Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pitt football's 2016 class

QUARTERBACK (1)

Thomas MacVittie, Moeller HS (Cincinatti, OH)- Like most players entering college he needs to fill out a lot but at 6'5" and 225 pounds he has the frame to do it. All of the other physical aspects needed to be a successful college quarterback are also present. He has a strong arm and he's a big time athlete that can really run. He played for one of the best programs in the country so he didn't get to start until his senior year. He lived up to his promise, however, and had a great year against one of the most difficult schedules in the country. He needs some tweaking on his mechanics and get physically stronger, but he has a lot of the traits needed to be a big time college quarterback. LSU came after him strong a month before signing day, but he stuck with the Panthers. 4-star (Ratings are my own)

Where the position stands: Barring the unforeseen, Nathan Peterman will start again next season, and despite ending on a sour note, he had a good year. Almost all quarterbacks, despite their age, will struggle as a first year starter, but they should get continually better. That's the hope for Peterman, and the hope that Matt Canada's fresh approach will help also. Canada also has an excellent track record for quarterbacks so I'd be surprised if Peterman doesn't improve. He probably won't be a star, but if he merely improves one level he will be a very good quarterback.

After Peterman things get more suspect thanks to the transfer of Chad Voytik. Not many programs have a good backup quarterback so the Panthers can't complain too much, but not having that luxury makes things a little more worrisome.

Because he's been around the longest, 6'6" 235 pound redshirt sophomore Adam Bertke will be looked at first. He's obviously huge, and he has a big arm, but he's also athletic enough to play on special teams this past season. He hasn't shown enough to see the field as a quarterback yet, but the raw physical ability is there. Now it's time to see if he actually knows how to play quarterback.

Another option as a backup will be 6'2" 200 pound redshirt freshman Ben DiNucci, who had a legendary career in the WPIAL, but it remains to be seen if that will translate to the college game. He has a good arm and good mobility.

It's very possible that MacVittie will redshirt and build up his body, but if he shows enough in practices he could be the backup this year so that he gets some experience. He's the favorite to take over in 2017 whether he redshirts or not this season.



RUNNING BACK (1)

Chawntez Moss, Bedford HS (Bedford, OH)- At 5'11" and 195 pounds, he's not a big back, but he runs tough between the tackles, has good speed, great vision, good hands, and is an excellent blocker. Because he can do a little bit of everything, he could eventually see time on the field when games are close, though that's unlikely this year. He runs an 11.58 100m, which is good, but not great speed, so he will never be a speed demon, but he has a lot of good traits that should be beneficial in college. Indiana, Iowa, Cincinnati, and virtually all of the MAC offered him. 3-star

Where the position stands: The Panthers obviously wanted to land local star Miles Sanders here, and they looked into he always mercurial Robert Washington, but they couldn't add the big time talent they aimed for. That's not necessarily bad, as long as they add a big time back next season. Luckily for Pitt, it's a position where a highly talented freshman could step right in if need be.

Redshirt sophomore Qadree Ollison was the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year and he plowed his way to over 1,100 yards in his first year after James Conner went down in the first game. He's not a game breaker by any stretch, but he moves the chains more often than not.

Adding a big time back this year became less urgent when it was found out that Conner would be back for another year. As any Pitt fan knows, Conner is only back because he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs had the same diagnosis and returned to become the best safety on the NFL this year. And he did it in the same amount of time it would take Conner to return. I'm not a doctor, but obviously with that to go on, it's quite possible that Conner can return and be very effective. How effective remains to be seen, but barring the unforeseen, it seems that Conner and Ollison will be two very good backs to lean on.

Behind them, 5'11" 215 pound true sophomore Darrin Hall returns. He showed flashes as a freshman, and he should improve in 2016.  He probably won't see a lot of action if Conner returns even close to his old form, but he's a nice backup option.

Also coming back is 6'1" 195 pound redshirt junior Rachid Ibrahim, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury. He was sneaky good in his first two seasons. He's slippery and he has great hands. If he returns to form, he will help a lot because when he had the ball in his hands, something good usually happened.

