Monday, August 31, 2015

How Narduzzi's class currently compares to past Pitt classes

2002
Walt Harris 6th class
Avg. per recruit- 44th
Rivals ratings system- 39th

2003
Walt Harris 7th class
Avg. per recruit- 43
Rivals ratings system- 34

2004
Walt Harris 8th class
Avg. per recruit- 78
Rivals ratings system- 74

2005
Dave Wannstedt 1st class
Avg. per recruit- 49
Rivals ratings system- 38

2006
Dave Wannstedt 2nd class
Avg. per recruit- 22
Rivals ratings system- 21

2007
Dave Wannstedt 3rd class
Avg. per recruit- 25
Rivals ratings system- 26

2008
Dave Wannstedt 4th class
Avg. per recruit- 19
Rivals Ratings system- 28

2009
Dave Wannstedt 5th class
Avg. per recruit- 38
Rivals Ratings system- 47

2010
Dave Wannstedt 6th class
Avg. per recruit- 29
Rivals Ratings system- 33

2011
Todd Graham only class
Avg. per recruit- 62
Rivals Ratings system- 59

2012
Paul Chryst 1st class
Avg. per recruit- 26
Rivals Ratings system- 47

2013
Paul Chryst 2nd class
Avg. per recruit- 53
Rivals Ratings system- 35

2014
Paul Chryst 3rd class
Avg. per recruit- 30
Rivals Ratings system- 44

2015
Pat Narduzzi 1st class
Avg. per recruit- 49
Rivals Ratings system- 66

2016
Pat Narduzzi 2nd class
Avg. per recruit- 42
Rivals Ratings system- 63


I consider average per recruit the better system, and the reasons why have been covered in many places before. If Pitt merely finished their class with mostly 2 star recruits they will go up in the ratings. That makes no sense.

To use just one example of how silly the system is, WVU is currently ranked No. 28 in their ratings system, even though they have zero 5 stars and one 4 star (both like Pitt), but they also have five 2-stars compared to two 2- stars for Pitt. The difference is that WVU has 19 commits compared to Pitt's 10. Pitt has 80% of their recruits currently that are 3 or 4 stars. WVU has 74% of their recruits that are 3 or 4 stars. But WVU is No. 28 in the rankings whereas Pitt is No. 63. How much sense does that make?

Clemson has eight 4 stars and three 3 stars in their class, with one player not rated because he is at a prep school and didn't get ranked. Rivals has them at No. 20. In ratings per recruit Clemson would be No. 3. Obviously they are more likely to be No. 3 with that class, but they are penalized for only having 12 players in the class.

The most obvious example is California. They have just one 4-star, but also four 2-stars. They are ranked No. 17, according to Rivals rankings because they have 17 3-stars. Their class is 82% 3 or 4 star players, only 2% more than Pitt. In average per player they are No. 45, three spots below Pitt. Basically, they get rewarded for having more committed players, even though all of those extra players are 2 and 3 star prospects.  It's not like Pitt will not finish their class at all, or finish with all 2-star prospects. Most will probably be 3 stars with maybe another one or two 4 star prospects thrown in.

Bottom line, you shouldn't get penalized for having less players in your class because all classes will be maxed out.  Some may only have room for 16 and some may have room for 25 or more. Quality should matter more than quantity and that's why average per recruit is the most likely indicator of how strong a class projects on paper.

That leads us to Narduzzi's current class, which at No. 42 is good, but nothing special. In fact, on paper Chryst had two higher rated classes. But, this is where even average per recruit doesn't tell the entire story since 10 of Chryst's 11 four star prospects were offensive players, and the one defensive player was Deysean Rippy.  By the way, as an aside, Mark Dantonio's first full class at Michigan State was No. 46 in average per recruit.

If Narduzzi lands Damar Hamlin, along with various 3-star star recruits, the class will be around No. 35, which is a good first full class. But the 2017 class, in which Narduzzi's staff will have two full years to recruit, can, and should, be even better.

Monday, August 24, 2015

My bios for Pitt football starters as high school players

I thought it would be interesting to see how I did as far as predicting what would become of Pitt players as they entered the program. For the players that's been around for a long time, I don't have bios, but here are the ones that I do have. The players listed are the projected starters, and when there is doubt who will be the starter, I added several options.

