Monday, December 31, 2012

Cincinnati 70 Pittsburgh 61

1.  We are starting to find the level of Pitt basketball this season and may not be much more than mediocre.  After leading by 8 at the half, the Panthers were outscored 44-27 in the second half.  The lack of a go to scorer was never more obvious.

2.  Talib Zanna led Pitt with 16 points and pitched in with 5 rebounds, but despite those numbers I wouldn't really call him a major factor.  And he had trouble holding on to balls all day.

3.  Lamar Patterson had 13 points, thanks to 5-5 from the line, but he was also 4-12 from the field and 0-5 from the line.  He looked afraid to shoot many open shots and it's becoming a real problem.  He did his usual stat stuffing with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and a block, but he was not effective.

4.  Steven Adams played against two good teams in Michigan and Cincinnati and didn't score against either.  At least he had 9 rebounds in this game and has averaged 9.2 rebounds over his last 6 games, but he seems way too overpowered, which shouldn't be happening.

5.  Trey Woodall is never going to be the top player that many Pitt fans wanted.  It's just not going to happen.  In this game he was mostly nonexistent and came away with 9 points, though he was just 3-9 from the field and 0-3 from three.  He also had 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

6.  James Robinson was forced to do way too much, both from Jamie Dixon and from the Panthers veterans who decided to stand around.  He ended up with 7 points, 2 assists, a rebound, a block, and a turnover.

7.  Cameron Wright played well with 10 points in 24 minutes.

8.  Trey Zeigler was a disaster with 3 turnovers in just 9 minutes.

9.  The Panthers shot 44.2% from the field, 0-10 from three, and 60% from the line.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Malcolm Gilbert transferring

Pitt's 7'0" sophomore center Malcolm Gilbert is transferring to Fairfield so that he can play with his brother.  Gilbert is the second Panther to transfer during the season.  Sophomore guard John Johnson transferred to Penn State a few games into the season.  J.J. Richardson, Khem Birch, and Isaiah Epps have also transferred from the program in the last two years.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Early look at top PA prospects for 2014, 2015, and 2016


Joe Cosentino, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)-  Transferred from Kiski Area after his sophomore season and didn't put up huge numbers as a junior, but he is impressive in camp and combine settings thanks to his 6'4" 225 pound size, good athleticism, and strong arm.  If he has a big senior season, he will get major offers, but on his measureables alone, he could get offers before the season starts.

Andrew Ford, Cedar Cliff HS (Camp Hill)-  The crafty lefty needs to add some weight to his 6'3" 190 pound frame, but he is athletic, can take off and run, has a good, accurate arm, and a great temperament to be a leader at the position.  His star receiver, elite tight Adam Breneman, who is headed to Penn State, was out for the entire season, but that did not stop Ford from putting up huge numbers again.

Right now Pitt, Penn State, UConn, Virginia, Northwestern, and Maryland are showing the most interest, and while he doesn't have any offers yet, it should just be a matter of time.  He is being recruited by Bobby Engram for the Panthers.

Ryan Gumbita, Mt. Pleasant Area HS (Mt. Pleasant)- It's not too often that there is a legit D-1 player out of Mt. Pleasant, but Gumbita is 6'4" 210 with a good arm.  He also is a good basketball player and does the long jump and triple jump in track. He has unofficially visited Pitt and Maryland thus far.

Chandler Kincade, Blackhawk HS (Beaver Falls)-  Committed to Pitt when Todd Graham was the head coach, and has reaffirmed that commitment under Paul Chryst.  In fact, he is much more suited for Chryst's offense.  Despite some rumors, I would be shocked if he didn't end up signing with the Panthers.

Great size already at 6'5" and 220 pounds, and he has the frame to get even stronger.  When he does age his arm will get stronger, too, though he has a good arm already.  Not a dual threat QB, but he is mobile in the pocket.  Good kid and a born leader.

His team hasn't been great in his career, so it's been hard for him to put up huge numbers.  The quarterbacks who develop into elite prospects usually do it in the offseason before his junior and senior season, so it will be interesting to see how he develops over the spring and summer.

(2015) Brett Brumbaugh, South Fayette HS (McDonald)- The next big time WPIAL quarterback?  That's definitely possible. He has to fill out but he's just 16 years old this season so that should not be a problem. At 6'3" and 180 pounds he lit up the WPIAL as a sophomore and his strong arm should get even stronger as he matures.  His top target, Zach Challingsworth, is on his way to Pitt this year.

(2015) Andrew Koester, West Allegheny HS (Imperial)- He hasn't put up big numbers yet but he's already 6'4" and 185 pounds and he led the Indians to the WPIAL AAA championship as a sophomore.  He's very athletic and started for the basketball team as a freshman.  Legendary head coach Bob Palko is bringing him along slowly but look for him to become a star in the next two years.

(2016)  Levi Metheny, Bethel Park HS (Bethel Park)- A Tyler Palko clone, the crafty lefty (is there any other kind?), even plays for his father, Jeff, who is the head coach.  Only 6'0" and 180 pounds right now but he's only in the 9th grade so he has plenty of time to grow.  Very quick runner who can also throw.  He has an extremely bright future.

(2016) Eric Taylor, Imani Christian Academy (Pittsburgh)-  He didn't start at quarterback this year but those who saw him this summer was very impressed with the 6'3" 195 pound freshman.  Should start as a sophomore and has the potential to be a major recruit down the road.

Where Pitt stands:  Kincade has already given the Panthers a verbal commitment and unless Chad Voytik or Travon Chapman blow up this season, I don't see him changing his mind.  It's best to add a quarterback a year and if Brumbaugh and Metheny follow Kincade, then the program won't have quarterback problems for awhile.


Mike Class, Pennridge HS (Perkasie)- At 5'11" and 175 pounds, he needs to gain some size, but he has run a 10.90 100m and ran for over 2,300 yards in Quad A this season. Also has good hands and returns kicks. Kids with this kind of speed and production are guaranteed to have major offers, even if he ends up at a different position.

Robert Martin, Harrisburg HS (Harrisburg)- The school has had much talent over the years, but academics were usually an issue.  If Martin doesn't have that problem, he should get major offers thanks to his 6'0"190 pounds, and top speed and elusiveness.  It's hard to tell how how well he runs through tackles because he usually just blows through the line and is gone before anybody can touch him.  Also an excellent linebacker who could project as a safety at the college level.

Shai McKenzie, Washington HS (Washington)-  A candidate for the top prospect in the state next season.  What isn't there to like about this national recruit?  He's already a rock solid 5'11" and 210 pounds and he has run a 10.83 100m, meaning he has legit 4.4 speed at 210 pounds.  If it's production you want, Shai (pronounced "Shy"), ran for 2,689 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Pitt has offered, as has Rutgers, Purdue, UConn, Duke, Tennessee, and some smaller schools, but the likes of Michigan are starting to sniff around.  He is a huge target for the Panthers, who are recruiting him hard, but he appears to want to leave the area, preferably to the south.

James Oliver, Tyrone HS (Tyrone)-  Not an area where recruiters usually find D-1 talent, but Oliver has good speed with a personal best 11.49 100m, and ran for almost 1,900 yards and 27 touchdowns. Has 5'10" 170 pound size so if he doesn't get bigger he may find himself on defense.

Eli Redmond, Parkland HS (Allentown)-  Yet another small player at 5'6" and 170 pounds, but he is all muscle and has run an 11.14 100m.  Electrifying player if you can find someplace for him in your system.

Jimmy Wheeler, West Mifflin HS (West Mifflin)-  If Wheeler was 6'0" and 200 pounds instead of the 5'8" and 170 pounds that he really is, he would already have major offers.  But with small, fast kids getting offers more commonly now, there's a chance that somebody will find him too good to pass up.  He is helped by the fact that he has run an 11.04 100m.  "Wheels", as he's known to teammates and coaches, ran for over 2,000 yards this season.

(2015) Josh Adams, Central Bucks South HS (Warrington)-  Blew up this year as a sophomore thanks to his game breaking speed and great quickness.  Already a lanky 6'1" and 180 pounds.  Runs hard even though he's not solidly built yet.  Could end up as a national recruit.