WIDE RECEIVER (3)

Ruben Flowers, Lima Senior HS (Lima, OH)- He has to fill out but at 6'3" 185 pounds he has great length. More athletic than blazing fast. While he has good speed, it's his athleticism, hands, and length that makes him an elite prospect. Knows how to use his body to block out the defender. Athleticism and size make him a good runner after the catch. Kentucky, Iowa, Illinois, and Cincinnati are some of his offers. He would have had more but he committed relatively early. 4-star

Maurice Ffrench, New Brunswick HS (New Brunswick, NJ)- A 5'11" 185 pound speedster that would be perfect in the slot. Game breaker that is fantastic after the catch. Runs an 11.04 100m, which is faster than anything Robert Foster ran in high school just to give you some perspective. Also  an excellent kick and punt returner. He also has the potential to be a cornerback. 3-star

Aaron Mathews, Clairton HS (Clairton, PA)- The former Penn State commit wanted to play wide receiver, and when the Panthers finally gave him the chance, he changed his commitment. Doesn't have great speed, but with his long strides he doesn't seem to get caught often. Very skinny, but great height at 6'4". Officially listed at 190 pounds, though that appears to be at least 10 pounds too generous. Great hands and very good athleticism. Knows how to use his size to block out defenders. If he doesn't work out at wide receiver he become a deadly tight end in a few years if he can gain about 50 pounds. But that's easier said than done. 3-star


Where the position stands: Tyler Boyd has moved on, and while there's some talent, there's also a lot of questions. Starter Dontez Ford returns, and quietly had a good season last year. But it's unlikely that he could become an all-conference level of receiver. The redshirt senior is solidly built at 6'2" and 215 pounds and he makes plays when called upon. You have to assume he will be able to hold on to his starting spot. Returnees Zach Challingsworth and Quadree Henderson should improve with one more year under their belt. Challingsworth, a 6'2" 200 pound redshirt junior, was solid as a third down receiver at times, but Henderson, a 5'8" 180 pound sophomore, is a player that needs to get on the field more. New offensive coordinator Canada likes to use jet sweeps and the extremely fast and elusive Henderson will be perfect for that. Ffrench, Henderson, and Challingsworth will probably battle it out for the slot, though Challingsworth has a chance to start opposite Ford. But those three won't be the only ones battling. Local favorite Tre Tipton is also returning and the 6'0"180 pound sophomore looks to rebound from an injury that cost him most of the season. He's very athletic. Redshirt sophomore Elijah Zeise and redshirt junior Jester Weah both saw action last year, and Zeise should be right in the mix again this year. Both do have the size and speed, but Zeise is much more polished. Two players that redshirted last season, Rafael Araujo-Lopes and Gentry Ivery, may still find it difficult to get on the field again this year, but you never know who improves from year to year.

If I had to guess, I think the realistic top six options are Ford, Flowers, Henderson, Challingsworth, Zeise, and Tipton, but there are always a player or two that surprises. But the question remains, can any of them be an all-conference caliber player this year?

TIGHT END (1)

Chris Clark, UCLA transfer- Ranked the top tight end prospect in the country two years ago. He took a much discussed circuitous route to get to the Panthers, and he got a lot of bad publicity because of it. But I've talked to him a lot and he is hellbent on proving everybody wrong. That's good news for the Panthers because the 6'6" 250 pounder has everything it takes to be an All-American. He reminds me a lot of Jason Witten in that he has great size, great hands, and can catch and block equally well. He had mononucleosis at UCLA, which cost him his freshman year, but unfortunately despite barely playing las season, it looks like he will have to sit out this season. 5-star

Where the position stands: J.P. Holtz has graduated, Clark won't be on the field until next season, and the staff failed to bring in another tight end this year for depth. That means this year will finally be the year for 6'5" 265 pound Scott Orndoff.  I once predicted stardom for him, but Paul Chryst never found a way to use him, and constant injuries didn't help. He lost out to Holtz and then stayed behind him for the next three years. But he has size, hands, and mobility to be a high draft pick. He just needs to have it all come together for him. He caught just 13 passes as a junior, but 8 went for touchdowns and he showed his big play ability by averaging 18.8 yards a catch.

If Orndoff stays healthy and lives up to his potential this position could be a team strength. But it could also go the other way because behind him are 6'2" 270 pound senior Jaymar Parrish, 6'4" 270 pound redshirt junior Devon Edwards, and 6'4" 245 redshirt junior Zach Poker. Parrish was an excellent fullback when Chryst was at Pitt, but he got moved to tight end last year and virtually disappeared. Edwards is not fast or athletic enough to be much more than a blocking tight end. And Poker was moved from defensive end in the offseason.

