Tra'von Chapman, Theodore Roosevelt HS (Kent, OH)- Highly productive and successful quarterback at the high school level. Though he's often listed at 6'2" and 200 pounds, those close to him say he's more like 6'1" and 190 pounds. Not considered a running quarterback because he only runs when he has to, but he has above average speed and athleticism so he is an effective runner when he has to take off. Obviously that means he's also very mobile in the pocket. Strong arm and can make all the throws. Throws a great long ball. Overall mechanics need work. Quiet, but strong leader on and off the field. Graduated high school early so that he can get a head start on attending the university. Had offers from Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota, Northwestern, Cincinnati, Boston College, Minnesota, Illinois, Akron, Bowling Green, and Kent State. Primary Recruiter- Bobby Engram
The real bottom line: Looked at as a savior by many Pitt fans and many thinks he could start as a true freshman. He could do that, but it's a long shot. The truth is, he needs to get a little stronger and he needs work on his mechanics. It also should be noted that no elite programs saw him as a quarterback prospect. But, he has the type of raw ability that a quarterback maven like Paul Chryst can really develop into a possible excellent signal caller down the road.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: Chapman is an excellent developmental prospect and will be a nice addition to add to Chad Voytik and the soon to arrive Chandler Kincade. None are superstar prospects, but any of them have a chance to be highly effective college quarterbacks under Chryst.
James Conner, McDowell HS (Erie, PA)- At 6'2" and 230 pounds, he's a big, tough runner with very good straight line speed at that size. Doesn't make a lot of moves, but he runs hard between the tackles. Once he breaks though the line, he utilizes his excellent speed with his quick, choppy steps. Was considered a defensive end prospect by most scouts but after a huge year of running the ball, the Panthers staff decided to try him at running back. Eligibility concerns and the fact that he doesn't fit perfectly at any position limited his offers,, but some who offered included Toledo, Bowling Green, Ohio, and Eastern Michigan. Primary recruiter- Joe Rudolph
The real bottom line- Don't be fooled by the offer list which was effected greatly by his academic concerns. He's still not eligible yet, but he's working hard on it. He's also a bit of a tweener which hurt his offers. Some think he's a little too small for end, not quick enough for linebacker, and a little big for running back. But this is a player who, if he can prove he can be a running back at the college level, has the chance to be very effective at running hard behind Pitt's massive line. The fact that he could move to defense is an added bonus because he has very good pass rush skills.
Jaymar Parrish, Gateway HS (Monroeville, PA)- High school tight end that projects to fullback because of his shorter 6'1" height. Athletic built at 235 pounds and good speed. Very good hands and blocker. Could also move over to linebacker. Other offer was from Akron. Primary recruiter- Chris Haering
The real bottom line- Athletic fullback who could also see time at H-Back thanks to his good receiving skills, as well as project nicely to linebacker. Nice addition and a great contrast to plodding old school fullbacks.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: The staff wasn't in desperate need for a starter halfback right off the bat, but the unit clearly needs depth and one more elite back. Unfortunately, the staff failed miserably here. Corey Clement de-committed months ago and the last ditch attempt to land JoJo Kemp was the final blow in landing the heir apparent to Rushel Shell. Parrish will not be a primary ball carrier and Conner will probably eventually end up on defense.
Tyler Boyd, Clairton HS (Clairton, PA)- One of the better wide receiver prospects in the east, he became a high school legend by leading the Bears to four straight state championships while scoring a WPIAL record 117 touchdowns. Thin at 6'1" and 168 pounds. He's never been a full-time wide receiver, but he clearly won't have a problem learning the position immediately. Has excellent speed, athleticism, and hands. Excellent with the ball in his hands and is also an exceptional return man. Had offers from Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, and others. Primary Recruiter- Bobby Engram
The real bottom line: Very reminiscent of former Woodland Hills, Michigan, and NFL star Steve Breaston. An excellent receiver/returner who was a must even before Robert Foster chose to go to Alabama. Could be all-star caliber.
Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette HS (McDonald, PA)- Wanted to be a Panther but originally committed to Toledo when he thought he didn't have a Pitt offer. Highly productive receiver on the high school level. A little thin but otherwise he has nice 6'2" 185 pound size. Quicker and faster than given credit for, but he's not considered an elite speed/athleticism kid. Excellent hands and makes a lot of circus catches. Young for his class and will begin his freshman season at Pitt as a 17-year old. Had offers from Temple and a handful of MAC schools. Primary Recruiter- Bobby Engram
The real bottom line: To be honest, this kid seems to be a little under recruited. He has better than average size and speed, and he has excellent hands. He's a football player so even if he doesn't star in college, he can help the program. Likely redshirt candidate and then a possible No.2 or No.3 receiver sometime in his future.
Reggie Green, Cranford HS (Cranford, NJ)- Dominating running quarterback at the high school level, but projects to a receiver, safety, or maybe even linebacker down the line. He'll likely start at wide receiver and could easily stay there. Solidly built at a muscular 6'3" and 210 pounds. Good speed with a current best of 11.58 100m. Speed is straight line and doesn't have elite quickness or elusiveness. Big hands. Has to learn the position. Good student who wants to major in criminal justice. Other offers came from Rutgers, Boston College, Michigan State, NC State, UCF, and Temple. Primary recruiter- Desmond Robinson
The real bottom line: He has great size, big hands, and very good speed, but to be honest it's apparent on tape that his lack of top elusiveness will probably prevent him from being a No.1 receiver. That's why despite his great size/speed combo, he didn't get elite offers. What's intriguing is if he can be convinced down the road to add 20 pounds and be a linebacker because that's where his size and speed combo could really pop.
Jester Weah, Madison Memorial HS (Madison, WI)- Big, strong 6'3" 190 pound body and very good athleticism. Very good straight line speed, but quickness and explosiveness are only adequate. Strong hands. Had offers from Colorado State, Wyoming, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, and Illinois State, among others. Primary recruiter- Joe Rudolph
The real bottom line: Raw athlete with size so he may be able to contribute down the line, but the reasons why he didn't get major offers is the same reason why it will be difficult for him to reach an all-star level.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: The unit desperately needed bodies, and big bodies especially, but there's not a No. 1 receiver in the bunch. Boyd has all-star potential as a slot receiver and return man, however, and Challingsworth, Green, and Weah at least have the potential to contribute in the future. But the amount of big time receivers the staff are going after in the '14 class shows they know they still have to improve the unit with higher end talent.
Devon Edwards, Eastmoor Academy (Columbus, OH)- Excellent 6'5" 240 pound size already. Strong blocker, but at best his speed and athleticism are average. Good hands and hard to bring down because of his natural strength and size. Solid blocker who should be better once he learns better technique. Other offers came from West Virginia, Nebraska, NC State, Purdue, Boston College, Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Toledo. Primary recruiter- Joe Rudolph
The real bottom line: Naturally big and strong but his ceiling at tight end is not high due to his lack of speed and athleticism. Why does he have a nice offer list despite obvious speed problems and a low recruiting service ranking? The truth is, kids in this size range are rare and because they can project to tight end, offensive line, and defensive line, they get a lot of offers. To be honest, I think that eventually he will be asked to gain weight and move to the offensive or defensive line because his lack of speed and athleticism is apparent, but if he doesn't, he could still help at tight end with his blocking and strength.
Tony Harper, St. John's HS (Toledo, OH)- Primarily played safety at St. John's, but he got an offer at the Pitt camp after being tried out at tight end. Too small for the position now, but is a rangy, 6'4" 195 pounds with the frame to add more weight. Long arms. Good quickness and athleticism. Speed is decent. He's expected to gain 40 pounds or so and eventually become a pass catching H-Back. Other offers came from Toledo, Akron, and Ohio. Primary recruiter- Matt House
The real bottom line: Let's be honest, he's a project and everything has to go right for him to be a major factor at tight end. But if he can add the weight and keep his speed and athleticism, than he could prove to be an effective H-Back in his last year or two.
