Friday, August 16, 2013

The most important additions to the 2013-2014 season

Tom Savage, QB-  This is the most obvious, needless to say.  The rest of your team has to be amazingly talented to be able to win with a mediocre quarterback, and an excellent quarterback can make an otherwise ordinary team successful.  A lot has been said about Savage's vagabond college career, and there is a lot of apprehension because people fear he will be rusty after not playing for years.

But on the bright side, Savage is a full blown adult at 23-years old, and his body and mind should be further along than most college quarterbacks. And while it's true that he hasn't played a meaningful game in years, it's also true that he's at least been practicing the entire time.

His strong arm and big body, along with his maturity and Paul Chryst's great offensive mind, could mean that Savage may have a big year.  If he plays well and leads Pitt to a nice season he will have the added bonus of becoming a genuine NFL prospect.  Bottom line, while his career has been spotty, he can end it on a very high note.

James Conner, RB-  Just a true freshman, and not a highly recruited one at that, but the Erie native has tantalized with his straight line speed and 6'2" 230 pound frame.  He also has soft hands which helps in the passing game.

After Rushel Shell left, and tried to come back before being told no, the job became veteran Isaac Bennett's job to lose.  Bennett is solid, but it remains to be seen if he can be the main man. The fact that Bennett is also injury prone doesn't help much.

Big, between the tackle backs like Conner can do damage once they get past the line of scrimmage but if they can't make defenders miss then they are going to need a hole.  It remains to be seen whether or not Conner will need a lot of room to run, and with an offensive line that isn't expected to reach a high level yet that could prove to be a problem.

Bottom line, Conner has the highest upside of any back in the program so his development this season and beyond could go a long way in predicting Pitt's fortunes.

Tyler Boyd, WR-  I don't have to spend too much time on Boyd since every Pitt fan, especially those in the Pittsburgh area, knows all about one of the best WPIAL players to ever play.

There were reasons why some would think Boyd would start slowly in his college career. He didn't play much receiver at Clairton, he played against little competition in high school, and he's a skinny 6'2" 180 pounds.  But none of that has mattered.

Boyd will probably start at some point this season, maybe from the first game, and he could easily be a high impact player in the passing game, on sweeps, and in the return game.

Manasseh Garner, TE-  Sophomore J.P. Holtz will be the starter, but the redshirt junior who transferred back home after two seasons at Wisconsin may end up with more catches at the position.  Fast and built like a bull at 6'2" and 230 pounds, Garner can stretch the field like a receiver, but runs like a bruising running back.  Expect to see him catch a lot of passes and be on the field early and often.

Adam Bisnowaty, OT-  The program has clearly been desperate for talented offensive linemen for a few years now so the redshirt freshman from Fox Chapel HS couldn't arrive soon enough. He came to the program a little underweight and even more raw, but a year in the program has now done wonders. He's now a rock solid 6'6" 300 pounds and will utilize his good feet and agility at the crucial left tackle position.

The offensive line talent keeps getting better every year now that Chryst has arrived so he will have to perform well in the future to keep that left tackle spot, but he has the ability to play inside also in the future. Nobody how you look at it, he has the makings of a future all-conference performer.

David Durham, DE-  The high school defensive end was moved to fullback when he went to Ohio State, but after new coach Urban Meyer brought a new system in Durham decided to transfer to the Panthers.  After sitting out a year the redshirt junior has now moved back to where he fits best and he has quickly brought stability to the position.

Last year the end position was not playing at a high level and while it remains to be seen if the 6'1" 255 pound Durham can be a force, he has at least shown that he is solid, smart, and dependable. His presence already has made a difference.

Ejuan Price, DE-  After playing all 13 games as a true freshman, the 6'0" 230 pound redshirt sophomore missed all of last season because of an injury.  The Woodland Hills alum hasn't been able to find a position at the college level.  He's generally too small for end and his skills haven't been able to translate to linebacker.

Enter new defensive assistant John Palermo who brought his massive experience to the South Side this season.  Palermo has moved Price back to end where he can use his pass rushing skills, something the defense needs with neither Durham or the other defensive end starter Bryan Murphy showing elite pass rushing skills yet.

Tweeners like Price can go either way.  If he ends up overcoming his lack of size for the position and uses his speed and natural pass rushing skills to become an elite pass rusher, the defense will be significantly better.

Mike Caprara, LB-  Another Woodland Hills alum, the redshirt freshman was only wanted by the Panthers when he came out of high school, despite being an excellent high school player.  Size was the issue as Caprara was only 6'0" and just shy of 200 pounds.  But after one season he is now up to 220 pounds.  While he probably can't get too much bigger than that, middle linebackers in a 4-3 can play at that size in college.  With his good speed, athleticism, toughness, and natural football skills he has already become a fan favorite before even taking a snap.  Time will tell if he deserves that love.