(2015) Nas Bonner, Imhotep Charter School (Philadelphia)- The next big thing at Imhotep and in that loaded program that's saying a lot.  Only 5'10" and 180 pounds right now but he's only a sophomore so he'll get bigger.  His speed, quick feet, and vision are all at a very high level already.  A true game breaker.

2015) Andre Robinson, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg)- When you are the top runner at a powerhouse like Bishop McDevitt when you're a freshman than you are a big time player.  Didn't have the huge sophomore season that was expected of him but that's only because he's in a balanced attack.  Solidly built already at 5'10" and 200 pounds, but also has excellent vision and speed.  Will run around a defender or through him. Also has excellent hands and is a great blocker.

(2015) Josh Schultheis, Mars HS (Mars)-  One of the most intriguing players in the state in any class. Already 6'1" and 225 pounds and he's just a sophomore.  He also led a powerful Mars team by running for 1,687 yards.  He's a workout warrior who trains religiously to improve himself. There's even video out there of him out there jumping from a seated position onto a 51" high box.  Could end up as a Toby Gerhart-type or could end up as a linebacker.

(2016) Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh)- When you start as a freshman for one of the  top talent producers in the country, that's impressive.  He's already 5'11" and 165 pounds as a freshman so size in the future won't be a problem.  Also very fast with the ability to go the distance every time he touches the ball.  Will be a big name in recruiting circles in the future.

Where Pitt stands:  McKenzie is obviously the major get here and could be a worthy successor to Rushel Shell, but as it stands now I don't think McKenzie is going to stay local.  Things could always change, though, and he still can't sign for over a year now.  If the Panthers don't land him then they may have to go out of state for the '14 class.  Robinson and Schultheis in '15, and Sanders in '16, will be huge targets.  Adams and Bonner are just as good, but it will be harder to get them since they are on the other side of the state.


Troy Apke, Mt. Lebanon HS (Mt. Lebanon)-  The No.1 wide receiver prospect in the WPIAL next season.  He needs to add weight to his 170 pound frame, but he's a long 6'2", catches everything in sight, runs great routes, and runs in the 4.4s.  He also broke all kinds of school records this season with over 1,000 yards receiving.  His former coach, Chris Haering, is Pitt's current linebackers coach, his father, Steve, was a star linebacker at Pitt, and his mother was a member of the track team at Pitt.  Put it all together and you would hope that the Panthers could land another excellent receiver prospect.

Jaquan Davidson, Elizabeth Forward HS (Elizabeth)- Started his high school career at West Mifflin, then spent a year at McKeesport, before finally settling in at EF.  Plays quarterback now, and has a strong arm, but he's more of an athlete right now, and at 6'4" and 160 pounds he could turn out to be a real sleeper.  Also an excellent basketball player. 

Eddie Edwards, Hampton HS (Allison Park)-  Athletic and smooth with good speed and athleticism at 5'11" and 165 pounds.  Also a good baseball player.  

Delane Hart, Germantown HS (Philadelphia)- Good 6'3" and 180 pounds and great hands, but lack of top end speed may prevent him from major offers.  Broke school record with 778 yards receiving as a junior.

Paryss Marshall, Catasauqua HS (Northampton)-  The son of former UConn basketball star Donyell Marshall, he has good 6'2" 180 pound size and athleticism.  Named all-state this season after a big season on offense and 9 interceptions on defense.  

Sammy Marshall, East Pennsboro HS (Enola)-  The major target of Syracuse quarterback recruit Austin Wilson, Marshall has the 6'4" 185 pound size, and he also has the game breaking speed.  Very good with the ball in his hands and not just a big guy who runs fast in a straight line.  It appears that Pitt is interested and he has expressed legitimate interest in Pitt.  

Ricky Rogers, Gateway HS (Monroeville)- The Keystone Oaks transfer caught just 9 passes in his junior season at Gateway, but he's athletic and solidly built at 6'2" and 190 pounds.  West Virginia and Rutgers offered early, and he already committed to the Mountaineers.

Troy Simon, Imani Christian Academy (Pittsburgh)-  A big sleeper because he plays in a new, small private school. Transferred from Brashear in Pittsburgh's City League.  Has excellent 6'3"180 pound size and good athleticism and speed.  Also returns kicks and punts, and kicks off.  Can also project at safety.

Shafer Swann, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)-  He's got good 6'2" 180 pound size and with Lynn Swann being his father he has the genes.  If Cosentino lives up to his potential next season then Swann could benefit.

K.J. Williams, Liberty HS (Bethlehem)-  A legitimate contender for the best prospect in the state.  He has everything it takes to be an elite college player.  Solidly built at 6'2" and 190 pounds, with excellent hands, speed, and athleticism.  Terrific player that already holds offers from Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, and UConn, but there will be many more.  Same school as current star Pitt receiver Devin Street, as well as Anthony Gonzalez.  Pitt is on him very hard.

(2016) Kobay White, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg)-  This is a school that's always loaded with college level talent so the fact that he's the second leading receiver as a freshman is extremely impressive.  The fact that he's fast, athletic, and already 6'0" and 185 pounds is just as impressive. 

Where Pitt stands:  If Robert Foster stays out of the picture, and Tyler Boyd chooses elsewhere, then the program could have trouble at the position.  If the Panthers can land Boyd then the loss of Foster would not be as devastating because players like Apke, Williams, and Marshall are big time players.  There's really no excuse to lose out on Apke, but Williams and Marshall may be tougher since they're not local, and Williams especially will be a national recruit.  Simon is another player that needs to be watched closely, as is Brandon Mitchell, who I talk about in the "athlete" section.


Luke Carrezola, Neshaminy HS (Langhorne)- Solidly built and athletic at 6'3" and 230 pounds.  Also plays defensive end.  His brother Paul is a tight end at Rutgers.  Pitt was second for Paul and are now recruiting Luke.  Rutgers and Penn State have also shown a lot of interest at this time.

Jamal Custis, Neumann-Goretti HS (Philadelphia)-  He plays at wide receiver now and he may just stay there, but right now he doesn't look fast enough for the position.  At tight end, however, he can add on to his great 6'6" 215 pound frame and show off his athleticism that helps him to also be a legitimate basketball prospect. 

Trey Klock, Lower Dauphin HS (Hummelstown )-  Big, tough strong 6'4" 240 pound kid who plays with a lot of aggressiveness.  Decent speed and athleticism, but his ability to play angry is what makes him stand out. Could also project as a strong side defensive end or could even gain weight and play inside.

Where Pitt stands:  The program isn't in dire need for tight ends since the staff is loading up on them in their first two classes, but a player like Klock could project as a tight end or elsewhere, and he would be a nice addition.


Dontae Angus, Germantown HS (Philadelphia)- Really large at 6'6" and 310 pounds, but he moves extremely well.  On the defensive line, he blows up the line and could project on that side of the ball, too.

Nick Apostolu, Springfield HS (Springfield)- Big 6'5 1/2" 290 pound kid who is athletic enough that he was a competitive swimmer at that size.  Excellent student who has heard from Pitt, among others.

Alex Bookser, Mt. Lebanon HS (Mt. Lebanon)-  Another giant at 6'6" and 295 pounds, and he also has an early Pitt offer.  Pitt's current linebacker coach, Chris Haering, was Bookser's coach at Mt. Lebanon before joining the Panthers this season.  Should be among the best linemen in the east this year.

Tyler Cavenas, Mahanoy HS (Mahanoy City)- Slightly undersized now at 6'4" and 255 pounds, and he could also project on the defensive line.  Good athlete who plays basketball and is excellent at the shot put in track.

Eric Gallo, Council Rock South HS (Holland)- A little smaller than Paul Chryst usually likes but at a rock solid 6'3" and 280 pounds, he is a tough and tenacious guard with good feet.  He's visited Pitt so the Panthers obviously have interest so it may be for center or for defensive tackle, where he also excels. Excellent student.  His brother, P.J., plays for Maryland.

Mike Grimm, Bethel Park HS (Bethel Park)-  Enormous 6'6" 320 pound tackle that looks even bigger than that.  Feet are decent, but it's his brute strength and size that is his calling card.  His mother and father are both fitness professionals.  Already has a Pitt offer and he's a major target for the Panthers since he's exactly the kind of lineman that the staff is looking for.