If the Panthers can get past this season, things will get great in 2017 with Clark getting back on the field. He has such potential that it's always possible that he could only be at Pitt for one season before leaving for the NFL draft. For that reason, two tight ends are needed next season, and ideally at least one of them has to be at an elite level that is capable of starting immediately.

OFFENSIVE LINE (3)

Brandon Ford, Upper St. Clair HS (Pittsburgh, PA)- Tough mauler with 6'5" 295 pound size. Decent feet and quickness, but mostly he's the type of lineman that wears defenders down with his strength and toughness over the duration of a game. Could possibly play at left tackle with a little more quickness, but guard or right tackle looks to be an ideal spot for him. 3-star

Justin Morgan, Poly Prep HS (Brooklyn, NY)- Ginormous 6'6" 365 pound tackle that has surprising agility and feet for such a big kid. He needs to shape up his body and gain more functional strength, but he's only been playing football for two years and he's really just scratching the surface of what he could become. In fact, when I saw his junior tape I was wondering what Pitt saw in him. When I saw his senior tape, I knew exactly what they saw. The difference of one more year of experience made a huge difference, and he should only improve with college coaching. Could play either left tackle, because of his size and feet, or right tackle. Previously committed to Rutgers. 3-star

Zack Williams, North Marion HS (Citra, FL)- Highly athletic at 6'5" and 275 pounds. Clearly he needs to add weight when he gets to Pitt, but he is so athletic that he played tight end at North Marion. With his quickness, great feet, and length he has the possibility of being a big time left tackle down the road. 3-star

Where the position stands: Barring injury, this could be a fantastic unit this year. Starting tackles Adam Bisnowaty and Brian O'Neil return. Bisnowaty, a 6'6" 300 pound redshirt senior received all-conference honors last year. O'Neil, a 6'6" 300 pound redshirt sophomore, stepped in when an injury cost Jaryd Jones-Smith the entire season. The converted tight end proved to be a quick study and he is starting to have the look of a possible future first round draft pick. That means the redshirt junior Jones-Smith, all 6'7" 335 pounds of him, will probably be a very talented backup this season.

At guard, 6'5" 300 pound senior Dorian Johnson is also looking like a possible high draft pick. He should be joined in the starting lineup by 6'6" 310 pound redshirt sophomore Alex Booker, who, you guessed it, could be yet another high draft choice.

At center, 6'4" 335 pound redshirt junior Alex Officer slides back over from guard to replace the graduated Artie Rowell, and to be honest it's an upgrade.

The top six linemen are the most talented bunch I've seen at Pitt in many decades. All six could end up going in the first four rounds in the draft. and the best news is that only Bisnowaty and Johnson will be gone after next year.

The three freshmen will probably redshirt and I expect the staff to hit the position hard in the '17 class.


DEFENSIVE LINE (7)

Keyshon Camp, Lake Gibson HS (Lakeland, FL)- To say that landing the former USC commit late  will be a major coup is an understatement. At 6'4" and 275 pounds he is quick as a cat, strong, and volatile,  or basically every thing you want in a big time tackle. His other offers are all you need to know about the level of talent. Other than USC, his offers included Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Miami, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Oregon, South Carolina, Louisville, and UCLA. 4-star

Zack Gilbert, South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte, NC)- At 6'1" and 240 pounds, he's a little shorter than normal for an end, but the same could be said for Juan Price. The son of former Pitt great Sean Gilbert, he has excellent strength, quickness, explosion, and athleticism for such a big physical specimen. As an added benefit he could also add 30 pounds in the future and move inside. Had offers from the likes of Virginia Tech, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina. 4-star

Bryce Hargrove, Coventry HS (Akron, OH)- A bit of a sleeper which Pitt lists as 6'4" and 260 pounds. That's much different than the 6'6" that he was listed it in recruiting circles, and it makes more sense as to why Pitt looks at him as a 4-3 tackle. He is very mobile and active, and has the frame to add much more to his 260 pounds. He's just very big naturally. He could always move to offensive line down the line. 3-star

Patrick Jones, Grassfield HS (Chesapeake, VA)- At 6'5" and 250 pounds, he is officially listed as much bigger than he was in high school. He is long, quick, and athletic. He has the potential to be very good down the road. He has enrolled early. Other offers included Virginia Tech, Duke, NC State, and Virginia. 3-star

