Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Who the new Pitt staff is looking out

This is obviously a very fluid list, but here is who the new Pitt staff is showing interest in for this class and beyond so far.

Quarterback: With Alex Hornibrook de-committed, the Panthers are in pursuit of at least one quarterback. I suspect that offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will go all out for a big time quarterback  in '16, but for now he's trying to add depth with somebody that also has a chance to develop into a possible starter down the road. The Quad A state player of the year Ben DiNucci is the player that many have wondered about for months. He's 6'3" so he's big enough, he has amazing accuracy and touch, and he's been unbelievably productive against some of the best talent in high school. Offensive coordinate Jim Chaney worked him out yesterday and then offered him. Even though he is committed to Penn he will visit the Panthers soon. Other than DiNucci, no other quarterbacks have been made public yet but it's safe to say that Chaney is looking at others.

Running Back: The unit is pretty loaded right now so it's not surprising that the staff hasn't been looking at anybody- at least that we know of. In the '16 class, I suspect the staff will try for a big timer. Those kinds of running backs want to start right away and Pitt could sell them on taking over for James Conner, who presumably will go to the NFL after next year. Of course Chris James and Darrin Hall are still on the roster but they won't be returning starters so a new running back can be convinced that he can start right away.

As for '16, one of the first players that Narduzzi followed on Twitter was Woodland Hills star Miles Sanders, but Sanders seems to be obsessed with Penn State, who he committed to many months ago. But the Nittany Lions are loading up on elite running backs, so you never know if he may want to look around. His high school teammate, Jo-El Shaw, was offered by the previous staff, and I'm guessing that he will be offered by the new staff, too. He's already built like an NFL player and could be a very good addition. Aliquippa's Kaezon Pugh is a big time talent and I personally always thought that he would end up at Pitt. With the new staff I am even more confident of it. He could also project as a linebacker  so it will be interesting to see which way he goes.

Wide Receiver: Adonis Jennings recently transferred and outside of Tyler Boyd, who will probably go the the NFL after next season, there are a lot of question marks. The Panthers recently offered 6'3" 215 pound Tavin Richardson of South Carolina, and are interested in 6'1" 175 pound Dallas native Kedarian Jones. Neither are speed demons but Richardson has great size and Jones catches everything in sight, many of them in an acrobatic fashion. Today the Panthers offered Florida Atlantic commit Jawuan Harris, who at 5'10" and 185 pounds is a slot receiver.

In 2016 the staff will need to add a big time wide receivers class, and that may include Clairton big receiver Aaron Matthews. I'd be very surprised of the Panthers don't eventually land him. CJ Riley of Florida is another 6'4" receiver that the Panthers will target.

Tight End: As long as Nate Bowers stays with his Pitt commitment the unit will be good for the foreseeable future, but expect the staff to try to add another big timer in '16 even if Bowers sticks. If he doesn't stick then it will obviously be much more important. Look for Woodland Hills TE Stephen Puhl to be a big target in '16.

Offensive Line: This is a pretty loaded unit for the staff at the moment, so much so that the new staff turned their back on former recruit Rob Dowdy, who has major offers. New offensive line coach John Peterson started following local prospect Tyler Hudanick, even though he recently committed to Central Florida. Hudanick is a mauler who I've also liked so we will see if Pitt tries a late steal with him.

In 2016, local Brandon Ford should be a target and in 2017 Josh Lugg of North Allegheny and Robert Hainsey of Gateway will be huge targets. Narduzzi already follows Lugg and Hainsey on twitter.

Defensive Line: Showing that the new staff gets it, this is one of the more suspect units on the team and they are hitting it hard in recruiting. Philadelphia defensive end Shareef Miller is the big prize this year and the Panthers have to battle Penn State, Arizona State, and Florida to get him. He visited under the previous staff, and he loved Pitt, but he tends to love everywhere he goes so it's hard to tell exactly where Pitt stands. He also said great things about the new staff and has met new defensive line coach Tom Sims, who he really likes, and today he is scheduled to meet Narduzzi.

Purdue commit Eddy Wilson was recruited to the Boilermakers by new Pitt WR coach Kevin Sherman so a switch to the Panthers may be in the cards. At 6'4" and 265 pounds, the tackle is very quick and aggressive. So is Florida native Brian Bembry, who new defensive coordinator Josh Conklin was recruiting at FIU. He has not committed to anybody and will visit Pittsburgh soon.

The staff will also check out big Aliquippa defensive tackle Arrington Gipson, who at 6'3" and 300 pounds certainly has the size. Florida native Shawn Curtis has good size at 6'3" and 250 pounds, and he recently visited the Panthers. He was recruited previously by both the past Pitt staff and Conklin and Hardy at FIU. He is being recruited as an end.