Travis Krall, Milton HS (Milton)- Solidly built and tough 6'4" 285 pounds with good feet.  Also does shot put and discus in track, and plays basketball.

James McHale, Dunmore HS (Dunmore)-  When a giant lineman dominates a small classification, there is always a worry that it may be just because the lineman has such a size advantage. But the 6'6" 295 pound McHale appears to be the real deal for the Class A state runner ups.  He's a big Penn State fan and he'll be at Pitt's elite junior day on February 2nd.

Taleem Muhammad, Imhotep Charter HS (Philadelphia)-  This high school is loaded with young talent, and at 6'5" 300 pounds Muhammad has very good athleticism to go with that size.

Deion Oliver, Archbishop Wood HS (Warminster)-  The best of an excellent line, in an an excellent program, he is 6'5" 275 and can move.  Looks like an ideal pulling guard because of how well he moves.

Mike Reichwein, Downingtown East (Exton)- Plays tight end now at 6'5" and 245 pounds, but he has a big frame and it's expected that he could eventually end up at tackle.

Luke Ritter, Delaware Valley HS (Milford)- Not the best athlete and has to add a lot of weight, but at 6'7" and 275 pounds, he has a big frame to add size.  His coach is a former Penn State player and he's a big Penn State fan.

Aaron Ruff, Imhotep Charter HS (Philadelphia)- Yet another Imhotep prospect, who at 6'5" and 280 pounds has good feet and athleticism.  

Hunter Steel, Chartiers Valley HS (Bridgeville)- Needs to get bigger than his current 6'4" and 275 pounds, but he moves extremely well. Pitt is interested and if he ever gets to 6'5" and 300 pounds, he would make a nice, mobile guard.

(2015) Michael Burke, Germantown HS (Philadelphia)-  
He's just a sophomore and he's 6'5" and 350 pounds.  Obviously size may be a problem, but in this case it may be because he could get too big.  But Pitt is looking for giant linemen and this kid fits the bill. He can also move well at that size.

(2015) Alex Paulina, Canon McMillan HS (Canonsburg)-  The next great PA lineman?  It's possible.  How good is Paulina? Well, he was all-conference in the highly competitive WPIAL Quad A despite playing on a winless team. That's impressive, but what's even more impressive is that he did it as a 6'3" 250 pound freshman, and he missed almost four full games at the end of the season after tearing his MCL. He's now 6'4" and 295 pounds, and his quickness is so impressive that he plays lacrosse for the school. Could also project as a defensive tackle. Schools like Ohio State and Virginia Tech were already inquiring about him after his freshman season.

(2015) Tony Pilato, Hempfield Area HS (Greensburg)-  Already 6'7" and 295 pounds as a sophomore, and he moves well enough to also be a very good basketball player.  Should be a high major target, especially for Pitt who craves that kind of size.

Where Pitt stands:  Grimm and Bookser are huge targets for the Panthers in more reasons than one.  Both are the giant, talented linemen than Chryst and his staff craves.  Steel could be somebody who can be very good down the road if he can get bigger.  The rest are talented, but outside the area, so it's hard to say which one or two will want to be Panthers at this stage.  The two local '15 prospects, Paulina and Pilato will be must gets.  Bottom line, if Pitt can get Grimm, Bookser, Paulina, and Pilato all locally then the future of the line is extremely bright, and the staff would have done it on a single tank of gas.


Tyrone Barge, Imhotep Institue Charter School (Philadelphia)- Undersized at 6'1" and 260 pounds, but he is quick as a cat.  His explosion at the snap is impressive and his aggressive style of play makes him stand out even on a loaded team. Also is excellent at guard and is the only two way player on the team. 

Noah Beh, Scranton Prep (Scranton)- Has a chance to be one of the highest rated players in the state thanks to his excellent 6'6" 245 pound size and very good athleticism.  Kids with his size and athleticism are obviously highly coveted at defensive end, but he may also get looks at offensive tackle.

Brock Boxen, Beaver Falls Area HS (Beaver Falls)-  At 6'3" and 260 pounds he has enough speed and athleticism to play at end, but he also has the ability to add weight and play on the inside.  Tenacious and quick.  Already holds a Pitt offer and really likes the Panthers.

Jaleel Fields, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  Excellent two player for one of the most talented teams in the country. Vicious blocker on offense but at 6'2" and 270 pounds he is a little undersized for the offensive line. But that's okay because he could be a beast on the defensive line, either inside or outside. No reason I can think of why he doesn't already have major offers, and he's also an excellent student. If Pitt offers, which you have to assume they will, the Panthers have to be considered the favorite.

Joey Hobbs, Mechanicsburg HS (Mechanicsburg)- Already excellent defensive end size at 6'4" and 245 pounds.  Great wingspan.  Also a very good offensive lineman and he has the frame to eventually grow into that position too.

Curtis Matsko, Philipsburg-Osceola HS (Philipsburg)- Undersized right now at 6'2" and 225 pounds, but he's a good football player who has already visited Penn State twice.

Adam Mihoci, Franklin Regional (Murrysville)- Believe it or not at 6'1" and 284 pounds, not only was this young man all-conference on the defensive line, he was also all-conference at tight end.  He's a little short, but when you combine bull strength with the ability to move like he does, then you're going to get some colleges looking at you.

Connor Morehart, Governor Mifflin HS (Shillington)- One of the better defensive linemen in the state thanks to his 6'4" 270 pound size and good athleticism.  Good pass rusher and also excels on the offensive line.  Rutgers has already offered and Pitt has expressed interest.

Brenon Thrift, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  The Steel Valley transfer is one of two Gators who are contenders for the top five prospects in PA for the 2014 class. Already has an NFL physique at a muscular 6'3" and 245 pounds.  Some schools may look at him as a middle linebacker, though he's in danger of outgrowing that position.  Already has offers from Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Michigan.

Rick Young, Souderton Area HS (Souderton)- He's good on the offensive line, but this young man was born to be a nose tackle.  Not only is he already 6'2" and 300 pounds, but he is also quick, tenacious, and strong.  A big Penn State fan but Pitt is among those who are interested in him.

Hez Trehan, Roman Catholic HS (Philadelphia)-  A beast off the corner at 6'4" and 235 pounds. Very athletic and plays basketball, too.

Where Pitt stands:  Boxen and Fields would both be excellent additions, even though for some reason Fields doesn't have a Pitt offer yet.  I can see both adding size and being quick, athletic defensive tackles for the Panthers, but both are also athletic enough to be ends in a 4-3.  Barge and Young are two of my favorites from outside of the area.  Barge is a smaller, explosive type in the Aaron Donald mold, whereas Young is a big, mobile nose guard that could do wonders for the Panthers defense.  Thrift is a national recruit that the Panthers would love, but right now I see him going elsewhere.


Dorian Arthur, Neshaminy HS (Langhorne)- Missed the second half of the season because of a concussion, so he may be a bit under the radar, but he runs track and is already a solid 6'3" and 210 pounds. 

Tyler Burke, Coatesville HS (Coatesville)-  One of the top prospects in the state thanks to his legit 6'4" 240 pound size, good quickness, and tenacity.  Projects just as well at tight end. Already holds offers from Maryland, NC State, and Temple, and Pitt is one of the schools who recently stopped in to his school to see him.

Donovan Cobb, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  Very good tight end for the powerful Quips but at 6'1" and 210 pounds, he's too small for that position.  His brother, Ashton, plays at Kentucky.

Allan Cratsenberg, Highlands HS (Natrona Heights)- Typical western PA star linebacker in the mold of Paul Posluszny and Sean Lee.  At 6'3" and 220 pounds, he is very athletic and flies around the field.  Runs track, does the shot put, wrestles, and plays basketball.  Very high ceiling.

Zaire Franklin, LaSalle College HS (Philadelphia)- Should be among the highest ranked prospects in the state when all is said and done.  At 6'2" and 220 pounds, he hits like a runaway train and runs extremely well.  He is just as good in pass defense as he against the run.  Big time player that Pitt has already talked to.