Bam Bradley, LB- A big star in Ohio as a safety, but he never really had the speed or athleticism for the position in college.  That's not a bad thing, though, because the 6'0" 230 pound Bradley added some weight and now has the chance to be a major contributor at linebacker, a position that the Panthers are desperate to upgrade and where his speed and athleticism fits much better.

It was rumored that Bradley would transfer prior to this season, but if he can continue to improve he would make for a great comeback story.

Trenton Coles, CB-  A devastating leg injury ended his high school career, and combining with his rawness and lack of size, it was believed that it may take a few years of college before he could contribute at all. He's still only 175 pounds at the most, but he has great 6'3" length for the position and blazing speed.  Now the redshirt freshman is the top cornerback reserve behind Lafayette Pitts and K'Waun Williams. Expect him to see the field a lot this season and the defense will be helped greatly if he can contribute.

Chris Blewitt, PK-  Because of the high pressure of the position, you wouldn't expect a true freshman kicker to do well, but the truth is, there are a long line of excellent freshmen kickers in college football history.  That bodes well for the Panthers since Blewitt will get the call this season.  He has the ability to be a good one and for a team that probably won't be blowing people out, his ability to be successful is extremely crucial.

68 comments:

  1. nice review
    Do you assume DJ will redshirt?

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    Replies
    1. Still up in the air. It would be good news if he did.

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  2. You forgot a biggie, addition by subtraction: nary a mention of Tino Sunseri, who Thank All that Is Holy, finally exhausted his college eligibility!

    He can no longer dupe a seemingly endless series of college coaches to play him in games -- where composure matters -- based on his performace in practice (where nobody was trying to rip his head off and slobber down his neck hole).

    ABT!

    H2P!

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    1. Good grief it's time to let it go and move on. We all know what you think about Tino and his underwhelming career. This blog post is about the current group of players. If you wish to continue to discuss Tino you should take it to a Saskatchewan Roughriders blog.

      -BostonsCommon

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    2. Kidding aside, is Tino the Great in the CFL with Saskatch? I hadn't heard that (if it's true...).

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    3. http://www.riderville.com/roster/show/id/6263

      All kidding aside, it's really just time to move on. This is a new team, with a new coach, in a new conference and they're really trying to build something the right way. No more Tino talk, no more excuses.

      BostonsCommon

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  3. When Price is at defensive end/linebacker, are the Panthers playing what could be considered a 3-4 front seven? With McDonald expected to be double teamed a good bit of the time is Price going to play on his side of the line and become, for lack of a better example, a Steeler type linebacker?

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  4. who is McDonald ????

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  5. What about Matt Galambos? He seems to be a player.

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  6. What about the addition of that great Defensive Coordinator that was wanted by every other D-I program in the country but chose Pitt over the dozens of other offers that he probably received????

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  7. The reporting focus by the beat writer from the PG is virtually entirely on the offense (as might be expected after a scrimmage with 5 TDs scored) Hueber is quoted as saying he might RS DJ if he can but it depends on whether the other 3 OTs (Clemmings, Hollins and Bisnowaty) stay healthy enough that DJ doesn't need to be used.

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  8. Running through the names, it is pretty apparent that the ranks of Pitt players is slowly but steadily improving.

    Smart personnel decisions are also part of the equation.

    Notably, TJ Clemmings moving to offense where his size and raw ability has relegated the much ballyhooed Dorian Johnson to the sideline.

    I fully expect his performance this year to show Clemmings to be not only a solid NFL prospect but possible future draft pick.

    Something else evident is the first proof of Chryst and Hueber's ability to eye diamonds in teh rough.

    For those who haven't seen him in action, lightly-recruited redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts is showing himself to be an absolutely beast when it comes to the physical requirements of playing offensive line at the D-1 level.

    Sorry to disappoint the naysayers, but things are trending up under Chryst at least from a football player perspective.

    Of course, it remains to be seen if it's going to translate this year into wins.

    With solid play from the quarterback position and a smooth coaching transition on defense, it will happen.

