Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where Pitt stands in recruiting (and where they need to go)

Time to look to see where Paul Chryst and his staff stands right now in the 2013 recruiting class, and what he still has to do to make the class a success.

Quarterback:  There are no quarterbacks on the roster currently, or any of the known quarterbacks of the future, who are the type who is almost guaranteed to put the program on their back and bring it to new heights.  But at the same time, Tom Savage, Chad Voytik, Tra'von Chapman, and perhaps Chandler Kincade all at least have the potential to reach that level if their best case scenario is reached.  This year Chryst added Chapman, a strong armed athlete from Ohio.  He's not the Ohio quarterback that Chryst wanted the most.  That would be Malik Zaire.  But Chapman is not far behind at this stage and has the potential to be just as good if not better in college.  Were the needs met for this position? Yes.

Running backs:  Isaac Bennett is only a sophomore and Malcolm Crockett is a redshirt freshman.  This year's incoming running back star is Rushell Shell.  All will be around for awhile.  At fullback, Mark Giubilato and David Durham will be back for multiple years, too.  But with Chryst's offense, running backs are at a premium so he went out and got strong running halfback Corey Clement and tough Gateway fullback Jaymar Parrish.  Were the needs met for this position?  Yes.

Wide receivers:  This is a position in flux.  Dave Wannstedt preferred big receivers and Todd Graham preferred fast, small receivers.  The result is a mismatched bunch with an identity problem.  The best chance of the current group to be a star is junior Devin Street but I can see a strong possibility of him going to the NFL after this season.  With Michael Shanahan and Cameron Saddler also moving on, this group is weakened even more in the near future.  While there are some receivers with potential none have proven themselves yet.  The program will not be a strong until they get a strong quarterback and it's going to be hard to have a strong quarterback with suspect receivers.  That's why the staff needs to add quality talent at the position.  Zach Challingsworth has committed in this class, and even though he's a bit of a sleeper, much more is needed.  Were the needs met for this position?  No.

Tight ends:  Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph loves to utilize tight ends and that doesn't look like a problem in the present or the future.  True freshman J.P. Holtz is already showing signs that he'll be an excellent player and Brendan Carozzoni and Drew Carswell will also be around for two more years after this season.  The 2013 class also adds Tony Harper and Scott Orndoff.  Orndoff has great potential.  Were the needs met for the position?  Yes.  

Offensive line:  Entering the season the depth was not good.  Now it's even worse.  There needs to be a lot needed at the position, both in numbers and talent.  Only two, Carson Baker and Aaron Reese, have been added for the 2013 class and while both may turn out to be good players in the future, it's not nearly enough at this time.  Were the needs met for the position?  No. 

Defensive line:  Like the offensive line, the defensive line needs a lot of help in talent and numbers.  Two incoming freshmen, Daryl Render and Terrell Jackson, could be forced to see time even though both should be redshirted.  At defensive tackle, only Tyrique Jarrett, a giant City League kid who is prepping in New York this year, has been added.  At defensive end, underrated Shakir Soto has been added, as has Michigan native Luke Maclean, and promising James Conner.  However, Conner is still looking around despite his commitment, and his eligibility is suspect.  Another tackle or two is needed and none are elite prospects.  Were the needs met for the position?  No.

Linebackers:  Ten linebackers will be back next year so the numbers will eventually get better, but of those ten, none have the look of a big time player.  I'm not saying none will end up being all-star caliber, and in fact I assume one or two will, but the talent level definitely needs an upgrade.  A big time national level linebacker recruit has been missing from the program for years and so far only Matt Galambos has been added.  Like the rest of the unit, he has the potential to be a good player, but that big time star recruit at the position is still missing.  Were the needs met for the position?  No.

Defensive backs:  There's a lot of talent and depth at the position, and in fact it's the best unit on the team.  But you can never have enough defensive backs, especially cornerbacks.  With so many holes to fill, I can see the staff not taking the normal three or more defensive backs, but only one lesser recruited one has been added so far and that's less than ideal.  Were the needs met for the position?  No.

Kickers:  A kicker, Chris Blewitt, and a punter, Ryan Winslow, were added.  Enough said.  Were the needs met for the position?  Yes.