Christian Lezzer, Clearfield HS (Clearfield)- Talented 6'1" 215 pounder who moves very well and plays hard.  Very versatile and plays many positions, but projects best at linebacker or maybe even safety.  

Denny Lord, Neshaminy HS (Langhorne)- One of three Neshaminy kids who have a chance to be high major players, Lord is a do everything type who is a solid 6'1" and 210 pounds.  

Justice Rawlins, Monessen HS (Monessen)-  His brother, Chavas, is off to play at West Virginia next season and Justice already has offers from Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Akron.  Solidly built at 6'1" and 220 pounds.  Has improved a lot as his junior season went on.

Zaihe Regus, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  Talented player with quickness and toughness, but at 5'10" and 210 pounds, size may make many schools shy away.  

Nate Stone, Greensburg Central Catholic HS (Greensburg)- A heat seeking ball of muscle on the field. Aggressive and quick.  Listed at 6'0" and 220 pounds, and it may come down to just how tall he really is. If he ends up being under 6'0" tall, then obviously many top programs will shy away from him. Also a great student.

Chase Winovich, Thomas Jefferson HS (Jefferson Hills)-  One of my personal picks for a player who is really going to blow up over the next year.  The former safety moved to middle linebacker this season and turned into a holy terror.  Only 6'4" and 200 pounds right now, but he looks to be running twice as fast as everybody on the field.  When he he gains weight over the next year or two he could be something else.

(2015) Jake Cooper, Archbishop Wood HS (Warminster)- As a sophomore he was one of the best players for the AAA state runner up.  Though he played on the defensive line this season, his future is at middle linebacker.  Right now he's at 6'2" and 230 pounds, and built like a rock.  Also an excellent wrestler.

(2015) Kevin Givens, Altoona Area HS (Altoona)- Very talented athlete who already is a solid 6'2" and 225 pounds. Very good straight line speed and a good tackler who explodes into the backfield. With two years of high school to play and his lean frame he could eventually turn into a pass rushing defensive end prospect. Very high ceiling player who could get recruited nationally.

Where Pitt stands:  The Panthers still need linebacker depth and talent, and it would be nice to add Cratsenberg and Winovich, two locals who will probably be "3-star" players, who have the potential to be much better than that.  Rawlins is also coming on strong and would make an excellent third addition.  And Gillaspie, who I will mention in the "athlete" section is another high potential prospect.  Burke and Franklin are two elite linebackers on the other side of the state.  Both would be huge gets but it will be hard to get either.  With the state loaded with top linebackers this year the Panthers really need to come through with a handful of them this year.


Patrick Amara, West Philadelphia HS (Philadelphia)-  For some reason he gets mentioned more as a receiver but he's much better on the defensive side of the field where he uses his 6'2" 175 pound frame, long wingspan, and quickness to be a real ballhawk.  

Brandan Blair, Sto-Rox HS (McKees Rocks)-  Versatile athlete who at 5'11" and 175 pounds is probably best suited at safety.  Cousin of DeJuan Blair and Cameron Saddler.  Recently picked up a Temple offer.

Joey Brungo, Kiski Area HS (Vandergrift)- A bit of a sleeper with good speed and athleticism to go with nice 6'2" and 180 pound size.  Also a talented baseball player. His sister is on the Pitt Swimming team. 

Elijah Cottrill, Beaver Falls HS (Beaver Falls)-  Excellent athlete and fast at 6'2" and 180 pounds.  Also one of the best basketball players in western PA, and he is a possible D-1 player at that sport.

Anthony Davis, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  One of the best cornerback prospects in the state.  Excellent 6'1" 180 pound size.  Excellent cover skills but he'll come up strong in run support, too.  Pitt is already recruiting him and he holds offers from Illinois, Texas Tech, and Toledo.

Dravon Henry, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  At least one of the top five prospects in the state for 2014, and may even be the top dog.  Very fast and quick.  Not big at 5'11" and 185 pounds, but he has the makings of an Ed Reed-type centerfielder on defense. Could also be an excellent college running back but he wants to play safety.  Obviously there is a pipeline from Aliquippa to Pitt but Ohio State could be a major player, too. Pitt, Ohio State, Rutgers, and West Virginia are some of the top programs that have already offered him.

Felix Manus-Schell, Cathedral Prep HS (Erie)-  There's a handful of excellent cornerbacks in this PA class, but this young man is a contender for the best of the bunch.  Stood out as a junior on the Quad A state champs thanks to his 6'0" 170 pound size and his superb ball skills. Has heard from Pitt but is a big Penn State fan.

Trevon Mathis, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh)-  Athletic at 5'11" and 165 pounds.  Performed extremely well in 7 on 7 tournaments last summer, then followed it up with a very good season.  

Nate Monroe, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg)-  Excellent high school linebacker that projects to safety at the college level due to his 5'11" 185 pound body.  Tough, aggressive tackler.   

Montae Nicholson, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  Could be the top prospect int he state next season.  Already a solidly built 6'2" and 200 pounds.  Highly athletic and quick.  Can project just as well as a wide receiver.  Put on a show in offseason camps and combines and came back with offers from the likes of Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Ohio State, Maryland, Illinois, Texas Tech, and Michigan already.  There will be many more.

Jermaine Norris, Mastery Charter North HS (Philadelphia)-  Athletic cover corner with some length and speed.  Has to gain weight to his 5'11" 175 pound frame, but he has good length for a corner with long arms.  Was named first team all-state this season in AAA.

Delvon Randall, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  The entire Gators defensive backfield are going to go D-1 and this 6'0" 185 pound safety should have many options.  Toledo has already offered but there will be more.  

Harry Randall, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh)-  Solid 6'0" 185 pound body with very good speed, athleticism, and hands.  Has everything it takes to be a big time safety but he needs to work on his academics.

Tyree Spearman, McDowell HS (Erie)-  Small at 5'9" and 180 pounds, and he needs work on his grades, but other than that he's an excellent prospect who is very tough and aggressive, but also has very good speed.  One of the better wrestlers in the state, too.  Teammate with incoming Pitt signee James Conner. 

Niko Thorpe, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)-  Impressively aggressive and quick linebacker but at 5'10" and 210 pounds, he will have to move to safety if he wants to be a major D-1 prospect. If he stays at linebacker, he will end up at mid-major or smaller program.

Elijah Zeise, North Allegheny HS (Wexford)-  The son of former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pitt beat writer, Paul Zeise, he has impressive speed and athleticism at a very solid 6'2" and 185 pounds.  Could also project at wide receiver but appears best suited for safety. Already holds a Pitt offer. 

(2015) John Reid, St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia)-  Cornerbacks who can truly cover a receiver one and one are highly coveted. That's why as a 5'9" 160 pound sophomore, Reid already has offers from Rutgers, Maryland, UCF, Boston College, and Colorado. Needless to say, he will be one of the top cornerbacks nationally in '15.  

(2015) Carrington Vaughn, Fox Chapel Area HS (Pittsburgh)- Sleek, athletic linebacker who at 5'11" and 175 pounds will project to safety at the next level.  Runs an 11.83 100m, which should only improve as he mature.  Hits like a train.  

(2015) Jordan Whitehead, Central Valley HS (Monaca)-  Robert Foster got all of the attention at Central Valley but this sophomore is just as talented.  At 5'10" and 170 pounds, he has speed to burn and some of the quickest feet in the country.  A definite national recruit and major Pitt target.  Already holds a Rutgers offer.  Best friends with Foster so that may be a factor in where he ends up.

Where Pitt stands:  The state is very deep at this position this year and like every program in the country, Pitt can never have enough defensive backs.  Henry is the big name here and as a national recruit with huge potential, he is a must get.  If Zeise would join him, the Panthers would have done extremely well at the safety position.  Cottrill will be excellent, too, but he may end up playing basketball in college.  Nicholson may be the biggest name of all, but I think he will wind up at someplace like Ohio State.  Davis would be a huge addition at corner as would Manus-Schell, but he may be headed to Penn State.  Spearman is small, but he's very good.  Vaughn, and especially Whitehead, are huge targets in '15.


Dashawn Darden, Cardinal O'Hara HS (Springfield)-  Excellent high school quarterback, and has the talent to be a very good small college quarterback, but at 5'10" and 175 pounds he will have to switch to wide receiver or cornerback if he wants to play high major football.

