I'm working on a story about the top 2014 kids who will be at Pitt's Junior Day in two weeks. I'll have a bio on each. It's impossible to know who they all are because Pitt doesn't officially release that info, but I will update it during that weekend. That will be out in two weeks. And by the way, the list is very impressive. The Pitt staff was behind in recruiting year and played catch up, but that's not the case this year. Serious contact is made halfway through a kid's junior season and Pitt didn't have that chance last year. But this year they are on the ball.
While I expect Chandler Kincade to stay committed to Pitt, the Panthers are wisely recruiting other quarterbacks just in case. One, A.J. Long, who played in eastern PA before moving to Tennessee, will be at Pitt's Junior Day. Another is Joey Duckworth from Ohio. I'll have more info on these guys in the future.
The Panthers still look for an occasional prospect in the midwest, beyond Ohio. In fact, they are interested in Minnesota cornerback Tim Gordon, who may get a Junior Day invite, as well as various players in Wisconsin and Michigan again.
It remains to be seen just how good the top end of the 2014 WPIAL class will be, but there are at least a dozen really good prospects. The good news is, I see Pitt making a killing this year. In fact, I think the Panthers are in strong with at least Brock Boxen, Jaleel Fields, Dravon Henry, Toy Apke, Alex Bookser, Mike Grimm, Chandler Kincade, Shai McKenzie, Elijah Zeise, and Chase Winovich. In fact, I will be surprised if Fields, Henry, Boxen, Apke, Kincade, Zeise, and Winovich don't become Panthers.
If the Panthers can land Grimm and Bookser, the future Pitt offensive line will be just plain scary. The bookend tackles will join Dorian Johnson, Adam Bisnowaty, Gabe Roberts, Aaron Reese, Jaryd Jones-Smith, and Alex Officer to give Pitt an offensive line that at least potentially can be fantastic.
I tweeted today about a report that revealed that at the Under Armour Game practices, Robert Foster's family were all wearing Pitt jerseys. All it means probably is that the family are big Pitt fans, but it may be something to look for. I'm always a believer that a kid is committed to somebody until he's not, and I don't want to give anybody false hope, but from what I'm hearing Alabama is worried that Pitt is still recruiting him.
Who will be the defensive coordinator? I don't know and no other media member knows. There are websites devoted to these things with very connected people, and they know nothing either. Chryst may have his eye on a coach who is still coaching, and will wait to interview him. The only person who jumps out at me is San Francisco secondary coach Greg Jackson. I would consider that a good hire, but not a slam dunk hire, and to be honest, I would consider that a step down for Jackson. And that's no offense to Pitt, but you can go further in your career with the 49ers over most college jobs, unless it's a head coach job. Other than that, I have no idea. My personal choice would be Randy Shannon, who is currently a linebackers coach at Arkansas. He wants a DC job and recently interviewed at East Carolina. He would create huge buzz in the coaching ranks and would recruit like crazy in Florida.
I haven't been writing much about the Pitt basketball team because I've been too busy after the games, but clearly there are some problems. I defend Steven Adams a lot because the truth is, he helps the team in ways that don't show up in the box score, but there's no reason why he's rebounding just 4.2 rpg a game in his 5 Big East games. James Robinson is also struggling, making just 29% of his shots from the field in Big East play. These are two big time recruits who many thought would make a huge impact right away. The fact that they aren't makes one wonder about the job that Jamie Dixon and his staff is doing.
I don't think Dixon will go to USC, but it's naive to think that one of these times he won't actually leave. Coaches don't last a long time in one place anymore and Dixon has some of the longest tenure at any school in the country, believe it or not. I don't think there's any doubt that he has struggled with the program the last two seasons, but he's too good of a coach to ever go into a tailspin. For that reason, I find it highly unlikely that Pitt would ever fire him, unless he missed the NCAA tournament for at least three years in a row. But if he misses this year, that will be two, so things will start to get iffy. Especially if a new president and athletic director come in.
What's disheartening about Dixon's mini-demise is that he actually has highly coveted recruits on this team. Any team with Adams, Robinson, J.J. Moore, Talib Zanna, and Lamar Patterson should be better than they have performed over the last few weeks. Throw in a lot of dead weight that transferred and there are clearly cracks in Dixon's facade.
I was never a big fan of Tray Woodall and now it's apparent why. His inability to be a senior that can be leaned on is obviously a major factor in the team's problems.
With transfers, Pitt will have to add two new players. A big man will be one, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a juco. The other scholarship could go to Jamel Artis who is more like an old school Pitt player. A 6'7" SF, he can really handle and pass well, but, surprise!!, he isn't a big offensive threat. The two signed players, Michael Young and Josh Newkirk, are very good prospects. Young is a 6'8" combo forward who can rebound like hell when he wants, but can also go outside and stroke the three. He definitely has a little bit of Sam Young to his game, and hopefully he will be just as good because the program clearly needs a star. Newkirk is a 6'2" combo guard who will mostly play at the two because of Robinson. He can jump out of the gym and his offensive game has really improved over the last year. The staff was legitimately surprised that they got him because they thought both Duke and North Carolina would want him.
I'll go into detail in the future about what I think is going on with the Pitt basketball program but the truth is, it takes awhile to watch them because it's so complex. I don't want to just say they need to rebound better or shoot better because that's obvious. The real question is, why don't they rebound or shoot better?