The bottom line, up to this point, is that the staff has added some quality, hard nosed players, who are also good people.  These are the types you can win with as long as you pair them with elite players.  All of the verbal commitments thus far are worthy high major players, even if they don't all project to be stars.  You need stars, yes, but any program, even the elite ones, have the kinds of players who hold down the bottom end while the stars are being stars.  Chryst is building the bedrock of his program.  Now he needs the stars to stand on that bedrock.  

How does Pitt improve on that for the 2013 class?  I'll mention the same two names that I've mentioned all year- Robert Foster and Dorian Johnson.  With just those two players, every position on offense will be improved through recruiting this year.  Chapman, Clement, and Orndoff are not elite prospects at most places, but with Chryst they are because they are the perfect fit for what he does so well.  But Foster and Johnson are the types of prospects that will immediately turn two weak units into two strong units.  They will also send word to the WPIAL, and the nation, that Pitt is a team to be reckoned with in the future.  

Then there is the defense.  I don't really see a chance of a big time prospect being added this year that will make a significant difference in the near future of the program, so adding some numbers to the position may be the best the program can do this season.  But that's okay as long as in the 2014 recruiting class Pitt does step it up with more program changing players.  Every position can't be fortified all at once.  There are too many holes in the program- nothing major, but there are too few star players and too few players overall.


  1. WLAT and the big beat!August 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    This program has not moved forward since Walt was run out of town by Jeff Long and Jeff proudly introduced Wanny as the man to take Pitt to the next level.

    Jeff is long gone and I have been waiting to go back to a BCS Bowl game since we lost to Utah on January 1st 2005.

    I am not saying Chryst can't take them to that next elusive level but you have to admit the drama is just starting.

    Step one is to have a competitive year and win at least 8 games, if they win, they will get a longer look from the better players and it comes down to how the entire coaching staff can sell the program.

    1. I honestly think they have the right guy this time in PC. Walt was great for landing skill position kids but virtually ignored lineman recruits, and it caught up with him. Walt was also universally hated by WPIAL coaches with the exception of Novak in Woodland Hills and Palko at WA. That was his undoing.

      Wanny was everyone's buddy as far as recruiting locally and quite honestly if he were still here the question wouldn't be if kids like Foster and Johnson come to Ptt, just when. Wanny's problems were that he didn't understand the college game of today and made game day decisions as if he were still coaching in the NFL. That, along with not having much control over his players and allowing the university to be embarrassed with the programs arrest record were his undoing.

      As for Graham, there's not much you can say about him other than he came across as disingenuous and was prone to throwing his players under the bus. He was pretty much hated by the time he left.

      PC has approaced this job in the right way, and while his recruiting isn't making fans and alumni thrilled at the moment, I have more confidence in him than any of the past three. I'm not projecting any return to glory with him (as we heard with the last three), I think that needs to be put aside until the program actually shows they're capable of that again.

      Mike W.

  2. I heard we are on the short list for Justin Moody and possibly Antoine Miles or some other JC recruit. Moody and A Jarrett is a strong middle.

    As for corners Jaleel Mcytre Pitt is in his top 5. Don't know about safeties.

    Linebackers I'm not so sure about unless we get a few surprises like AL-Benton commits (he had PSU on his top). I still think Maclean, Conner, and Galambos will be better served as LB's. All of their attributes scream LB to me; 6'3ish, all have decent speed, and some tackling skill. But I'm not the coach.

    OL- Who's still out there anyone know besides Johnson. Jaryd Jones? Xzavier McAllister? Alexander Officer? No idea how those recruitment's are going.

    WR- We might be in trouble there.

    Great piece Chris.

  3. Nice analysis.

    Galambos looks like a player. Interesting that he was taken right from the backyard of Temple and Rutgers.

    Right now Chryst and Co. are selling air. Once they put their product on the field and start winning some football games EVERYTHING CHANGES!

    You get the sense that the practices these coaches have organized are nothing like the amateur hour carnival act of a year ago.