    PittofDreams

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  9. So, what you're saying is that Chryst has been a masterful recruiter who has, since he has been here, reeled in:

    QB Savage (Starter)
    QB Voytik (Future Starter)
    QB Chapman (High upside FR)

    Grade A-

    RB Shell (Would have started)
    RB Conner (Might start. Sounds like there is some upside)
    RB Ibrahim
    RB Parrish

    Grade C+

    WR Boyd (Will probably start. High upside)
    WR Wuestner (Walk-on with some upside)
    WR Challingsworth
    WR Weah
    WR Green

    Grade B

    TE Garner (High upside)
    TE Holtz (Starter. High upside)
    TE Orndorff (High upside)
    TE Edwards
    TE Harper

    Grade A

    OT Bisnowaty (Starter. High upside)
    OT Johnson (High upside)
    OT Guy (Overachieving 6'7" Walk-on)
    OT Jones-Smith (Project)

    Grade A-

    OG Reese
    OG Baker

    Grade C+

    C Roberts (Underrecruited. Possible diamond in the rough)
    C Officer

    Grade: B

    DE Durham (Starter)
    DE Soto (High upside)
    DE MaClean

    Grade C+

    DT Render (Freshman Contributor)
    DT Jarrett (High upside)
    DT Moody
    DT Taleni

    Grade C+

    LB Bradley (Contributor. High upside)
    LB Cabrera (Contributor)
    LB Porchia
    LB Galambos
    LB Poker

    Grade B

    CB Coles (Contributor)
    CB Parhdner (Freshman Contributor)
    CB Webb

    Grade B

    S Lewis (Contributor)
    S J Pitts
    S Howard

    Grade B

    K Blewitt
    P Winslow

    Grade TBD

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  10. I think this group has some potential, enough to surprise if they play to the higher end of it. My main concerns are regarding the lack of depth at almost every position. What happens if Street goes down, or one of the tackles, or any of the linebackers? It's not a surprise given how many people have left the program. The team is already young, and it will look even younger if basically anyone goes down.

    About the only area with legit depth is D tackle, and maaaybe the secondary.

    -BostonsCommon

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  11. at the moment, all of those grades above are meaningless. I mean someone has to start and contribute at each position on any team.

    While Pitt is playing Pitt, grades are irrelevant. Now, once the season gets going, we'll see how they grade out.

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  12. More quality OL depth than Pitt has had this century.

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  13. Health will be pretty crucial this season. First with the O-line and then in the interior with Donald and Ezell. I do expect a lot of younger guys to play, so there will be some growing pains.

    I also feel the offense should move the football with a senior quarterback and the tight ends. The trio of tight ends should be very effective.

    Pitt has to be beat New Mexico, Duke, ODU and Virginia in the first part of the schedule. That will give the team a chance for a bowl game. The key games are the back-to-backs of Navy/Georgia Tech and Syracuse/North Carolina. Pitt has split both or win two and take three of four. Cold weather for Carolina would help.

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  14. Ridiculous at this point to assign grades to the multitude of players who haven't hit the field.

    However, it does make sense to highlight specific players based on availaable information... especially those for whom you prevoiusly predicted the outcome as we now see it playing out.

    For example... Clemmings starting and Johnson being relegated to the bench.

    PittofDreams

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    Replies
    1. Because Anony above has an agenda by ranking the players who have yet to hit the field.
      Note the conclusion.

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    2. The 'Grade TBD' was in reference to the kicker and punter. Actually, if he was consistent with the other criteria, he should have graded Blewitt an A-

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    3. Or, he should have Graded all of them "TBD".
      It is what it is.

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  15. Look for Pitt's offense this year to roll up some yards the old fashioned way. Running over people.

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  16. Chris, what's your opinion on the overall "team speed"? Since the ACC is much more skill & speed compared to the BE, are we going to be able to keep up with the league as a whole, or will this be reminiscent of DW's halftime comment of the WVU game in his first season?

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    Replies
    1. I wouldn't call them a fast team yet but in the last two recruiting classes they've added some really fast players so hopefully they're getting there.

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  17. I'm not sure that Robert Foster did the right thing in going to Alabama. Not saying he should have chosen Pitt instead, but like the article says, he could be starting or getting some significant playing time at about 90% of Division I schools.

    http://www.rantsports.com/ncaa-football/2013/08/14/alabama-crimson-tide-could-redshirt-top-wr-recruit-robert-foster/

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    1. Tough to blame Foster for choosing Alabama, but he could have seen time on the field with Pitt this season while being the team's punt returner, which could be a weakness.

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    2. I would bet that Foster will transfer to Pitt before the end of his four years.

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  18. I think foster will play at Bama as he is very talented. Just not right away. I think like Shell, that ship has sailed and HCPC is open to transfers, but that press conference killed his relationship with Pitt.