Amir Watts, Phillips Academy (Chicago, IL)- At 6'3" and 270 pounds, he is explosive, quick, and very strong. He was very under recruited this year because he was a virtual unknown coming into the season. He originally committed to Western Michigan but de-committed in the summer. He had a great senior season and then was a major force in the Semper Fidelis practices. He ended up getting offers from the likes of Penn State, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, and Kentucky. 4-star

Rashad Weaver, Cooper City HS (Copper City, FL)- The former Michigan de-commit has great size at 6'5" and 255 pounds. Not explosive for an end so he could move inside to defensive tackle or even move to tight end or offensive line in the future. Big frame. Chose Pitt over Penn State after de-committing from Michigan. 3-star

Rashad Wheeler, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh, PA)- Athletic enough in high school to play tight end at 6'3" and 280 pounds, but he will be a defensive tackle at Pitt. Strong and mobile. Other offers included Penn State, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Rutgers, and Boston College. 3-star

Where the position stands: This position was alarmingly weak before Narduzzi arrived, but it will already be a strength this season. At end, Juan Price will be back for a sixth year after being one of the best pass rushers in the ACC last season. The other starting end will be 6'4" 275 pound Tennessee transfer Dewayne Hendrix, who has star potential. Like Clark, he may only be at Pitt for one year if he lives up to his potential this season. In reserve, former starter Rori Blair, 6'4" 245 pound junior, disappointed this past season, so he will have to improve to still see the field. Senior Shakir Soto has great size at 6'3" and 265 pounds, but he will have to battle to see the field also, especially since 6'4" 245 pound redshirt junior Allen Edwards may demand time because of his pass rushing potential. Former linebacker James Folston, a redshirt sophomore at 6'3" 240 pounds, will remain at end, and will also try to get in the mix. Luckily for the Panthers, they can afford to redshirt Gilbert and Jones. Both should be major factors in the future. Weaver will surely redshirt.

At tackle, 6'3" 335 pound senior Tyrique Jarrett returns. The local behemoth started off strong, but seemed to fade. He will have to be more consistent this year. After that, things get interesting. Returnees include 6'3" 280 pound redshirt junior Justin Moody, 6'2" 300 pound redshirt junior Jeremiah Taleni, and 6'3" 310 pound redshirt sophomore Connor Dintino. But all three will really have to battle to beat out Watts, Camp, and even Wheeler. In fact, I will be surprised if Watts and Camp aren't in the top four tackles with Jarrett. Hargrove will probably redshirt.

LINEBACKERS (3)

Chase Pine, Lafayette HS (Williamsburg, VA)- Raw boned at 6'4" and 225 pounds, he is athletic, fast, and explosive. He can play against the pass and the run, but currently he excels the most at rushing the passer. He could end up at defensive end if he keeps growing, and he does have the frame to add a lot of weight still. He does have the ability to play immediately. Other offers included West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and California. 4-star

Kaezon Pugh, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa, PA)- He's currently at about 6'1" and 210 pounds, but he's naturally big and strong, and will get bigger. He played defensive end on defense in high school, but he was a star on offense as a running back. Transition to linebacker should not be a problem. He seems best suited for the middle, but he is athletic enough to play outside, too. Other offers included West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Missouri, Arizona, and Maryland. 4-star

Elias Reynolds, Poly Prep HS (Brooklyn, NY)- Strong run stuffer at a solid 6'2" and 225 pounds. Not bad against the pass, but he's a strong tackler against the run. Was a former Rutgers commit, but flipped. UConn, Illinois, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Wake Forest were among his other offers. 3-star

Where the position stands: Three players return that have starting experience, and there are four experienced players returning overall, so this is a unit that clearly needs more talented players.

In the middle, 6'2" 240 pound Matt Galambos returns to start again. Personally, I think 6'2" 240 pound junior Quintin Wirginis is more of a playmaker, but the staff likes Galambos' toughness and smarts. They should combine to get almost all of the snaps, though it's always possible that they move Wirginis outside to get him on the field more.

On the outside, 6'2' 230 pound redshirt senior Mike Caprara shared timed last season with fellow 6'2" 230 pound redshirt senior Bam Bradley, so they are the favorites to start at the two outside spots, though Bradley has had offseason shoulder surgery that could set him back some. Both will get plenty of competition from redshirt freshmen Anthony McKee and Saleem Brightwell. Both entered the program last year at 200 pounds so they need to add more size, but both are also fast and athletic. Pine and Pugh are also capable of playing, or even starting, right away, and with such little quality depth, they probably will play.