  4. im going to assume pitt will sign a full class of 25, so they have 9 spots left. for those remaining 9 spots id like:

    OL: 3 more, johnson, jaryd jones-smith, marquis wallace
    DL: 1/2 more, justin moody and possibly juco edwin delva
    DB: 2 more, jeleel hytchye and james julius (pitts in julius' top 3)
    WR: 1 more, robert foster
    LB: 1 more, al-rasheed benton

  5. I've said before...
    If Chryst can land Johnson and either Foster or Boyd...
    that would be a good day at the office.
    chryst has a do-over with Johnson..
    why he hasn't committed to Pitt when he was down to Pitt and PSU is beyond me.. so I have my doubts as to whether Johnson is coming to Pitt... as for Foster or Boyd... I doubt either are coming to Pitt unfortunately... why, they don't want to come to a team/class full of 2-star players.

    1. Which class you referring to? Certainly not Pitt's 2012 class. They have 1 maybe to 2 two star recruits that are universally considered that by recruiting sites. The class currently ranks in the 36-39 ranking range right now according to the experts. Sorry you weren't asked to contribute in their assessment. Your statement about being full of 2 star recruits is wrong. Everyone knows it except you.

  6. Thanks for the update Chris. Here in Chicago we do not get much news on the recruiting front. Seems we need some ol/dl in the final 9 recruits. Would love to see Johnson/Foster would help raise this 2013 class up alot.

  7. Chris this was a good analysis and I happen to agree that Coach Chryst is laying the ground work for something bigger and better. Been saying this all along that he only needs time.

    Steve P or the next AD better extend him too.....

  8. Chris,

    Hear, hear!

    Solid, well balanced analysis and I really think you really summed it up nicely with your last three paragraphs.

  9. Chris,

    A very logical approach and reasoned analysis...I LOVE IT!

    Nice work,

  10. Chris; Appreciate the insight. I'm curious what your thoughts are on the talent level at Pitt (current and incoming) versus the talent level Chryst had to work with at Wisconsin...Basically, can he win with the talent level we have now and in the short term, at a level that approaches Wisconsin's success? And if so will that success enable Chryst to land more 4 and 5 star recruits in year 2 and 3 of the Chryst reginme, despite perhaps a more laid back recruiting style?

  11. Chris -

    Would you be willing to build on this wonderful analysis with best-case and most-likely scenarios for the positions where needs have yet to be met?

    1. That would be great...
      Analysis of the 2-3 top players that have offers by position of need and what the chances are of Pitt landing them..
      We all know about Johnson, Boyd and Foster...
      But what DL? other OL, etc.

  12. Chris why don't we have any impact def recruits on our radar? I know PC is offensive coach but he has to realize the defense needs some stars, especially in the front 7. Is there a lack of defensive stars in our recruiting areas?

    1. There are a lot in the northeast. Pitt is not close to any of them right now, but at the end of the recruiting season there's always a chance that they can be involved with a big time defensive player.

    2. What about Justin moody? Or is he not an elite prospect?

    3. He's not an elite prospect. Of course that doesn't mean he won't be an excellent college player.

  13. PC seems to always downplay the performance of Sunseri. It's hard to get a read on his progress. Chyrst usually calls the performance peaks and valleys. Doke you've watched practice does it look like Tino's improving and becoming more consistent. I really was glad to see Bollinger come on board and expected to see him really help Tino. I still think as the quarterback goes, so goes the team. And now with Anderson seeming to have a nagging injury...yikes!

  14. Great write up Chris, I think you have a great point in your last paraghaph. Not all the holes can be filled with one class. PC may have a two year plan. He has been working hard to build the relationships with in the WPIAL and next year western PA is stacked with defensive players. He could have a very good team after his frist two recruiting classes.

  15. Kinicade isn't committed to pitt

  16. BTW,

    According to Joe D's own words, Pitt is putting together a good recruiting class.

    They are currently ranked #34 by rivals. He has stated in the past
    under 25 great
    25-40 good

    So I don't know why he's complaining. It's a good class so far according to him

    1. You had to rile him up again? Rant now impending...

    2. INCOMING! *ducks and covers*

    3. Yes... if Pitt remains at that... I consider it a "good" class...
      but it's not good enough!!
      Reason being the past 3 years...
      2010 - 33
      2011 - 58
      2012 - 47

      there is lack of elite/good talent at many positions or lack of depth... per Chris analysis above.
      So, 2013, Pitt needs a top 25 class to be competitive in the ACC.

    4. Yeah We've some turmoil over that time period. But your right if Pitt wants to compete right away with Va tech, FSU, and Clemson we are going to need to recruit the studs of the WPIAL year in and year out. However, I do not think PC needs to recruit out of his mind to be consistently in the 8-4 range. But who wants that. I also want to commend Joe D your above comment is accurate, positive, with also a sense of reprehension. Its perfect.