Clintell Gillaspie, Monessen HS (Monessen)-  Here is a player that few have heard of, but that a lot of recruiting fans will hear about over the next year.  Already a great build at 6'2" and 220 pounds, but he's very fast and athletic.  Could turn into a major prospect.

Brandon Mitchell, Fox Chapel Area HS (Pittsburgh)-  The Penn Hills transfer plays quarterback now, and has a strong arm to go with his 6'6" 200 pound frame, but he doesn't really have the quarterback skills yet. If he can develop them during the upcoming season then he would make a great developmental prospect for somebody. Otherwise, he could make it at wide receiver due to his height and excellent speed. Excellent hurdler who is the nephew of former Penn Hills track star Dion Bentley, who set a scholastic long jump record in 1989. 

DeAndre Scott, Imhotep Charter School (Philadelphia)-  He may sound small at 5'9" and 180 pounds, but he will lay out anybody who roams into his area, which is everywhere on the field thanks to his excellent 11.37 100m speed.  The emotional leader of the loaded Imhotep squad.  Big time player who has been called a high school Brian Dawkins by Philadelphia high school football observers. 

Thaddius Smith, Cardinal O'Hara HS (Springfield)-  Even though he's just 5'9" and 170 pounds, he will be ranked near the top of the PA rankings due to his great speed and athleticism.  Can play running back, wide receiver, or cornerback but he seems ideal to be used in the same way Tavon Austin was used at West Virginia.  Rutgers and Temple have already offered.

Terry Swanson, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  Only 5'9" and 180 pounds so he may have to move to defensive back, but he has such nice running skills that it would be great to give him a look at that position first.  Excellent quickness and very good speed.  His dad is a Pitt alum.

Lenny Williams, Sto-Rox HS (McKees Rocks)- One of the most productive quarterbacks in WPIAL history, and he has a strong arm, but at 5'11" and 195 pounds he will probably have to play wide receiver or safety if he wants a shot at a high major program. I could definitely see him as an excellent quarterback option at a midlevel or small program.  Just picked up a Temple offer.

Daquan Worley, Coatesville Area HS (Coatesville)-  Very good 11.45 100m speed with off the charts quickness.  At 5'10" and 175 pounds he will need to get bigger to be an every down back, but even if not he has great hands and could be a wide receiver, while also projecting just as well as a cornerback.

Where Pitt stands:  Gillaspie I mentioned in the linebacker section and Mitchell I mention in the wide receiver section.  Both are exciting athletes.  Scott, Smith, and Worley are all big time athletes but as they are on the eastern side of the state, Pitt would have a tough battle for all.  Swanson is a very good player who will probably end up at Pitt if he gets offered.  


Adam Mitcheson, Kiski Area HS (Vandergrift)- It's not too often that I even bother with talking about kickers because not a lot get scholarship offers, but this kid has special skills.  Has a strong body at 6'2" and 190 pounds, and can punt and placekick equally well.

Where Pitt stands:  The Panthers are already bringing in a punter and a kicker this season, but this kid is the real deal.  Will Pitt go for a third kicker in a two year span?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Robert Foster chooses Alabama

A very tough loss for Pitt to lose local superstar Robert Foster, but if they can still manage to land Tyler Boyd this season and Troy Apke next season, then the receiving corps will still be excellent going into the future.  But good luck to Robert and I hope all Pitt fans also wish him luck.  He's a good kid and you can't fault him for wanting to play for the best program in the country.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pitt loses defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable

Former Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable has taken the job as the defensive coordinator for NC State.  There he will work under new Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren.  Both coached at Wisconsin previously.

Look for the possibility of Charlie Partridge to come back to Pitt.  Partridge was a former linebackers coach for the Panthers.  An excellent Florida recruiter, Partridge was the co-defensive coordinator and the associate head coach for Wisconsin this season.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Final Top 25 of PA

1.  Robert Foster, Central Valley HS (Monaca) WR- For some reason, recruiting services try to get cute and name everybody but him as the best prospect in the state, and that's their mistake.  No offense to the other elite prospects because all have an equal chance to be great college players, and maybe even NFL players, but Foster has no questions in his game at all, and should be ranked No.1 in the state.

He needs to fill in a little, and is around 180 now, but he has the excellent 6'3" height.  He also has long arms, great hands, superb speed, and off the chart quickness.  He is not just an athlete who is playing wide receiver.  He's a legit receiver who knows how to play the position and runs good routes.  He is also tough as hell and is not afraid of contact in the least.  He is a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball, and is excellent on reverses and punt and kick returns.

Chose ALABAMA over Pittsburgh,  but had offers from just about everybody including Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida, LSU, Oregon, USC, and Ohio State.

Bottom line-  Everybody knows he can be a superstar, yet amazingly he is still a little underrated.  Has the potential to reach just about any level, including NFL stardom.

2.  Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing Area HS (Wyomissing) LB-  Even in the NFL, it's hard to find true linebackers who are the total package.  And in college most linebackers are either big, slower kids or small, fast kids who could just as easily be safeties.  That's why Anzalone (pronounced Ann-zuh-loney) is so highly covered.

He already has good 6'3" 230 pound size, and has the frame to add a lot more muscle.  He is long, has very good speed, and excellent quickness.  He is along strider who just seems to blow by past people.  Also an excellent kid who is mature and soft spoken.

Originally committed to Ohio State, then switched to Notre Dame, before ultimately committing to FLORIDA.  Other offers included Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC, and Stanford.

Bottom line-  Excellent all around linebacker.  When one thinks of the typical tough PA linebacker, they should think of this kid.

3.  Adam Breneman Cedar Cliff HS (Camp Hill) TE- It's rare to find kids with tight end size who can also run, so when one is found the offers just pour in.  When they are as productive and as mature as this young man, well, he becomes one of the more recruited players in the country.

He decided to stay home and play for PENN STATE, and he's already starting to become a legend even though he hasn't even signed yet.  And that's because he is very proud of being a Nittany Lion, and he is very vocal in recruiting and giving the university a lot of good publicity.  He's already a great leader and very mature.

On the field he is 6'4" and 230 pounds, with good speed and great hands.  He needs to get bigger and stronger, and he's coming off a major knee injury that cost him his entire senior season, but it looks like nothing can stop this young man from being a star at Penn State.

It may be easier to say who didn't offer Adam, but some of the big ones who did offer include Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, and Nebraska.

Bottom line-  Excellent prospect on the field and a mature team leader off the field.  The sky is the limit.

4.  Dorian Johnson, Belle Vernon Area HS (Belle Vernon) OT-  When I first saw tape on this kid back in January, my jaw dropped.  It's not too often that you see a 6'6" 270 pound kid move like this.  His quickness at the snap is phenomenal, as his habit of pushing unmatched opponents ten yards down the field.  His arms are extremely long, his feet are quick, and his frame can easily put on another 50 or 60 pounds if he wants.

He originally surprised many by committing to Penn State, but after the Nittany Lions were slapped with a four year bowl ban, Johnson changed his commitment to PITTSBURGH.  The fact that he handled the switch with both class and maturity showed what kind of young man he is.

Other offers included Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee.

Bottom line-  Once he adds the weight, he will have everything it takes to be a big time left tackle at the college level, and perhaps beyond.

5.  Tyler Boyd, Clairton Area HS (Clairton) WR-  If you ever needed proof that superstars can be found at small schools, look no further than this young man.  A WPIAL legend and one of the most productive players the state has ever seen.  And make no mistake about it, he still would have been a huge star if he was in Quad A.

He needs to add weight to his 6'1" 170 pound frame, but he has great length, speed, quickness, and hands.  He has not spent much time as a traditional receiver for the Bears, taking most snaps as a running back, but he should have no problem at all learning the position.  He could just as easily be an All-American caliber safety at the next level and has excellent return skills as well.

Committed to PITTSBURGH over West Virginia, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Arizona, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, and others.

Bottom line- Smooth, impressive athlete and a really good football player. Reminiscent of former Woodland Hills, and Michigan star, Steve Breaston.  Could definitely be a star in college.