There is a big difference between the veterans, who aren't all-star caliber, and players like McKee, Brightwell, Pine, and Pugh that are very talented. How well the young group develops will go a long way in determining what the defense does next season.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (6)

Phil Campbell, South Brunswick HS (Monmouth Junction, NJ)- Strongly built at 6'0" and 185 pounds. Very good speed and athleticism. Hard hitter with great range and explosiveness. Also very good with the ball in his hands so he could find himself on offense someday. Former Rutgers commit. 3-star

Therran Coleman, Brashear HS (Pittsburgh, PA)-  Excellent 6'0" height for a corner. Right now he's a lithe 190 pounds but I expect eventually he will top out at a solid 200 pounds. Very good speed and excellent athleticism. Really works hard on his game, both physically and mentally. Very high ceiling. Other offers include West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, and Arizona State. 4-star

Bricen Garner, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh, PA)- A skinny 6'1" and 175 pounds right now, but he has the frame to get to over 200 pounds in the future if he works hard for it. Not a speed demon, but athletic and instinctive. Makes a lot of plays with his smarts and always seems to be around the ball. 3-star

Damar Hamlin, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)- Needs to gain weight, as most freshmen do, but at 6'1" and 175 pounds, he has great length and a nice frame to work with. Very good speed with great feet, hips, and hands. Will come up and hit you despite thin frame. Could play free safety down the road, if necessary. Already knows how to play the position. Will definitely play a lot early, and may even be the favorite to start. Other offers included Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Clemson, Auburn, Stanford, and UCLA. 4-star

George Hill, Hubbard HS (Hubbard, OH)- Already great size at 6'0" and 200 pounds, but needs to get a little stronger. Elite speed and runs a blazing fast 10.75 100m. Concentrated on offense and safety in high school, so he has to learn how to play cornerback. Could move to offense if he doesn't pan out on defense. On offense he relies mostly on his speed. Also can return kicks. Former Ohio State commit, and also had offers from the likes of Michigan State, Nebraska, and West Virginia. 4-star

Henry Miller, Gateway HS (Kissimmee, FL)- Fantastic 6'3" 205 pound size with very good speed and even better athleticism. Has enough physical traits to be a be a shutdown corner, but could also move on to safety or even linebacker with another 20-30 pounds. Other offers included Miami, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Louisville, and North Carolina. 4-star

Where the position stands: This was a position that was badly in need of talent and numbers, and man, did Pitt come through. There's a real chance that Hamlin will start opposite 5'9" 170 pound junior Avonte Maddox. The fast, but small Maddox got some heat last year from fans, but most criticism was unwarranted. He was the only defensive back on the team last year that could cover at all so he was put in spots that he wasn't ready for. Not many NFL players could defend Notre Dame's Will Fuller one on one but Pitt called on Maddox to do it. With more elite physical talent, and experience, in the secondary, Maddox won't be exposed as much. Bottom line, he's a good cornerback, and I think he'll get even better this season.

At strong safety, 5'11" 195 pound sophomore Jordan Whitehead returns as the starter, and he's an All-American candidate. I won't go on anymore about him, because we are all well aware of how good he is. At free safety, 6'0" 190 pound redshirt senior Reggie Mitchell, and 5'11" 190 pound redshirt senior Terrish Webb, both have starting experience, and both return. You have to assume they won't get beat out by a freshman.

Also competing at cornerback are returnees such as 5'10" 190 pound redshirt sophomore Dennis Briggs, 6'0" 185 pound sophomore Malik Henderson, 6'0" 175 pound redshirt freshman Dane Jackson, and 5'10" 185 pound redshirt sophomore Phillipie Motley. But they may have a hard time keeping Coleman, Hill, and Miller at bay.

At safety, 6'2" 195 pound redshirt freshman Jay Stocker has a lot of talent, and could be in the mix. Campbell and Garner will try to see the field as freshmen.