Scott Orndoff, Seton-LaSalle HS (Pittsburgh, PA)- Great target at 6'6" and 250 pounds. He has the frame to get even bigger but he's such a great down the field pass catching threat that that's not really necessary. Has run the 100m in 11.6 seconds which is not only a phenomenal number for a player his size, but it faster than most receivers already on the roster. Great hands and runs well after the catch. Solid blocker with the ability to get much better once he concentrates on it. Committed to Wisconsin originally and was the first to commit to the Panthers this season way back in March. If it wasn't for those two things his offer list would have been even more impressive, though he still had offers from Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia, Boston College, and West Virginia. Primary recruiter- Joe Rudolph
The real bottom line: Players with this kind of size and skill set are rare, and in Chryst's tight end heavy system, he has the potential to be a big time college player.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: Edwards and Harper provide depth but it's Orndoff joining J.P. Holtz that makes the future very bright at this position.
Carson Baker, Fairborn HS (Fairborn, OH)- Great 6'5" 315 pound size. He's naturally big and doesn't have a sloppy physique. Huge upper body and strong. Feet aren't quick so he'll have to play inside. Once he latches on to you he will plant you. Other offers came from Toledo, Ohio, and Buffalo. Primary recruiter- Joe Rudolph
The real bottom line: He's the big, mauler type of lineman that Chryst likes. His lack of foot speed and athleticism may limit his ceiling somewhat, but he's a tough, hard working strong, nasty lineman that could develop into a solid player after a few years in the program.
Dorian Johnson, Belle Vernon Area HS (Belle Vernon, PA)- One of the best offensive line prospects in the country. Needs to get stronger, and at 278 pounds he needs to get much bigger, but his 6'6" height and quick feet are exceptional. Was much more raw before his senior season, but improved a lot this season and really showed that he could be a great one. Other offers came from Penn State, West Virginia, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Wisconsin, and many others. Primary recruiter- Joe Rudolph
The real bottom line- Ideally he's not big enough to play as a freshman, but he's talented enough that he may not only play, but he could start, too, possibly at guard where he won't be on an island in his first year. He has future all-star ability and I would be surprised if he doesn't reach that level.
Jaryd Jones-Smith, West Catholic HS (Philadelphia, PA)- A big offensive tackle at 6'7" and 310 pounds, and has the frame to add another 30 pounds. Moves very well and even wants to run track this season. Great wingspan. Raw, but young for his class and had a very good senior season. Other offers included Michigan, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Arizona, Virginia, and NC State. Primary recruiter- Jim Hueber
The real bottom line- An excellent late addition who is raw, but has everything it takes to turn into a really good college lineman down the line.
Alex Officer, Eastridge Senior HS (Rochester, NY)- Shorter than Chryst usually likes in his linemen at 6'3", but he's a bull strong 320 pounds. Excellent run blocker with quick feet and agility. Once he latches on to a defender, he often destroys him. Plays nasty. Projects as a guard or even center, though he played tackle in high school Other offers came from Louisville, Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College, UConn, and Purdue. Primary recruiter- Desmond Robinson
The real bottom line- Shorter than Chryst usually wants, but he's definitely big enough. In fact, two of the top 20 prospects in the upcoming draft are 6'3" guards and both are consensus All-Americans. Major programs aren't going to make a special stop to Rochester so he is very much under the radar. He's raw, but the more I watch this kid, the more I think he has the potential to be very good in a few years.
Aaron Reese, Chambersburg Area HS (Chambersburg, PA)- Has to put on a lot of weight but at 6'6" and 280 pounds, he has an actual frame to do that. Moves very well. Plays in an offense that is almost all running so he's much more advanced in the run game. Injuries have been a problem. Committed in April and had no other offers when doing so. Primary recruiter- Bobby Engram
The real bottom line- Under the radar kid that needs to gain at least 40 pounds while at Pitt, but he's 6'6" and he can move very well, so he could turn into a very good player down the road.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: Only Johnson can be considered elite, but the rest, especially Jones-Smith, Reese, and Officer have very good potential. It wasn't the amazing offensive line class that was dreamed of, but the unit was in desperate need of numbers and talent, and that was accomplished.
Tyrique Jarrett, Milford Academy (New Berlin, NY)- Former City League player at Allderdice who committed to last year's class before spending a year at Milford to get his grades up. Has benefitted greatly both on and off the field at Milford. Enrolled at Pitt in January. Giant 6'3" and 320 man child with nasty aggressiveness, brute strength, and quick feet. He had almost no chance to qualify last season and still got offers from not only Pitt, but also Cincinnati, UConn, and Temple. If grades weren't an issue, he would have had more and bigger offers. No primary recruiter from this staff since he committed last season and was merely told that they still had a spot for him.