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    1. I actually don't recall Foster putting down Pitt (maybe he did) .... but it's good that PC isn't as sensitive as many of the fans, or Thomas would have been long gone

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  19. News that Robert Foster looks to be experiencing a challenging introduction to 'Bama football is... well... surprising.

    Surprising in that when it comes to evaluating a player's potential to be a star, we tend to only view things in terms of their physical ability rather than the mental or psychological aspect.

    Everyone knows Foster is a special talent. Unless he's being hindered by some unkown injury, the fact that he seems to be having a minimal impact at freshmen camp would suggest it is more mental.

    Could it be immmaturity?

    Based upon all the drama surrounding his puzzling tearful public commitment to Pitt then decommitment and change to Alabama... it certainly is reasonable to think it a possibility.

    On the other hand, Tyler Boyd heading for a starting position at Pitt looks to be mature beyond his years.

    It seems in the sweepstakes that was Robert Foster vs Tyler Boyd, Pitt may have come away the winner for getting the player it really needed.

    PittofDreams

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    Replies
    1. Or it could be that Alabama has a hellava lot of good WR's on their roster that are not freshman and have played in the system for at least 1 year.

      Pitt on the otherhand, doesn't have WR depth which is why Boyd, who has NO experience at WR in HS, can come in and start at Pitt purely on athletic ability.

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    2. That's pretty much it, to be honest. Foster has the ability to play this year and if he does redshirt it's only because they have very talented older players. Foster is expected to play a lot next year when there are less veterans.

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    3. Just to clarify....

      Before writing the comment above, I did check to see if Foster is getting his name mentioned on any of the Alabama blogs covering preseason camp.

      Other wide receivers are getting recognized, including freshmen. Nothing about Foster as far as I was able to see.

      Even if he is destined for a redshirt due to a plethora of talented receivers, I would think he would be getting at least some recognition if he was doing anything to stand out in practice.

      PittofDreams

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    4. This link paints him in a pretty good light.

      http://www.al.com/alabamafootball/index.ssf/2013/08/alabama_practice_report_in_fir.html

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    5. Sounds like sour grapes to me. He didn't go to Pitt, move on.

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    6. There is a story on CBSSports online about the Alabama WRs, calling them the best group of receivers at Bama ever.
      'Nuff said

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    7. Sour grapes? I think I said that in the end it looks like Pitt ended up with the player they needed.

      Also believe I mentioned that "everyone knows Foster is a spacial talent."

      As for the posted link, saw that one. Saying Foster looks good in shorts does not equate to him having a good preseason camp with the pads on.

      Bottom line... all the signs suggest Tyler Boyd to be a really mature talented kid who's ready to answer the bell... which is exactly what Pitt needed.

      Pitt of Dreams

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  20. Pitt now has 5 Graduate Assistants in Football.
    NCAA max is 4.
    Did a GA get promoted to "coach"?
    Was the "coach" title removed from Robinson to allow that to happen?

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  21. Kind of frightening when these freshman with little position experience can come in and beat out someone who has been on the team. And how do we expect to play with FSU? Only by an act of God!

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  22. I follow Alabama football. They have a very good group of receivers led by Amari Cooper. Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell are seniors and good ball players, Chris Black, who took a redshirt last year, is supposed to be real good. They have started frosh stars in the past (Amari Cooper most recently), They have a lot of depth at the position this year and it would be tough for Foster to see playing time, but, if he was that great he would be playing just like Cooper did last year and he also apppears to last on the depth chart, even behind fellow frosh recruit Raheem Falkins! So, it's hard to say at this point what his future will hold, but he doesn't look like the super star receiver he was made out to be by the various recruiting services. And don't forget, it isn't like they're going to stop recruiting WR, good chance they'll land an even better one next year, which will make it harder on him still. Doesn't look like his career is going the way he envisioned it and he'll have a hard time being a star down there, especially with thei run first approach.

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    Replies
    1. A couple weeks into summer camp and you've come to the conclusion that his career isn't going the way he envisioned it?
      smh
      Perhaps part of the problem is that he spent April, May, June and July re-taking courses, SAT, etc to get through clearinghouse. He couldn't even get a playbook, do much conditioning, etc. I expect him to redshirt just to adjust to college life.

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  23. When comparing him to Amari Cooper, there is no comparison. Cooper's A much better receiver. Foster may go on to have a good college career, but he's not the super star you and others made him out to be. You were wrong, deal with it.