56 comments:

  1. been a long long time since we've seen a class of athletes like this. Praise Narduzzi!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm still hoping TJ Neal transfers to Pitt and gives the linebacking corps a battle-tested player for one season.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Phil Campbell is a 4 Star easily in my book. High school tape is very good. Fast, explosive, great hitter, one of our top recruits. Also named NJ state player of the year. Great talent, highly underrated.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! This report is so much different than those of past years. These players bring hope (for followers) in addition to talent, size, and speed. This is the kind of recruiting class I have hoped for for years. Duzz is the man! Go Pitt!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I noticed you didn't mention Jaquan Davidson, I always thought he had a higher ceiling than Zeise or Challingsworth. Is there a reason you didn't mention him? Has he just not put in the needed work and disappeared? Thanks for the time you put into this article too...great work!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Doke. It truly is a great day for Pitt FB. I'm already psyched for next years signing day.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great analysis. Great recruiting class. I will say, that in terms of LB and DB depth, I would rather see all new starters, with the exception of Jordan Whitehead. The reason this team faltered down the stretch was bad LB play and terrible DB's. I don't mind Maddox as a nickel back but they need talented CB's and Maddox is just not that good. Neither was Pitts. These recruits can be a talented unit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They won't start two true freshmen at cornerback. They'll get killed.

      Delete
    2. Chris, not to beat a dead horse, but they need talent and what they've lacked is pure talent on Defense. Its conventional thinking to say that playing two FR CB's would kill them. If these kids are as special as they seem, throw convention out the window and play to win. Jordan Whitehead was a FR and he seemed to be OK. The returning LB's and DB's just are not that good--especially the DB's (Outside Jordan). Pitt won 8 games in spite of those guys. H2P

      Delete
    3. TD - These guys are good but it's not like they were the top DBs in the country. Hamlin is really good. Miller is a 3-star CB, George Hill is a 4-star who didn't really play corner in high school. Expecting either of them to contribute meaningfully at cornerback as true freshmen is asking a little much. Whitehead did at safety, but he was ranked significantly higher than anyone in this class (I believe he was in the 70s while our highest ranked DB is Hamlin who was like 120-something). I'll give you that the current crop of DBs is nothing to get excited about, but I think most of the guys we got are exciting more for their potential than their ability to play immediately, maybe 20-30 freshman per year actually start immediately and also play at a high level.

      Delete
    4. Relax Al....Revis was a 3 star...so was Aaron Donald. You're putting too much stock in star ratings, like these guys actually know what they're doing.

      Narduzzi put 3 star DB's into the first round of the NFL draft while at MSU. These new kids have the intangibles that the coaches can coach up.

      Delete
    5. I'm sure the ratings guys make mistakes too, but it's not like they don't know anything, look at the teams that have top-10 classes every year. It's Alabama, OSU, Florida State, etc. It's not coincidence that these are also the best teams every year.

      In any case, I didn't even say they weren't good enough, just that they weren't good enough to start and do well as true freshmen. I'm happy with the players Pitt got, but it's the 30th rated class, not the 1st or 3rd or even 15th, so my point was just to calm down a little with predictions that we have a bunch of guys here that would be major upgrades as true freshman on an 8-win team.

      Delete
    6. It doesn't take much to realize that players that end up at Alabama and Ohio St are elite players.

      Delete
    7. Also, yes Revis and Donald were 3-star players. So were about 50 guys Pitt got the past 5 years that you've never heard of and never saw the field. There were also a bunch of 4 and 5 star guys other teams got that were busts, sure. But it's a fact (and they have written articles on it) that a players star-rating is a decent predictor of how good they will be. Not a PERFECT one, mind you, but, all things being equal, you'd rather have the higher rated guy. If you don't feel like going that deeply into it, again, just look at the teams that had top-10 classes consistently for the past few years and how well those teams have done. The relationship is pretty obvious.

      Delete
    8. True, but the point is people knew they were elite BEFORE they went there, and that's why the class was rated so high.

      Delete
    9. My point is that it doesn't take much to know those kids are elite before they even go there. I would get sent tapes of kids before they were rated, and the elite ones were pretty obvious. The scouting services have most of their problems with the kids ranked 2-4 stars.

      Delete
    10. A lot of that is true, but any kid that commits to an elite school gets a little bump in the rankings. About a decade or so ago, Notre Dame wasn't good despite having kids with high rankings. Many determined that the kids were ranked high because they were going to Notre Dame, but only later was it realized that Notre Dame was evaluating them poorly, and it caused the kids to be rated too highly.

      Delete
    11. That's an interesting story about Notre Dame. I suppose there is no way you could possibly scout all of the prospects in the country so it's easy to just assume that if a kid commits to a top school he's probably 4-star worthy or something like that.