QB- Chad Voytik- "At 6'1" and 185 pounds he could use some weight, but his height is fine, despite some naysayers.  In fact, Chryst's star QB at Wisconsin, Russell Wilson, is 5'10 1/2".  He is not considered a running quarterback but he is very mobile and possesses good speed, so he can take off and run extremely well when he needs. His best trait, however, is seen when he passes.  His arm strength is very good and his lightning quick release is considered by some to be the best in the class. He's also already shown he is a leader as he is the player most responsible for keeping the best of the class together."

RB- James Conner- "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. 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."

WR- Tyler Boyd- "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. 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."

WR- Dontez Ford- Transfer so no bio.

WR- Elijah Zeise- "Solidly built at 6'2" and 185 pounds with a frame that could add a lot more weight. Physically he does not have one trait that stands out at an elite level, but he is good to very good in size, speed, athleticism, and hands. A good football player that could also project at safety or even linebacker some day."

WR- Zach Challingsworth- "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. 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."

WR- Quadree Henderson- "Very small at 5'8" and 170 pounds, but he's a water bug type with blazing speed (10.8 100m) and elite level quickness. Game breaker who runs extremely well with the ball in his hands. Also could factor in as a kick returner."

TE- JP Holtz- "Ideal for Paul Chryst's tight end friendly offense but he is also versatile enough to move to defensive end or linebacker in the future if need be. He possesses very good speed and athleticism, and even though he looks nothing like a true halfback he often ran out of the I-formation like a much smaller player, until he eventually steamrolled any would be tacklers. Bottom line, this is one of my favorite players from the hundreds of Pitt prospects this year.  He's just a tough, hard nosed football player that hustles.  Combine that with his natural talent and Chryst's offense, and Holtz could be a bonafide star down the road."

LT- Adam Bisnowaty- "I'll put him down as a guard for now but he has the ability to play tackle and even center for the Panthers.  At 6'6", he has great length but at 280 pounds he obviously has to gain a lot of weight, especially on a Bob Bostad line. A little stiff, but very strong.  Plays with a mean streak.  Was considered a bit of an underachiever at one point, but then decided to turn it on.  The result was offers by Florida, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Virginia among others. Bottom line-  A big, tough, nasty lineman who has the ability to be an All-American under Bostad."

LG- Dorian Johnson- "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."

C- Artie Rowell- No bio found.

RG- Alex Officer- "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. 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."

RT- Alex Bookser- "Already a fit 6'6" and 300 pounds, and he can get bigger. Very quick feet which could make him an ideal left tackle candidate down the road. Like most freshmen linemen he will need to get stronger, so he'll very likely redshirt. But in a few years, if he lives up to his potential, he can be a big time left tackle. And if he doesn't? He very possibly could be an all-star defensive tackle since at the moment he's actually a better defensive player."

DE- Shakir Soto- "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. 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."

DT- Khaynin Mosley-Smith- No bio found.

DT- Darryl Render- "Committed under previous regime as a pass rushing defensive end/linebacker, but while he has decent pass rushing skills, stopping the run is his forte. Strong base on his 6'3" 250 pound frame.  Good hustler with good athleticism.  Has the ability to add a lot of weight to become a defensive tackle down the line. Bottom line:  Tough, high character kid from an excellent high school football program. Has the potential to be a good strong side end or can add weight to move inside."

DT- Tyrique Jarrett- "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. Big, nasty players that can move like him are rare.  Perhaps the sleeper of the class and somebody with a lot of potential."

DE- Rori Blair- "Very skinny at 6'3" at a listed 220 pounds, and he looks skinnier than that. But he has the frame to get bigger. Needs a lot more strength. Right now he gets overpowered too often. Good straight line speed and athleticism. Could potentially be an outside linebacker if he can't put on enough weight. An interesting project for many reasons. He's come a long way but he still has a long way to go."

OLB- Mike Caprara- "The lack of size is what kept Caprara from getting major offers.  At most he's 6'0" and 210 pounds, and it remains to be seen how much bigger he can get, but he has good speed and excellent instincts. Bottom line:  A born football player who would get a huge amount of offers if he was bigger.  At the very worst, he can be a special teams wiz who provides leadership on and off the field.  At best, he adapts to his smaller size and becomes a good player."