6.  Patrick Kugler, North Allegheny HS (Wexford) OG/C- An excellent all around interior offensive lineman with toughness, quickness, and a real nastiness.  At 6'4" and 275 pounds, he needs to add at least 25 pounds, but after a redshirt season he should be ready to compete for playing time.  His dad, Sean, was the Steelers offensive line coach this season, and has recently been named as the head coach at UTEP.

Committed to MICHIGAN over the likes of Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Florida State, Oklahoma, Florida, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Miami, Washington, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Bottom line-  Very advanced with his technique because of his father, and once he gets bigger he could be a Big Ten star because he has everything else it takes to reach that level.

7.  David Williams, Imhotep Institute Charter School (Philadelphia) RB-  The state hasn't consistently put out a lot of nationally recruited running backs for awhile, but not many are the full package like Williams.  A little tall for running backs these days at 6'1", and needs to add some size to his 192 pound frame, but he has speed to burn, great quickness and agility, and elite level vision.  He also can run inside and outside, he can return kicks and punts, and he has very good hands.

Needless to say, with all of those attributes Williams has had an impressive offer list.  At the moment, South Carolina seems to be the favorite, but other offers have come from Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Arizona State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Virginia, Tennessee, and Rutgers.

Bottom line-  Big time back with the all around skills to be a major success at the college level.

8.  Mike McGlinchey, William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia) OT- If size is what you want in your offensive tackles, you can't do much better than the 6'8" McGlinchey.  Needs to add much more weight to his 280 pounds, but he has frame to easily put on another 50 pounds.  Obviously he has the long reach that comes from being 6'8", but he also plays tough and just as impressively, he runs amazingly well for his size.  On some running plays, he's still out in front of the running back 30 yards down the field.  Also a good basketball player.

Committed to NOTRE DAME over offers from Pittsburgh, Penn State, Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Bottom line-  Once he adds some weight he could be a big time player because the wingspan, feet, and toughness are topnotch.

9.  Scott Orndoff, Seton-LaSalle HS (Pittsburgh) TE-  The full package athletically with great 6'6" 245 pound size already with the frame to get bigger.  He is fantastic after the catch and has excellent hands.  Maybe the most impressive thing is that he has run a 11.6 100m, a ridiculous number for a player that size.

Originally committed to Wisconsin, but changed to PITTSBURGH.  Also had offers from the likes of West Virginia, Michigan, and Michigan State.

Bottom line-  Like Breneman, he is the new bread of freakishly athletic tight end, and his size/speed combination is pretty crazy.  In Paul Chryst's tight end heavy offense, he should be a star eventually.

10.  Zayd Issah, Central Dauphin HS (Harrisburg) LB-  Very good athlete with straight line speed, toughness, and athleticism.  Lean, but muscular at 6'3" and 210 pounds with the frame to easily add 30 pounds if he wants. Very productive football player who lead his team to the state Quad A championship last season.  Name is pronounced as "Zade Eee-saw".

Committed to PENN STATE over the likes of Pittsburgh, Oregon, Arizona State, Virginia, Maryland, NC State, Iowa, and Rutgers.

Bottom line-  Really good football player, strong and athletic, and a quality young man.  Could really help keep the Nittany Lions during their penalized years.

11.  Damion Terry, Cathedral Preparatory School (Erie) QB-  Has the good 6'4" 210 pound size, a strong arm, and very good athleticism.  Very good speed and has the ability to get a big gain when running out of the pocket.  Had an excellent senior season and has improved a lot.

MICHIGAN STATE came into the state early and got a steal with this young man. He committed way back in April so his only other offers were Illinois, Duke, and Boston College, but if he waited he could have more.  Not that he needed that since the Spartans are one of the better programs in the country.

Bottom line-  Very good quarterback prospect who is capable of starting in the Big 10 in a few years.

12.  Will Fuller, Roman Catholic HS (Philadelphia) WR- Every year there is a player that people wonder why he isn't recruited heavier and this is this year's player.  Way too thin at 6'1" and 160 pounds, but he has good speed, excellent quickness, and some of the best hands in the country.  His ball skills are so smooth that he wowed observers over the summer at camps and combines.  He just catches everything in sight and does it effortlessly.

Initially chose Penn State but then changed his commitment to NOTRE DAME.  Other offers included  Boston College, Rutgers, and Temple.

Bottom line-  Won't dazzle with his size or speed, but he has all the nuances to be a quality college receiver.

13.  Chavas Rawlins, Monessen Area HS (Monessen) QB/DB-  Excellent athlete with very good speed and a solid 6'2" 190 pound frame.  He doesn't have a cannon but he does have the arm to make all of the throws.  His technique is very raw, however, and it's still an unknown if he could ever develop his passing enough to be a major college passer.  He's such a good athlete, though, that he could easily switch to wide receiver or safety, and if he puts on enough weight, he could even be a linebacker.

Chose WEST VIRGINIA over offers that included Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Northwestern, Georgia Tech,  North Carolina, Rutgers, Virginia, South Florida, and Tennessee.

Bottom line-  If he makes it as quarterback, great, but if he doesn't he has all the physical attributes to be a success at a different position.

14.  Delton Williams, Cathedral Preparatory School (Erie) LB/S- The full package with 6'2" 205 pound size, and a high degree of speed, athleticism, and strength.  He's also very productive, starring at one of the top Quad A schools in the state.  He has played mostly at running back in high school, and he could project at that position at the next level, too, but initially he is expected to be on defense.  Also an excellent return man.

He was arrested earlier in the year for being in a car that marijuana in it, but the charges were dropped. Some schools stopped recruiting him for that reason, but MICHIGAN STATE stuck with him and got his commitment.  Others who offered at one time included Penn State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Nebraska.

Bottom line-  No clue where he will eventually end up on the field, but he is an excellent physical specimen and a really good football player.

15.  Andrew Nelson, Hershey HS (Hershey) OL-  At 6'5" and 265 pounds, he obviously has to get much bigger, but he has the frame to put on good weight, plus long arms, quick feet, and a nasty disposition.  But the thing that stands out the most with him is how fast he is.  On his tape, he snaps for a punt then beats everybody down the field to make the tackle.  Rarely have I seen an offensive line prospect move as fast as him.  

Chose PENN STATE early or he would have had a lot more offers.  Still he had some offers from Pittsburgh, Northwestern, Maryland, and Missouri.

Bottom line-  If he puts on the weight and stays healthy, he could really be special for the Nittany Lions in a few years.

16.  DeShawn Coleman, Hickory HS (Hermitage) RB-  Fast, electrifying back with off the charts quickness.  He doesn't play against top competition, but he still often embarrasses the hell out of defenders who try to stop him.   Also has good return skills.  He hasn't been asked to catch much, but he appears to have no problems with his hands. 

At 5'11" and 170 pounds, he's a little light so he's a better fit in an offense where he has room to run.  Luckily for him, he chose the school to do that with WEST VIRGINIA.  Penn State and Purdue offered but there would have been more had he not committed back in April.

Bottom line-  A threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball so he will fit in nicely with the Mountaineers offense.

17. Jaryd Jones-Smith, West Catholic HS (Philadelphia)-  Giant 6'7" 320 pound tackle with very good feet and a great wingspan.  Needs a lot of work in the weight room, especially his lower body.  Had an excellent senior season and excelled on defensive just as much as offense.  Chose PITTSBURGH over Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, NC State, Arizona, and Vanderbilt.

Bottom line-  Has everything it takes to be a left tackle at the college level, except for strength, and that that can be improved.

18.  Brian Lemelle, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg) WR-  On the smallish size at 5'11" and 170 pounds, but he is a solid all around prospect with good speed, hands, and athleticism.  Doesn't stand out in any one area but at the end of the day he knows how to be a receiver.  All the evidence you need is that he is Pennsylvania's all-time career leader in receptions and yards.

His offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Nebraska, Iowa, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Virginia,  and Purdue.

Bottom line-  Not big or really fast, but he's so productive and solid at the little things that he should help whichever school he goes to.

19.  James Conner, McDowell HS (Erie) RB/DE-  A sleeper over the summer but that was before he showed his athleticism, speed, and strength in camps and combines.  He followed that up with a big senior season.  At 6'3" 230 pounds, he is a runaway train as a running back, and he may get the chance to play that on the college level.  If not, he could always move to defense.