      I didn't mean to use the star rating as the be-all end-all of future performance either. Some of these guys can surely be coached up, or were misevaluated in the first place. But my original response was to the poster talking about starting a bunch of these guys as true freshmen. I mean Pitt wasn't elite last year, but they won 8 games and it's not like they played terribly in most of the losses. So my only point was thinking that a prospect who, even if he was underrated is certainly not like a super elite top DB, in his very first year would be a big upgrade for a decent team is probably not true.

      Delete
  8. Probably the most talent with NFL upside I've seen in a Pitt class. People talk about the '08 class - but really - outside of Baldwin and Nix, who else had NFL potential? Sadler? I don't think so.

    Clark, Camp, Pine, Hamlin, and Miller all have the look of future draft picks. Who knows how Hill, Pugh, and the big uglies on the lines develop.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You've been analyzing Pitt recruting for a long time, Doke. One thing that was always said about Wanny was that he may have been a lousy game coach, but he was an ace recruiter.

    This class represents the fruit of Narduzzi's first "full" recruiting season. How would you compare the job he did compared to Wanny? Is this better than Wanny's first full slate of kids? Better than any class Wanny ever landed? (Obvious caveat: These kids haven't played a down of college ball.)

    I also trust Narduzzi and his staff more to develop this talent than Wanny ever did, but perhaps that is not fair. Your thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wannstedt’s first full class was terrific, but after that most weren’t as highly rated and were pretty mediocre, mostly due to that there just wasn’t a lot of talent in western Penn from 2007-10. After Dave was wrongly fired, there was a rise in O-linemen in the area and then out of the blue a rise in defensive backs. Both units, along with linebacker, seemed to always lack depth and talent.

      While Wannstedt’s firing and 6-6 records are finally behind us, I’ll boldly say Dave was probably a better coach than he was recruiter.

      Delete
    2. Really??!! He couldn't win a Big East conference stripped of Va. Tech and Miami... 'Nuff said.

      Delete
    3. It was amazing Wannstedt won as many games as he did with those quarterbacks starting in 2007. Bad, bad job recruiting the position. Letting Thaddeus Lewis slip through his fingers in 2006 was a killer.

      Delete
    4. The Stache a better coach than a recruiter? Laugh, are you related to him. Seriously he never won as head coach anything significant anywhere! His game day prep was hideous and his half-time adjustments even worse. The man was a good defensive coordinator, good face of the pitt program, good recruiter but bad head coach. All those years in the big east without a title and one good bowl game which he got blown out! And the qb's he had when at pitt awful, bill stullllllllll, tina sunseri and pat bostic (don't care what his star rating out of hs, anyone that watched him throw ONCE, would know he would never be a good qb) and don't forget he chased off Flacco, the best pitt qb since probably marino

      Delete
  10. hey Chris, great piece. I was wondering, wouldn't waver committing to pitt (3pm) give them another option at TE. Seems like he could play a little and maybe take over in a few years. Thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As of now they are looking at him for TE but he could always change. I think they'll get two TEs next year.

      Delete
  11. As I look at these outstanding recruits, I am reminded that Aaron Donald -- arguably one of the Top 10 players in Pitt's long history, and certainly the most-decorated -- was a 3-star recruit who received only one other P5 offer ... from Rutgers.

    https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/maple/90875

    Good days ahead for this program. I can't wait to see it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was a 3 star on Rivals because their national guys, especially Mike Farrell, are clueless.

      Delete
    2. True. That doesn't necessarily explain the meager offers he got: Akron, Toledo, Rutgers, and Pitt.

      He sure picked the right school, and we sure got lucky. I doubt he would have developed into the best defensive player in the NFL if he went to Toledo. I don't doubt his work ethic and talent, but he might not have gotten a chance. As it was, people kept saying he was too short, even for major D-1 ball.

      Delete
    3. If memory serves, AD was a 4-star recruit on at least one service (I think it was Scout).

      The reason I remember is I remember thinking how could he be 4 stars when he was so small at the time (5'-11 and 200 pounds). Guess he showed us and all of America why....

      Delete
    4. He was about 6'0" 260 and I think I ranked him something like 5th or 6th in the state. I even said he was so fast that it looks like he's always offsides, and that he could be a star. So some of us knew.

      Delete
    5. Actually I found my bio of him at the time. I had him as No. 5.