The real bottom line- Big, nasty players that can move like him are rare. Perhaps the sleeper of the class and somebody with a lot of potential.
Luke Maclean, Grand Blanc HS (Grand Blanc, MI)- Tall, rangy kid with a frame to easily add on to his 6'4" 235 pound frame. Very good speed and runs a consistent, and confirmed, 4.7 in the 40. Highly energetic and makes plays all over the field. Very good combination of skills and can rush the passer. Offers included Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Kansas, and Indiana. Primary recruiter- Matt House
The real bottom line- Scouts in the midwest are amazed that this kid didn't get more major offers and to be honest so am I. Has a lot of potential with his size and speed, but he's also just a very good football player.
Justin Moody, George Washington HS (Philadelphia)- Probably will end up on the inside so he'll have to add weight to his current 6'3" and 265 pound frame. Raw, but very quick and occasionally explosive. Has to be more consistent because when he decides he wants to be dominant, he usually reaches that level. Other offers came from the likes of Purdue, Rutgers, Central Florida, Temple, and Syracuse. Primary recruiter- Jim Hueber
The real bottom line- If the staff can get him focused and he gains more strength and size, he could turn out to be a very good college player.
Shakir Soto, G.A.R. Memorial HS (Wilkes-Barre, PA)- Already has excellent 6'4" 245 pound size and has a slender athletic build that could add another 20 pounds of good weight. Very strong run defender but he has developed nice pass rushing skills this past season. Good student and very mature. Enrolled at Pitt in January. Committed back in April but still had offers from Virginia, Maryland, Boston College, and Temple. Primary recruiter- Brooks Bollinger
The real bottom line- High character kid who plays hard and has good size and athleticism. Because he enrolled early and is advanced both physically and mentally, he could possibly see time as a freshman.
Jeremiah Taleni, Kailua HS (Kailua, HI)- I'll be kind and say he's 6'1" and 320 pounds, but he began his senior season at over 340 pounds. The ability to keep his weight down will obviously be an issue. Shows good strength and moves well enough for his size. At one time Washington State and UMass offered, but both stopped recruiting him. A late offer from Nevada was his only other committable offer. Primary recruiter- Inoke Breckterfield
The real bottom line- A big kid who can move some for his big size, so he could help as a run stuffer some day. But he was well known by scouts in Hawaii, and the schools who recruit Hawaii kids, including the home university, had no interest in him, so you have to wonder if Pitt is just smarter than everybody else, or they are reaching.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: No obvious stars in the bunch, but numbers were badly needed and the staff definitely accomplished that. All five also have a high ceiling, especially Jarrett, Soto, Maclean, and Moody.
Matt Galambos, The Haverford School (Haverford, PA)- An amazing young man who was saved from a terrible childhood by his grandmother who legally took him away from his mother. He eventually ended up at the prestigious Haverford School where he has a 4.1 GPA and has offers from the likes of Harvard and Yale. Tough, relentless 6'2" and 225 pound young man that makes plays all over the field. A sleeper who many in his area consider to be the best player in that part of the state. Rutgers, Syracuse, and Temple also offered. Primary recruiter- Chris Haering
The real bottom line- Don't be fooled by the Ivy League offers, which was indicative of his academics, not his playing level. Not only is it great to have a kid like this in your program but he's also a really good football player who has everything it takes to excel in college football and life.
Zach Poker, Oconomowoc HS (Oconomowoc, WI)- Excellent athlete at 6'4" and 220 pounds. Most schools recruiting him wanted him as a tight end, where he excelled in high school, but the Panthers are looking at him for defense. A muscular, lean frame with the ability to add more weight so he could always move to defensive end in the future. Very good speed. Got a late offer from Syracuse, with other offers from the likes of Air Force, Army, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and North Dakota. Primary recruiter- Joe Rudolph
The real bottom line- Wasn't recruited heavily but he's an intriguing prospect due to his long frame and good speed.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: Both Galambos and Poker are interesting prospects that could turn out to be good college players, but it's amazing that the program still can't land even the occasional elite linebacker prospect.