Chose PITTSBURGH over a handful of MAC schools.  Needless to say, he is highly under recruited.

Bottom line-  Intriguing player because of his excellent athleticism at that size.

20.  Justin Moody, George Washington HS (Philadelphia) DT-  He had some good showings at some Philadelphia combines earlier in the year and it caused him to be overrated by scouting services.  But even though he was overrated then he's still pretty good.  He has a solid 6'3" and 265 pound frame, and he's athletic and quick.  His main problem is that he plays chaotically with little consistent technique.  Once he gets that under control, he could reach his ceiling.

Chose PITTSBURGH over Purdue, Syracuse, Rutgers, Syracuse, Central Florida, and Temple.

Bottom line-  He needs a lot of coaching but the natural skills are all present.

21.  Hodari Christian, McKeesport Area HS (McKeesport) LB/S-  Lean, but solidly built at 6'1" and 210 pounds, with the ability to add good weight if it's needed.  Good speed, athleticism, toughness, and strength.  Also a good tackler.

Chose WEST VIRGINIA over Pittsburgh, Northwestern, Rutgers, Temple, Illinois, and Purdue;

Bottom line-  Good all around player who got lost in the shuffle because he committed early. If he was still out there, many teams would be on him.

22.  Daryl Worley, William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia) WR/S-  A late bloomer on the recruiting front, but when you are 6'0" and 180 pounds, and you are one of the faster players in the state you can't hide for long.  Won conference titles with a 11.14 100m and a 22.27 200m.  Can project equally as a receiver or a safety at the college level, but most schools wanted him as a safety.

He's been told that he will get to choose at WEST VIRGINIA, where he committed to over the summer.  Others offering included Pittsburgh, Penn State, Syracuse, Iowa, Tennessee, Northwestern, Rugers, Boston College, Temple, and UConn.

Bottom line-  Any time a player has this kind of speed, he has a chance to make an impression at the college level.

23.  Shakir Soto, GAR Memorial HS (Wilkes-Barre) DE-  Already has excellent size at 6'4" and 250 pounds, to go with good athleticism and speed.  Has always been an excellent run defender, but he has the tools to rush the passer at the college level and came on to have 13.5 sacks this season.  Against the run, he uses his strength, size, long arms, and aggressiveness to make it very difficult for any running back to get around him.

Chose PITTSBURGH way back in April so many schools never got a look at him before he committed, but he still had offers from schools like Virginia, Maryland, and Boston College.

Bottom line-  The type of player that many schools may look back on and wonder how they missed on him.

24.  Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette HS (McDonald) WR-  Good size at 6'2" and 180 pounds, but he will need to add more mass.  Quicker and faster than he gets credit for and has more than enough speed for the college level.  Great hands and he seems to catch everything in sight, sometimes in an acrobatic fashion.  Highly productive.

Chose PITTSBURGH over Temple and a handful of MAC schools.

Bottom line-  A big star in the WPIAL and has what it takes to be a quality player in college.  He's definitely under recruited.

25.  Matt Galambos, Haverford School (Haverford) LB- Solid 6'2" and 225 pounds with good speed.  Aggressive and excellent tackler who flies around the field like a maniac.  Came from a bad childhood to become a great student with a 4.1 GPA.  Can play on the outside or in the middle.  Had a great year and proved that he was a top prospect.

Chose PITTSBURGH over Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Harvard, and Yale.

Bottom line- A big sleeper who is known by many in that area as the best defensive player in southeastern PA.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visitors this week

As of now, there are ten 2013 prospects visiting this weekend, with four of them already committed.  Those four are Shakir Soto, Tra'von Chapman, Tyrique Jarrett, and Scott Orndoff.  Here are capsules of the six non-committed prospects, in the order of how good they are and how important it is to land them.

1.  Jaryd Jones-Smith, West Catholic HS (Philadelphia, PA) OT-  Because there are no big time programs in the Philadelphia area, kids there get overlooked often, but that's good news for Pitt because it may enable them to steal this kid.  He already has size at 6'7" and 315 pounds, and he is naturally big.  He has a frame that can get him to 340 and I wouldn't be surprised if he reached that level if he signed with Pitt.  

He's still raw and needs to get in the weight room, but his natural size, quick feet, and enormous wingspan is something the Pitt staff can really work with.  He's also young for his class so that's another plus. He may be a few years away from making an impact but an offensive line class that has Dorian Johnson and Jones-Smith at the top is a great sign for the future.

"Burger", as he's known, also has offers from NC State, Virginia, Temple, Central Florida, and Arizona.  Virginia and NC State are the biggest obstacles for the Panthers.

2.  JoJo Kemp, Deland HS (Deland, FL), RB-  He's not the prospect that the de-committed Corey Clement was, but that doesn't mean that Kemp won't be a better college player.  He's not big at 5'10" and 190, and he's not a speed demon, but he's quick, he has good hands, and he runs hard.  He's very similar in style to former Pitt star Dion Lewis in that he's small, but he's tough between the tackles, and he is a much better football player than his size and speed would indicate. 

Bottom line, Clement had the makings of a future stud, but Kemp is the kind of all around back that could contribute in many ways over four years.

Nebraska, West Virginia, and Kentucky are his top four, and South Florida, Mississippi State, Iowa State, Rutgers, Purdue, and Wake Forest are some of his other offers.  

3.  Jaleel Hytchye, LaSalle HS (Cincinnati, OH) CB-  Even for a cover corner, he needs to add strength as he looks even lighter than his listed 5'11" and 170 pounds.  He has topnotch speed however, and is a slick cover corner with long arms.  He reminds me of a faster K'Waun Williams, which is a nice thing to be.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers get a commitment form him this weekend or not long after, but Northwestern is also in the mix and he's scheduled to visit there in January.  Other offers have come from Arizona State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville, Boston College, Purdue, and Penn State.

4.  Justin Moody, George Washington HS (Philadelphia) DT-  He had some nice showings this summer at individual camps which resulted in some recruiting services overrating him somewhat.  The result of that is now he may actually be a little underrated now.

At 6'3" and 270 pounds, he will project to the inside where he can use his good quickness and tenacity.  He is a little raw and needs to get a little stronger, but he could turn out to be a good player down the road.  Pretty much the same level of Panthers freshman Darryl Render, who saw some playing time this season.  As an added bonus, if he does decide to sign with Pitt, it will be good publicity as he has been selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on January 4th.

Besides Pitt, Syracuse is also expected to get a visit, and Rutgers, Temple, Purdue, and Central Florida have offered.

5.  Blake McClain, Winter Park HS (Winter Park, FL) CB- Currently a Kentucky commit, but he's been looking around.  To show you how much talent there is in Florida, he's considered borderline top 100 in the state and he still has offers from Pitt, Kentucky, West Virginia, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Boston College, Wake Forest, and more.

He's 5'11" and 180, and he has good speed.  Basically he has good everything, but he doesn't stand out as excellent at any one facet.  But he plays tough against the run and he's a good athlete.  The type who could be develop and be a good starter in the defensive backfield down the road.

6.  Alex Officer, Eastside HS (Rochester, NY) C/OG- Alex was offered by the previous staff and after a few months of looking elsewhere, the current staff came back to the lineman.  He's not the size that this Pitt staff likes, believe it or not, though he's 6'4" and 315 pounds.  At Wisconsin, the linemen were at least 6'5" and even their centers have been known to go to 6'6".  He's a little thick around the middle, his competition was weak, and he's raw.

But on the plus side, he's got very good feet, he's has good strength already, and he plays with a bit of a mean streak.  Bottom line, he's a good development prospect that at the very least will add good depth down the road.

Louisville is his co-favorite and he also has offers from Boston College, UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, UMass, and Buffalo. He also recently visited Penn State but left without an offer.

Chryst to stay at Pitt

As I predicted, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez will not pursue Paul Chryst to be the next head coach for the Badgers because he called in favors at Pitt to get Chryst hired as the Panthers coach.  There is some morality left in college football.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pittsburgh 66 Duquesne 45

It wasn't always pretty, but at least the result was never in question as the Panthers improve to 8-1.

