Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How Pitt football can finish out their 2018 class

QUARTERBACK: The Panthers will only take one, and that one will be 6'3" 195 pound Nick Patti. For the longest time it looked like Kevin Doyle would be the man, but he continued to drag his feet, and the Panthers moved on to Patti. The New Jersey native has a good arm and is very athletic. With Patti, Kenny Pickett, and Thomas MacVittie the three quarterbacks taken in Pat Narduzzi's three full classes, the Panthers still have not brought in that guaranteed big time talent, though all three have very good potential as developmental quarterbacks.

RUNNING BACK: With what should be a small class (probably around 16-18), and Chawntez Moss, Todd Sibley, and AJ Davis all with many years of eligibility, this is not a position that the Panthers will spend much time on this year. Of course if a big time halfback wants to come, they'll probably take him. Big, tough 6'4" 255 pound Massachusetts native Jay Symonds has been brought in to be used much the same way as living legend George Aston, which is as a fullback and H-Back, with some blocking and receiving skills. It's not often you see kids that big used as a fullback, and that's a testament to his good agility for his big size.

WIDE RECEIVER: Again, with a small class and a young group already, they will probably not take many- quite possibly just one- this year. Who that will be is anybody's guess because they don't appear to be close to landing anyone obvious yet. Like at quarterback, Narduzzi still hasn't landed that guaranteed big time No. 1 receiver talent at the position, and ideally the one that he lands in this class could be that type of talent. I wouldn't be surprised if it came late, maybe from Florida where they grow elite wide receivers on trees (not literally).

TIGHT END: The staff landed a good group of tight ends in the last class, but there's room for one more, and there's two excellent options for that spot. Local star TJ Banks is already a well put together 6'5" 250 pounds, and he has the athleticism to match. He has big time potential, and landing him would be huge. The secondary option is Ohio native Keaton Upshaw, who at 6'7" 225 pounds is a different kind of tight end. If the Panthers land either, they succeeded at this position.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Local lineman Jake Kradel, who has already committed, could factor in at guard here, but the 6'4" 290 pounder could also end up at defensive tackle. The staff is in good shape with linemen on both sides of the ball, and how well they do with each side may end up determining where he begins. Other real possibilities are Jimmy McKenna, Chris Bleich, Blake Zubovic, Chase Brown, and TJ Bradley. Ideally, they land three of this group, though I don't know if they would turn away four if they could get them. McKenna needs to add a lot of weight to his 6'5" 250 pounds, but he has excellent feet. The 6'5' 305 pound Bleich is a former Penn State commit that many think is leading towards Nebraska. Zubovic went to the same local high school as Dorian Johnson, and the 6'5" 300 pounder seems to be leaning pretty heavily to the Panthers. The 6'6" 310 pound Brown and the 6'7" 290 pound Bradley are juco teammates that currently play in Scranton. Brown has two years of eligibility, and Bradley has three. With Bleich more of a long shot, if the Panthers can land Zubovic, McKenna, and Brown and/or Bradley (all very possible), that would be a magnificent haul for the program.

DEFENSIVE LINE: At tackle, the aforementioned Kradel could be a factor here, but two other local tackles could also be major additions. Devin Danielson is a 6'3" 290 pound force, and Pitt is probably the favorite with him. There is also David Green, a smaller, yet very athletic tackle at 6'2" and 255 pounds. He has been very quiet during his recruitment, but the Panthers are heavily in the mix. Other possibilities include massive Washington, DC native Cam Goode, who at 6'0" 310 pounds is a nose guard-type, and 6'5" 270 pound Spencer Anderson, a Maryland native that could project on offense, too.

At end, the Panthers have already got commitments from Danielson's high school teammate, Noah Palmer, as well as Maryland native John Morgan. Palmer is thin, but has good length and quickness. Morgan is a stocky 6'3" and 240 pounds, but he's strong and knows how to rush the passer.

LINEBACKER: Commit Wendell Davis has already committed, and the 6'2" 220 pounder is a very good start. There could be a few more since the Panthers have made inroads with some very good talent at the position. The best of this group is Columbus native Brian Asamoah, who at 6'0" 210 pounds is ideal for the star linebacker position. Pitt has to beat out the likes of Michigan and Penn State for him, but from what I hear the Panthers are very much at or near the top currently. Floridian Kenny Bastida recently named Pitt and Michigan State his top two. Another Ohio native, Jeslord Boateng, has the Panthers in his top group.

DEFENSIVE BACK: Cornerback Judson Tallandier, a high school teammate of Morgan in Maryland, is already in the fold, and that's a good start. There's no other cornerbacks that are reportedly close to joining him (which doesn't necessarily mean there aren't any that are close), and since you can never have enough defensive backs (and athletes), I could see the staff adding another if it's possible.