  17. If, as they say, the game is won and lost in the trenches then by all accounts it's gonna be a long Panther football season.

    1. on the offensive end. on the defensive end theyll be good unless there are injuries. and, lets face it, pitts ol isnt going to face a dl as talented as the one theyre seeing in camp other than va tech and maybe notre dame

  18. If they jump up 2 more spots, he will have done better than any of the 5 previous head coaches over the last 3 years...better than Wanny after a 10 win season...but there is still PLENTY of time.

    NLI day is only SIX months away. LOL

    Not drinking the kool-aid as Joe D likes to say. But willing to be patient until then.

    As far as the big 3 that are left in the area:
    The way I see it is:

    I think they get Foster, Johnson is figuring out a way NOT to go to Pitt, and they never had a chance with Boyd. I think Boyd is thinking too much about the famous schools instead of the ones where he'll fit and play right away

    1. Dorian Johnson is the one that makes no sense to me. He says he wants a safe campus and Oakland didn't cut it for him. But Va tech which had that school shooting, Pitt and its bomb threats, PSU with its sex molestation case, riots, and its notoriety of players getting arrested, and to round of the list OSU with its sanctions.
      DE Antoine Miles
      OL Xzavier McCallister
      and CB Jaleel Hytchye
      All have pitt in their top 3. I think they are all 3 stars.

    2. Pitt has been in his final two even prior to the PSU commit, so if he thought Oakland was unsafe, he wouldn't have considered it. Of course, I've never seen him quoted as saying anything of the sorts so I think it's pretty questionable that any of that is true.

  19. i believe pitt only has 4 more spots in this class, but i could be wrong. cb james julius also has pitt in his top 3 with cincy and iowa state.

    as for rankings, if pitt gets foster and johnson itll be a top 30 class at worst

    1. They should have more then four. They should be able to go up to 25 (which is a full class).

  20. Anyone know the status of anthony gonzalez? If I recall correctly, he was moved to safety in the middle of the spring, in which case, given the depth at that position, I would only expect to see him on special teams this year. Thought he showed some athletic ability out of the wildcat and at TE last season. Would imagine that all of the position changes have slowed his development, but hope that by the end of his career he can find a spot and have an impact. I think he was a 4* athlete coming out of high school.

    1. hes only a sophomore so he should compete for time next year after a year to learn the position.

  21. Were there any Pitt coaches at the CV v BV scrimmage??
    Quips beat Blackhawk in scrimmage from what I hear...
    A single A team (by size) playing a pretty good AAA team/coach. Quips reload again!

  22. Question Chris,
    I just saw Rivals top 100 list (revised list)...
    Foster is ranked #70 and 8th best WR..
    He was ranked (I believe) around 25 and 3rd or 4th best reciever.

    Also, Anzalone #1 player out of PA... then Breneman... then Foster.

    So, what cause Foster to drop so much?? Is it because he doesn't do many camps or 7v7, etc?? What are the dynamics that cause the up or down of players since the HS football season didn't start yet. Nothing really changed since the spring except combines, camps and 7v7.

    1. I wouldn't put too much stock in those ratings. Foster is the best player in the state and anybody with a brain knows that. A lot of it is politics and a lot of it is ineptitude.

    2. 247 sports just updated there best players in PA. Foster is 1 David Williams 2 Dorian Johnson 3
      other notables
      Boyd 6
      Brennan 7
      Anzalone 8

      Apparently David Williams still has Pitt in his top schools (don't see him coming here though).
      Anyone who doesn't follow PITT on 247 sports I highly recommend it. Rivals has slipped in my mind not Chris Peak but the whole institution.

    3. Also a bunch of Pitt recruits and potential pitt recruits on that list.
      Soto 12
      Orndoff 16
      Reese 24
      Galambos 26
      Challingsworth 28

      are on that list besides the top 3 are all heavily considering Pitt.

  23. You people get so enamored with stars. Keep in mind Robert Griffin and Ryan Tannehill each entered their respective schools as 3 stars. Give me a break.

    On a side note, I believe it's imperative to land the top WPIAL players.You've got to be able to recruit well in your own back yard.