1.  Tray Woodall was the player of the game with 24 points, including 5-8 from three and 5-5 from the line.  He also had 5 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and even a block.  If he could play more like that then Pitt could be a Sweet 16 team.

2.  Another player needed to get to that level is freshman Steven Adams who may finally be getting it.  Yes, his hands still betray him sometimes, and he was brutal in his put back attempts in the first half, but he ended up with 8 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal. 

3.  Lamar Patterson again had a nice all around game with 13 points, including 5-8 from the field and 3-4 from three, as well as 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and a block.

4.  James Robinson was once again solid with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and a steal.  He also only had 2 turnovers.

5.  Talib Zanna had a low key game with 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 turnovers.

6.  On the downside, the bench, normally a strength, was brutal.  They ended up with just 8 points and they shot 3-19 from the field.  J.J. Moore was 1-9, but he did have 6 rebounds and the bench chipped in with 15 rebounds altogether. They also had 1 assist to go with 6 turnovers.  To make matters worse, they shot 2-5 from the line.  

7.  Duquesne had a terrible shooting night, going for 31.6% from the field, 23.8% from three, and with no inside game, they only attempted 6 free throws, making four.  But Pitt wasn't much better, shooting 38.7% from the field and 56.3% from the line.  The saving grace, however, came from three, thanks mostly to Woodall, as the Panthers made 9-16, good for 56.3%.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paul Chryst statement- What does is mean?

“I understand the speculation surrounding my name given today’s developments. I am committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh. I am focusing all my time and energy on our team’s bowl game preparation and recruiting a great group of young men to join our program and this outstanding university. We are working hard every day to re-establish this program and I am excited about the future of Pitt football.”

Final Grades for Pitt Football- Defense and Coaching

Defensive Line:  This unit was not good for the first half of the season, but just like last season they came on strong at the end of the year.  The main reason for that is junior Aaron Donald, who was back to his dominant self in the second half of the season.  In the first half of the season, Donald had just 18 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and one sack.  In the second half, he had 45 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.  That's some difference.  His sack total is down from last season, but his tackles and tackles for loss are up.  Bottom line, the guy is a star who right now is one of the best defensive linemen in the country.

Beside Donald inside is Tyrone Ezell, who was solid with 34 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.  In reserve, Khaynin Mosley-Smith was a disappointment with just 8 tackles.

The ends supplied little for the first part of the season, and while there are no stars in the bunch, they at least performed better in the second half of the season. Bryan Murphy was below average at the beginning of the year but once he shook the rust off he ended up with 25 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 6 hurries. Those aren't elite numbers but it's much better than what was expected after the first few games.

Maybe the most impressive development on the line was senior Shayne Hale, who finally lived up to at least some of his potential.  He has 23 tackles on the season, along with an impressive 7.5 tackles for loss.  He also ended up with two sacks.  On the other side, T.J. Clemmings was a big disappointment with just 20 tackles, and 8 of those came against Buffalo.

One intriguing player was redshirt freshman Devin Cook, who only ended up with 12 tackles on the season, but amazingly 8 of them were a loss.  He also had a sack, 3 hurries, and 2 forced fumbles.  With that kind of big play ability, he's clearly somebody to keep an eye on in the future.

In the first half of the season, the Panthers gave up an average of 138.3 yards a game on the ground.  In the second half of the season, the average dropped to 119.8 yards a game.  And this was with the No.1 team in the nation, Notre Dame, going for 231 yards.  On the season, the Panthers rushing defense is at 129.1 yards a game, good for No.24 in the country.

Last Season's Final Grade:  A-
This Season's Preseason Grade: B-
Midseason Grade:  D
Final Grade:  B-

Linebackers:  Like the entire defense, this unit made good strides in the second half of the season, thanks mostly to Dan Mason and Todd Thomas.

Mason amazed everybody but himself apparently, when he amassed 21 total tackles against Buffalo and Temple.  But he lacerated his liver and was lost again for the rest of the season.  But he was excellent in those two games, as well as the Louisville game proceeding those two.

Meanwhile, Thomas looks like he's on a one way street to stardom.  After injuries kept him out of almost the entire first half of the season, in the second half he totaled 49 tackles, a 33-yard interception, 4 pass breakups, and even a blocked punt.  His 8.2 tackles a game average in the second half was very close to the 8.6 tackles a game that Notre Dame superstar Manti Te'o amassed on the season.  I'm not saying that Thomas is at that level, but he's proving to be one of the better linebackers in the country against the pass.

Eric Williams was also solid on the season with 48 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, 2 pass breakups, and 5 hurries.  None of those numbers are special but there's enough there to see that the sophomore should only get better.

When Mason wasn't in the middle, Shane Gordon usually was, but the junior didn't come up as big as was hoped for when the season started.  He ended the season with 48 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 6 pass breakups.  Those numbers aren't horrible but the middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense usually has much more tackles. In the second half of the season he only had 14 tackles and 9 of those came against Rutgers.

Redshirt freshman Nicholas Grigsby had 27 tackles, but only 3 of those came in the second half of the season after Thomas came back into the lineup.  Manny Williams had 24 tackles but was injured in the second half of the season and was lost for the season.  Joe Trebitz filled in when Mason and Gordon were injured, and he came up big with 13 tackles against Notre Dame and 9 against UConn.  But then he also got injured and saw little time afterward.

Last Season's Final Grade:  C-
This Season's Preseason Grade:  B-
Midseason Grade:  D
Final Grade:  C

Defensive Backs:  It took some time but eventually the secondary lived up to their lofty expectations.  K'Waun Williams had one bad half against Louisville, when he was battling a leg injury, and he missed some snaps early in the season because of a preseason injury, but usually when he was in there, he was an excellent cover corner.  He had 44 tackles on the season, 2.5 sacks, and 3 interceptions.

Williams had to come through because as the season went on, it became apparent that opponents were not going to throw at Lafayette Pitts anymore.  Just a redshirt freshman, Pitts was excellent with 32 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, and a team high 9 pass breakups. Pitts was so good that he had better stats in the second half of the season even though he was getting less action his way.

Cullen Christian was the top cornerback reserve, and only came up with 14 tackles on the season, but the fact that he's never been singled out is proof that he did his job well.

At safety, it took awhile for Paul Chryst and Dave Huxtable to figure out who got how many snaps, but eventually Jason Hendricks and Jared Holley rose to the top.  Hendricks had a breakout year with a team high 73 tackles and a Big East high 5 interceptions.  Needless to say he played at an all-conference level.  Not far behind was Holley, who started slow, but came on strong with 70 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 pass breakups.  Andrew Taglianetti added 34 tackles as a solid reserve, and Ray Vinopal who began the season as a starter, ended up with 13 tackles.

In the first half of the season, the defense gave up 205.2 yards a game through the air, but it improved to 188.3 yards a game over the last six games.  The Panthers also had 8 of their 13 interceptions in the second half of the season.

For the season, the pass defense ranked No.24 in the nation with 196.8 yards a game and the pass efficiency defense ended up No.22 nationally.  One stat that lowers the grade of the unit, however, is third down defense, which is No.97 nationally.

Last Season's Final Grade:  B-
This Season's Preseason Grade:  B+
Midseason Grade:  C
Final Grade: B

Coaching:  Pitt fans want to believe that Chryst will bring them back to at least respectability, if not excellence.  For that reason, many get very defensive when you bring up the truth, which is that it's still impossible to say how well Chryst will do.  He started off with an inexperienced, questionable staff, and then started very slowly in recruiting.  He also made some poor very poor on the field decisions.

While he still makes some bad game decisions, the program is light years ahead of where they were just a few months ago.  The recruiting for 2013 could have a great close, and they are working the 2014 class hard.  Also, the team in the second half got better, especially on defense.  And let's never forget that Chryst turned Tino Sunseri into a highly productive quarterback, something that was previously considered impossible.

But at the end of the day, the team went 6-6, and finished near the bottom nationally in more than a few  categories.  For that reason, I think the grade I give is the only one I can give since this is isn't where I think Chryst will eventually have the program, but rather what the team has done this season.

This Season's Preseason Grade: C
This Season's Midseason Grade:  D
Final Grade:  C+