      5. Aaron Donald, Penn Hills HS (Pittsburgh) DT

      PITT

      Every year there is one player who catapults himself into the top 10 with a superb senior season and this Pittsburgh version of the Tasmanian Devil is 2009's example. At 6'0" and 270 pounds his size isn't ideal, but there may not be a quicker interior lineman in the country. So quick and explosive that his ability to take on blockers at the next level is a question since he is so fast off the ball he seldom battles massive linemen straight up. Gateway head coach Terry Smith called Donald, "the best defensive lineman I've seen since I've been coaching." Plays with a nasty attitude that has gotten him in trouble at times. Bottom line- Will make some major programs regret not taking him.

      Delete
    6. Man. Was that on the money, or what? Congrats, Chris.

      You could take that same scouting report and apply it to the college-to-pro journey: Had a "superb senior season," "size isn't ideal," might be "no one quicker," and pro scouts wondered if he was just overmatching marginal talent, or could do that at the next level.

      He's quite simply a dominant football player, and has the talent and drive to continue being great.

      Delete
  12. Great piece as usual, Doke!

    I didn't see either the kicker or his buddy the long snapper mentioned, not on your blog nor anywhere else. Did they end up signing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're not on scholarship this year. They're technically walk ons, though they could get a scholarship next year.

      Delete
  13. Any word on Weaver or Toney?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Toney stayed with Penn State. Weaver committed to Pitt, and is now on the list.

      Delete
  14. Chris,
    Very nice work here and on twitter.
    Based on the offers of virtually the entire class, this sounds like it could be Pitt's best class since the late 1980s. Wanny's classes were uneven and too many players he recruited during his tenure were MAC quality.

    Quantity and apparent quality of the defensive line and DB recruits is really impressive. Together with the transfers now eligible Pitt looks like they will have size and speed along the line, something dramatically missing for several years.


    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the very thorough analysis Chris. Appreciated it. Pitt now has a numbers problems with scholarships so it will be interesting how that works itself out. Enjoyed your comment above on starting two freshman dbs!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Looks to me like we took a lot of DBs and DEs. Barring injury, clearly they won't all sniff the field at those positions.

    Does this bring us back to guys like George Hill switching to RB? Since he played both ways in high school? Who in your mind are the most likely candidates to swap over to offense side of the ball?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Narduzzi said Hill may start out on offense so that's a great development. I wouldn't be surprised if Weaver didn't switch over eventually, too.

      Delete
    2. What position would Weaver play?

      Delete
  17. TE - could be like a Dorin Dickerson, no Chris?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's much bigger than Dickerson and not nearly as fast or athletic but I could definitely see him as a TE.

      Delete
  18. Great write-up.
    Great class and work by Narduzzi and crew
    Thank you Barry Alvarez. Would have never seen this class with Chryst in charge

    Couple of notes / questions:

    1. Robert Washington signed with . . . Charlotte. Yea, issues there
    2. I think Hill plays offense more than defense - we will see
    3. Who leaves to make room as we are over the 85 limit (one or two WRs, a TE, an OL or two, ???)
    4. Whats the liklihood of TJ Neal coming as a grad transfer - would fill an immediate need

    ReplyDelete
  19. I know comparisons are bad, but does anyone else see a very similar running style between Curtis Martin and George Hill. Both extremely fast, they hit the hole with reckless abandon, not a ton of wiggle from either at this stage(Martin got more finesse in the pros), and they both just seem to get yards by being aggressive and taking away angles from defenders. But mainly speed kills

    ReplyDelete
  20. I said it before said it again Hill is a rb.That were he will end up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's still unknown where he's going to end up. He was going to be primarily a CB until they got Hamlin. Now he may be both, or just be on offense. But he's not going to be a traditional every down RB. If he's on offense it's going to be in a variety of ways to get the ball in his hands.

      Delete
  21. Chris, What about the kicker we recruited? I have not seen him mentioned anywhere. We will need a sucessor to Blewit. as a long time Pitt fan I must say This is an incredible recruiting class

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's not under scholarship this year. Will likely get one next year.

      Delete
  22. It appears Hargrove has already moved to the O-line as he was introduced by the position coach last night when discussing the unit. That makes sense since seven D-linemen in one class is a bit much.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Looks like Pitt will be over the 85 scholarship limit. Any ideas on who matriculates on from the program to make room for the new signees?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never like to talk about that publicly. It's awkward for a kid to see his name on such a list.

      Delete
  24. If Watts is starting at defensive end then that spells a redshirt, which would be terrific. Maybe the only linemen who plays as a true freshman is Camp. Hopefully most of these kids redshirt since that's the best way to build a program.

    ReplyDelete