverts back to the 4-3...I'm thinking they need to get off to a fast start while the O gels.

    Or said another way, which side of the ball do you expect to be the Panther's strength come September?

    1. The defense should definitely be better than the offense this year but this is Paul Chryst we are talking about so you never know.

  3. BTW - thanks for the analysis of the recruits... this makes for good reading!

  4. The D-line will be in a much better place come Pitt's first year in the ACC in 2013.

    Murphy, Smith, Donald, Clemmings
    Smith, Ezell, Lippert, Smith
    Render, Jackson, Jarrett

    All will be in uniform with the hopeful addition of Aaron Hush and three other kids who'll be redshirting.

    1. I forgot to mention Jarrett. He has good potential, too.

  5. Dokie, it looks like we need to recruit a kicker, Harper will be a senior and there is seemingly no one else?

  6. Alex Anzalone has decommited to Ohio State.