With the current Pitt football staff recruiting a lot of 2 and 3 star caliber prospects, a lot of fans are saying that's good enough and that elite prospects often fail anyway. It remains to be seen if getting mostly 3 star players will be enough for Paul Chryst to have success, but life without elite prospects would have made the Pitt football look a lot different over the last 40+ years. Here is a list of some of the best Pitt players ever, who also happened to be elite prospects at the time they came to Pitt.
Tony Dorsett- One of the best college players ever and an NFL Hall of Famer.
Dan Marino- Hall of Famer and one of the best quarterbacks in history.
LeSean McCoy- Currently one of the biggest stars in the NFL and a possible future Hall of Famer.
Larry Fitzgerald- Maybe the best wide receiver in college football history and a definite future Hall of Famer.
Tyler Palko- Very successful career at Pitt.
Rod Rutherford- Same as Palko.
Craig Heyward- Big college star and an All-American.
Tyler Boyd- Current star and possible future All-American.
Aaron Donald- He was not lowly rated as is often reported. One of Pitt's best players ever.
Jonathan Baldwin- First round draft pick.
Dorin Dickerson- All-American.
Jeff Otah- First round draft pick.
Jason Pinkston- Good college player who also started in the NFL.
Bill Fralic- Maybe the best college offensive lineman of all-time.
Mark Stepnoski- All-American and NFL All-Pro.
Ruben Brown- All-American and NFL All-Pro. Probably future Hall of Famer.
Keith Hamilton- All-American and successful NFL career.
Tom Tumulty- Very successful college career on some awful teams.
Curtis Martin- Hall of Famer and one of the best NFL running backs ever.
Bottom line, do all elite prospects pan out? Of course not. And likewise a lot of lesser rated players turn into stars. And I have no doubt that Chryst and his staff will turn less heralded prospects into elite college players. On the other hand, it's extremely difficult to win big without exceptionally talented prospects, too. Last season, Pitt's best two players- Boyd and Donald- were elite prospects. That's not a coincidence. More players of that caliber are needed if Pitt ever wants to be considered a national power. Without enough of those players Pitt could still be a good program, but an excellent program would probably be out of the question.