OLB- Bam Bradley- "The Panthers may tell him he's a safety officially, and they may even try him there, but look for him to be a linebacker eventually.  As a safety, he lacks the top level athleticism and speed, and as a linebacker he will have to add to his 6'1" and 200 pounds.  But it's easier to get bigger than faster.  He wants to play safety. Tough hard hitter as his name suggests (his real name is George), with good instincts.  Speed and athleticism is okay, but he could be a liability defending as a safety.  Spends most of his time in the box making tackles close to the line of scrimmage.  Brother Nicholas Grigsby was a freshman linebacker this year for the Panthers.  Bottom line: Tough kid who loves to play football and hits like a ton of bricks.  If he gets into the right position he could be a future ringleader on defense."

MLB- Matt Galambos- "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. 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."

OLB- Nicolas Grigsby- No bio found.

CB- Lafayette Pitts- No bio found.

CB- Avonte Maddox- "Small at 5'9" and 160 pounds, but he can flat out fly. Probably the most electrifying player in Michigan this season and that's saying something.    Would be a big time slot receiver in some offenses, but at Pitt he will be at cornerback. Could be a star return man. Good student and leader."

FS- Reggie Mitchell- Transfer so no recruiting bio.

SS- Jordan Whitehead- "Solidly built at 5'11" and 195 pounds, excellent speed, and topnotch quickness. One of the most electrifying players in the state. Could also play safety on defense, plus wide receiver, and return kicks and punts."

SS- Patrick Amara- " Long frame at 6'2" and 175 pounds. Not a blazer on the stopwatch but he plays much faster on the field because of his smarts, anticipation, and quickness. Could turn out to be a very good college player."

PK- Chris Blewitt- "Small at just 5'10" and 175 pounds, but he has recently added size and strength.  Strong leg on kickoffs. People will have fun with his last name, but he will have the last laugh if he lives up to his ability."

P- Ryan Winslow- "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."

Monday, August 10, 2015

Pitt adds a local DT

The Pitt defensive line continues to get stronger for the future as 6'3" 270 pound Rashad Wheeler, of Central Catholic HS in Pittsburgh, chose the Panthers over offers from Penn State, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Rutgers, Boston College, and others.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Some Pitt football recruiting thoughts

Some notes that I posted on Twitter, but I wanted to put it in here, too.

1.  For Rivals rankings, I find their formula idiotic, and the reasons why are too boring to get in to. Others have written about it in detail, and let's just say they make no sense. The real rankings should be by average ranking per recruit. Following that, Pitt currently has the No. 42 recruiting class. Players like Damar Hamlin, Rashad Wheeler, Zack Gilbert, and Therran Coleman could make that go way up into the 20s, and there's a very good chance that will happen. And there may be a few other surprises along the way (including very possibly a huge one). But, bottom line, Pitt has a very good chance of ending up in the top 30 with Pat Narduzzi's first class.

2.  This class currently has a rating of 2.86 per recruit. Mark Dantonio's first class was 2.71. He had just one 4-star to go with 13 3-stars, and SEVEN 2-stars. His second class, when he had nearly two years to work on them, was a 3.3 and ranked No. 18. I suspect Narduzzi's second class will be equally impressive.

3.  Dave Wannstedt's first full class at Pitt was No. 22. Wannstedt followed that up with No. 26 and No. 19. Then the wheels came off at No. 40 and No. 30. Needless to say, Pitt's talent level started to drop and it was showing.

4.  The ACC recruiting is currently ranked: 1. Clemson, 2. Florida State, 3. Miami, 4. North Carolina, 5. Louisville, 6. Duke, 7. Pittsburgh, 8. Georgia Tech, 9. Boston College, 10. NC State, 11. Virginia Tech, 12. Virginia, 13. Wake Forest, 14. Syracuse. Expect Pitt to move up these rankings.

5.  At Michigan State, Narduzzi coached three consensus All-Americans and two No. 1 draft picks (one overlapped). All of them were 2-star or 3-star prospects, according to Rivals.

6.  Despite their coaching problems, Pitt has out recruited both Wisconsin and Michigan State 5 out of the last 10 years. In the seven years when the Pitt head coach had a full recruiting class, Pitt bettered those two schools 4 out of 7 years.  Moral to the story- Pitt did well recruiting when all hell broke loose. Imagine when there's stability.