In 2016, the Panthers will be all over two elite national recruits in 6'4" 240 pound Khalid Kareem, and 6'1" 250 pound Malik Barrow. Kareem is from Michigan and he recently visited Pittsburgh. The Pitt staff wants him very much. The same goes with the Florida native, Barrow. Expect the staff to go all out on both.

Inside the state, 6'4" 250 pound Philadelphia end Karamo Dioubate will be a national recruit and while the new staff hasn't been connected to him yet, consider it a sure thing that they will go after him hard.

At tackle, 6'3" 280 pound Ohio native Jake Saunders already holds a new offer from the Pitt staff and his aggressiveness falls in line with what Narduzzi is clearly looking for.

Linebacker: This is another unit that needs an influx of top talent, and luckily for the Panthers I see new LB coach Rob Harley as a potential ace recruiter. The unit can get better in a real hurry if they can land 6'2" 200 pound Ohio native Anthony McKee, and 6'2" 205 pound New Jersey native Salem Brightwell. Both will be hard gets because the competition is tough, and both may beed a year to get bigger and stronger, but both also have a lot of potential because they can fly. Another offer just today went out to 6'2" 205 pound Florida linebacker Adrienne Talan who originally committed to Oregon State, but opened up his recruitment again after Mike Riley went to Nebraska.

In 2016, expect Harley to try for the best linebackers he can get. Kentucky commit Roland Walder is somebody that Pitt may try to flip. Ohio linebacker Griffin Grady is only 6'2" and 200 pounds but he's a tough football player. The previous staff offered him but the new staff appears to be interested, too.

Defensive Backs: The new staff is adding to this unit a lot since the new defense will require a special kind of cornerback. One of the better ones the new staff has gotten involved with is 6'1" 185 pound Florida cornerback Kenyatta Anderson. He has the size, speed, and tenacity to fit in very well in Narduzzi's defense. Another Florida corner, Trenard Davis, also has good athleticism and 6'0" 190 pound size.

At safety, PA stars Jay Stocker and Johnny Petrishen have been involved with Pitt all year, and the new staff has continued to put the full court press on both. If the Panthers can land both, that would be huge for the position. Syracuse commit Marquise Blair is somebody that the staff appears to be trying to flip.

Two locals, cornerback Damar Hamlin, and safety Khaleke Hudson, will be major Panther targets in 2016, and of course in 2017 there is cornerback Lamont Wade and safety Paris Ford. With Conklin coaching safeties, former longtime NFL cornerback Renaldo Hill coaching the corners, and Narduzzi a defensive backs master, this unit has the potential to be amazing if they simply keep the locals at home.



26 comments:

  1. Thanks for the info. My understanding is that this year's class will most likely be small in number due to limited scholarships (unless a lot of kids leave the program unexpectedly). Any idea how many they kids are looking to get in 2015? Also, will a lot of scholarships be available in 2016?

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised if they added 8-10 kids in this class. Of course that depends on how many want to come. They can't be reaching. As for next, year, it's too soon to say. You never know who leaves.

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    2. Petrishen is a kid I would hope they could land. Outside of Hall, Whitehead, Paulina and Bowers, there isn't a whole lot to this year's class that Duzz and staff would shed any tears over if the went elsewhere.

      Mike W.

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    3. The way they are making offers, I think they would be thrilled to land 10. Let's not forget, there is dead wood on this roster from many of Chryst's reaches - and maybe some of them see the handwriting on the wall and will move on freeing up some spots

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    4. CD: Do you mean 8-10 more to the 10 commits they already have? Or 8-10 total?

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    5. Pitt sits at 10 verbals and currently have 16 scholarships to give with Devin Cook's departure soon from the program. He's heading to James Madison or Richmond for sure. Other names I don't expect to see on the roster in 2015: Weah, Wuestner, Price, Poker, Jacob Craig, Porchia.

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    6. I could see Wuestner, Price (constantly injured), Poker (also constantly injured). I don't think they ask Weah to leave the program because they're already thin at WR and he at least can run.

      Mike W.

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    7. @AnonymousJanuary 20, 2015 at 9:15 PM

      Weah isn't going anywhere.

      Wuestner was a walkon to begin with. Even if Narduzzi pulls his ship, I don't expect him to leave the team.

      I know RS Senior often get shown the door if they aren't going to play... But Price is a program guy at this point. Just like Artie. I don't know if they cut him lose?

      Is Craig even on Scholarship?

      Any reason why you say Poker and Porchia won't return?

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    8. Honestly with Officer playing the majority of the snaps last season, I can't see bringing Rowell back because he already burned a redshirt so I don't know that he has any eligibility left anyway.