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  24. anyones thoughts on Temple offering all 4 from Quip? and any chance Pitt could do that? seems like they already have a lot of commitments to be able to do something like that

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    Replies
    1. That is the problem these days.
      Elite players are doing package deals. I think Henry is playing some team off on another (Temple) to get his friends offers. I don't like it but it is a trend these days.
      Last year, it was Clairton 3 for 1 (Boyd). The other 2 are not BCS D1 players.
      Prior to that, it was Woody Layfayette Pitts 2 for 1. Jevonte's only offer was Pitt albeit he ended up going prep.

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    2. Joe D,

      I know you're not a member of Pantherlair but to say that the two Clairton players aren't BCS caliber is ridiculous.

      Both Titus Howard and Terrish Webb are running with the second teams during practice. They have a lot of talent but you're incredibaly biased.

      Delete

  25. Ray Graham...Houston Texan Running Back...

    6 carries for 32 yards and one TD. Not bad.

    PittofDreams

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  26. Chris,

    Have you heard anything regarding Pitt's basketball recruiting trail? Have the addition of Barry "Slice" helped at all? Is JD doing more recruiting himself? Have you heard if they've tried to re-establish a recruiting presence in NYC? I personally think it's only a matter of time before the ACC tournament is held at MSG annually.

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    Replies
    1. They've been very aggressive and the prospects are responding a lot. They've definitely changed how they do things.

      Delete
  27. I actually don't recall Foster putting down Pitt (maybe he did) Saying he wanted to go to a program that competes for a NC is not putting down Pitt as much as telling recruits Pitt isn't the place to fulfill your dreams. In that light, Pitt and HCPC can't appreciate a recruit making them look like a second class program. Whether true or not, he made HCPC's job just a bit harder and don't think he is not pleased with that statement.

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  28. Anybody else think Ejaun Price is next Zeke Gadson?

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  29. You know how bad it is on defense when Howard and Webb are working their way to the two deep.

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    Replies
    1. It's only because of some temporary injuries.

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    2. Both are actually making plays. I'm not saying we should have 2 more freshmen start this year or even be on the two deep, but to say they don't have talent or were only offered because of Boyd is proving to be untrue.

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  30. Seem like we are having above average injuries this training camp or is PC just being extra cautious?

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  31. Chris, Pitt has offered two QB in next year's class is that because they are thinking they might lose Chapman? Do you offer a QB a year not two??

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Next year's QB depth chart is Voytik and (hopefully) Chapman. You gotta have at least 4 guys so getting 2 this year is imperative (and even more so if Chapman can't come back).

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    3. Are you referring to Freebeck and Bertke in this years class? If so, Pitt clearly needs bodies at the position. After this season, the only QBs on the roster will be Voytik and MAYBE Chapman. I don't even really consider Trey Anderson an option. I think I'd rather put Boyd there if it came down to that.

      If you are referring to 2015, who are the 2 QBs you eluded to? I would actually welcome another class with 2 QBs. I know at least 1 would likely transfer out after a year or two, but I'm fine with that. Chryst needs to restock the cupboard and create some competition at the position.

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    4. You should always bring in at least one but Pitt obviously will be a little undermanned at the position after this year so they needed to add two. QBs tend to transfer a lot because if you can't play another position and you aren't starting, you have to leave to play. And you don't want to be stuck with not enough QBs because if you only have one who is good and he gets hurt, you're pretty much screwed that season.

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  32. An addendum to the discussion regarding Robert Foster vs Tyler Boyd.

    According to today's Trib Review... maturity does look to be a key factor with Boyd...

    ********

    ... freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd is getting close to winning a job. “Tyler brings great maturity to us, great work ethic,” Chryst said.

    (Devin)Street said he is amazed at Boyd's progress. “He is just a smart kid and he's hungry, too. He is definitely going to be an asset for our offense. You need the maturity level to be out there because you are going against grown men.”

    ********

    PittofDreams

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    Replies
    1. Dude, let it go. Pitt has no WR's compared to Alabama. Of course Boyd has a better chance to start. A redshirt is not a bad thing.

      Delete
  33. This is how Urban Meyer recruits.
    Very cool!!!

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/urban-meyer-now-sending-personalized-puzzles-recruiting-tools-105100911.html

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  34. Chris,
    What do you think of how Pitt is handling Chapman, kicking it all the way up to Nordenberg, with SP presenting his case?

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    1. I'm surprised they are even considering letting him back. It pays to be a talented quarterback.

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    2. I'm not sure I understand that comment. I think him being a talented quarterback is actually hurting him here. I don't think the average Pitt student would get kicked out of school for something that happened outside of campus in another city. I knew kids at Pitt that had run ins with the law and never missed a day of school because of it.

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    3. You're comparing him to the average student and I was comparing him to other athletes. I think we all know that if Chapman was the third string safety he would already be playing at Cal U.

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