Titus Howard, Clairton Area HS (Clairton, PA)- Tall, long athlete at 6'2" and 175 pounds. Very good speed and athleticism with great leaping ability. Part of the vaunted Calirton Bears dynasty so he knows how to be a winner. Can project at safety or cornerback. Also offered by UConn and Toledo. Primary recruiter- Bobby Engram
The real bottom line- Small school and Clairton kids often don't translate to college football well, but athletes like this alway have a chance to be good.
Rachid Ibrahim, The Avalon School (Gaithersburg, MD)- Slender 6'0" 170 pound safety that needs to add strength, but he has good speed and hits hard. Other offers came from Iowa, Boston College, Ohio, and East Carolina. Primary recruiter- Bobby Engram
The real bottom line- He doesn't jump out as somebody that will reach a star level at the college level, but he could at least provide depth down the road, while also having the ability to start later in his career.
Terrish Webb, Clairton Area HS (Clairton, PA)- Good speed, but more than quick than fast. Very good athlete. Could also project as a wide receiver. Other offers came from Toledo, Akron, Kent State, and Arkansas State. Primary recruiter- Bobby Engram
The real bottom line- Good athlete who could see time in the secondary in the future.
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: Let's be honest, this is not an overly impressive group on paper. They are all athletes and you can never discount an athlete, but a major program should land at least one top level defensive back recruit a year. The staff needs to do better at this position in '14.
Chris Blewitt, West Potomac HS (Alexandria, VA)- Small at just 5'10" and 175 pounds, but he has recently added size and strength. Strong leg on kickoffs. Performed great at Pitt's camp. Primary recruiter- Matt House
The real bottom line- People will have fun with his last name, but he will have the last laugh if he lives up to his ability.
Ryan Winslow, LaSalle College HS (Wyndmoor, PA)- Very big punter at 6'5" and 210 pounds. Good athlete. Can also placekick and kickoff, though he probably won't be asked to in college. Hasn't put up big averages as a punter but the frame and leg are there so he just needs to learn to maximum his talents. His father was a scholarship punter at Wisconsin before transferring to Villanova. Primary recruiter- Jim Hueber
IMPACT ON THE UNIT: A placekicker was needed immediately and Blewitt will have a chance to be the guy as a freshman. Winslow has potential but Kiski Area's Adam Mitcheson is a local '14 recruit that is better, and you have to wonder why Pitt didn't wait a year and go with him instead.
Bobby Engram (7)- Travon Chapman, Tyler Boyd, Zach Challingsworth, Aaron Reese, Titus Howard, Rachid Ibrahim, Terrish Webb.
Joe Rudolph (7)- James Conner, Jester Weah, Devon Edwards, Scott Orndoff, Carson Baker, Dorian Johnson, Zach Poker
Matt House (3)- Tony Harper, Luke Maclean, Chris Blewitt
Jim Hueber (3)- Jaryd Jones-Smith, Justin Moody, Ryan Winslow
Desmond Robinson (2)- Reggie Green, Alex Officer
Chris Haering (2)- Jaymar Parrish, Matt Galambos
Brooks Bollinger (1)- Shakir Soto
Inoke Breckerfield (1)- Jeremiah Taleni
Elite level- Dorian Johnson, Tyler Boyd, Scott Orndoff
Second level- Travon Chapman, James Conner, Jaymar Parrish, Jaryd Jones- Smith, Alex Officer, Aaron Reese, Luke Maclean, Shakir Soto, Justin Moody, Tyrique Jarrett, Matt Galambos, Chris Blewitt
Third level- Zach Challingsworth, Reggie Green, Jester Weah, Devon Edwards, Tony Harper, Carson Baker, Jeremiah Taleni, Austin Poker, Titus Howard, Rachid Ibrahim, Terrish Webb, Ryan Winslow
Summary- Dorian Johnson is the big fish this year, but Tyler Boyd, Travon Chapman, and Scott Orndoff also have the potential to be big time college players. But for the most part this was a class that was more for depth than elite level talent.
If the Panthers land classes like this every year and coach them well, they will probably be a 6-8 win team in most years. But it's the 2014 class that, in a way, will show how well this class was. If it's loaded with more elite prospects, then this 2013 class will be seen as a great move to add the foundation for teams that can occasionally be better than 6-8 wins a year.