      Guys like Devin Cook probably are gone as well. If they're offering as many as 8-10 as Cgris is stating, they're either pulling offers or they have players leaving.

      Mike W.

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    9. Devin Cook, Trey Anderson, Ronald Jones are all gone.

      I would also not be surprised to see 4 or 5 more go. Possibilites IMO include

      Weah - he was a Wisconsin kid reach, has not shown he can catch the ball

      Wuestner -

      Talani - another big reach. Only thing is Pitt is thin at DL - but if the new staff is able to sign a few guys, he could be told Aloha

      Mike Capara - another reach who would be better off going to a smaller school to play

      Zach Poker, Hez Trahan, Devin Porchia, Jacob Craig - just look at all the LBs / DEs the new staff is trying to recruit

      Nothing against these kids - just that some may be better off going to a smaller school where there is more of an opportunity to play for them

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    10. If I only had a dollar for every time a Pitt fan disagreed with me when I said Weah and Talani wouldn't turn into much.

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    11. PittMav, all the kids you list fall into the Wisconsin philosophy of recruiting, meaning you find these NR-2 star kids and develop them. It works at UW because they have depth and can wait three years for a kid to be able to contribute, doesn't work here where you don't have the depth at every position.
      Capara was an attempt to open WPIAL recruiting pipelines, I agree he should probably be playing at the 1-AA level.

      Mike W.

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    12. Talani actually showed some spark in the last few games. Both he and Moody. And to answer some of the other questions - Wuester and Craig are on scholarship. Weah just doesn't appear to be a football player and wasn't brought in by this staff. He was a reach to begin with. Poker was a reach too. Two surgeries already in two years. Maybe he's just not cut out for D-1 football.

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  2. Since they are recruiting nationally two guys MSU offered I hoped coach Duzz would offer. Anree Saint-Amour (DE) and Fotu Leiato (S) both athletic FREAKS, long shots but WOW! Fotu looks exactly like Polamalu built like him runs like him.

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  3. The fact that the previous administration did not land Dravon Henry and Montae Nichaelson still sticks in my gut... Those two both played significant minutes. The Pitt entire defensive backfield is extremely limited. Also, the LB's need some serious upgrades. Will be watching closely.

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    1. The key words in your post are "previous administration". From what I've seen so far, Narduzzi and his staff are much more aggressive recruiters, and I'd be willing to bet Nicholson and Henry would be at Pitt if the current staff were in place back then.

      However, we can't live in the past, and I think there is good reason to be optimistic about Narduzzi and his staff. They seem to really enjoy recruiting, and I think they'll know what to do with the kids they land.

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  4. Glad to see Pitt offer DiNucci.

    With the HUGE Numbers he had this year he must have SOMETHING.

    But Bertke remains the much BETTER Prospect... and not just because of the difference in Height.

    PittofDreams

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    1. POD,

      Are Bertke's uncle or godfather or something? You been beating that drum to death all year.

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    2. Mr./Ms. Anonymous... Just beating this drum until next year.

      After Bertke gets an opportunity to showcase what he can do, the rest of the Fan Base will do it for me.

      PittofDreams

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    3. He'll be playing behind Voytik.

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  5. So says the QB Guru.

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    1. Also the Runningback Guru, the Offensive Tackle Guru... the list goes on.

      PittofDreams

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  6. One name not mentioned - Tyree Jackson, QB from Muskegon Mona Shores, Michigan. Hope Pitt locks him up. Chaney went to visit him yesterday and he is supposed to visit campus this weekend I believe

    This kid is way underrated. Committed to Buffalo early. If he played for one of the more well known name schools in Michigan, he would be highly touted. He was a 4 year starter at QB and helped turn around a "bottom feeder program into a state title contender"

    Put him on Brother Rice instead of Malzone and this kid would have a laundry list of offers

    Check out his tape on HUDL. He was also one of the 5 finalists for Michigan player of the year

    http://highschoolsports.mlive.com/news/article/-1907775502755045731/michigan-high-school-football-player-of-the-year-final-5-selected-winner-announced-on-dec-13/

    http://highschoolsports.mlive.com/news/article/-3401715942869029798/player-of-the-year-top-10-four-year-quarterback-tyree-jackson-makes-the-grade-at-mona-shores/

    http://highschoolsports.mlive.com/news/article/8428678169211093224/tyree-jackson-of-mona-shores-wins-muskegons-dream-team-player-of-the-year/

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  7. Looks like Woodland Hills has another strong class (three kids on this report). Stephen Puhl TE has a lot of big schools and Ivy schools following him on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Notre Dame's Rivals reporter tweeted about him last week. Hope we can get him.

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    1. Looks like Narduzzi, Conklin spent time with Puhl last week at WH and Powell was with him today. You could be on to some thing here.

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