As for safety, local star Kwantel Raines can be a safety or an outside linebacker, and he would be a fantastic pickup. Another local, Marcus Hooker, can also project to safety or linebacker.

Summary: The Panthers currently have seven commits, and could add roughly ten more, though the exact number is never fully known until much later in the recruiting season. For the sake of argument, let's go with the number 17. Here would be an example (not a prediction) of how this class could realistically shake out:

QB- Nick Patti
FB- Jay Symonds
WR- Probably one from the south
TE- TJ Banks
OL- 2 of 3 of Jimmy McKenna, Chase Brown, TJ Bradley
OL- Blake Zubovic
OL/DL- Jake Kradel
DT- Devin Danielson
DT- David Green
DE- John Morgan
DE- Noah Palmer
LB- Wendell Davis
LB- Brian Asamoah
LB/S- Kwantel Raines
LB/S- Marcus Hooker
CB- Justin Tallandier


Like I said, that's just a general idea. It never goes as planned. But that would be a very good smaller class. They won't get all of those, though if they get similar to that, and especially land Raines and Asamoah, then this class will be a major success.

And is usually the case, I'm sure there will be one or two major names toward the end of the cycle that the staff will try to swoop in and steal at the last minute. Just like they did with players like Keyshon Camp, Amir Watts, and AJ Davis, three big time prospects that at this time of the year where not mentioned prominently with Pitt.









69 comments:

  1. You don't see us landing Kenny Bastida?

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    1. Trying to find out out exactly what's going on with Florida kids is difficult, so I don't really count on them until I know for sure where they stand. And that's almost impossible with a lot of those kids.

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    2. I have to think that the mess that i going on at MSU could impact his decision.

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  2. Is David Green that good?

    You think short term Pitt is better off adding the two JuCo tackles instead of one and McKenna?

    Thanks.

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    1. Green is pretty good. As for the tackles, the jucos will definitely help earlier. McKenna will need probably 2 or 3 years. I'd love to see them get all three, along with Zubovic.

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  3. If Bastida commits do you think they make room for Asamoah too if he wants to commit later?

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    1. Definitely. Asamoah and Raines would be taken no matter what.

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  4. I hear tweet that Dantonio may be on the hot seat. Might that figure prominently in the Bastida decision? I'm sure that subject has come up during his recruitment.

    Chris would you surmize that the wpial has some very good recruits and that said recruits seem to strongly favor Pitt?

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    1. Pitt is doing very well in the WPIAL. They usually do. Last year was that rare year when a lot of the top group seemed to have connections other than Pitt.

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  5. How many teams that aren't traditional powers can get a "guaranteed big time talent" at QB...even if only once every 3-4 years? Seems like unless you have someone local, it's a heavy lift.

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    1. I'm not talking about a superstar. I'm talking about someone with at least some big time offers.

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    2. LSU doesn't count for MacVittie? And how many non-superstar QBs are Clemson, Ohio State, or even PSU offering?

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  6. Chris:

    Did Kradel still have an offer from Ohio State when he committed to Pitt? Or had OSU pulled the offer or switched the offer to a gray shirt? The reason I ask is because there was recent talk that Kradel would probably commit to Ohio State and that Pitt's only chance was if Ohio State backed off in one way or another.

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    1. As far as I know, Ohio State never pulled that offer. But Kradel definitely didn't perform well in front of them, and his situation was a little less clear for the future. And I can tell you that Kradel was always high on Pitt, and I was told that the chances of Pitt getting him was never less than 50%. So Ohio State never had a clear advantage, despite reports.

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  7. Joey Jr. offered by Pitt. Great story but maybe too much pressure to play in front of locals and dad. Pretty cool though just the same.

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    1. Really, pressure? In front of those small Pitt crowds people are going to be thinking of his father when the ball is in the air and Joey Jr. has to make a play on the ball?

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  8. Who is Pitt commit Robt. Hill?

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  9. Briefly watched Alabama spring game. Is Robert Foster still there?

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    1. Yes, although he seems to have been passed up on the depth chart by their usual number of 5 star recruits.

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  10. There are over 250 prospects ranked 4-star or higher. As a team in a power conference, is it too much to ask for Pitt to at least get ONE?

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    1. The vast majority haven't committed yet, and Raines and Banks are both 4 star recruits and we lead for both, for example.

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    2. Check out the classes of some of the other ACC teams, they already have many of those types of guys.

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    3. And I know rivals ratings aren't everything, but
      for another example, the rivals rating of Pitt's highest rated recruit is equal to the rivals rating of Penn State's lowest rated recruit. That's a pretty significant gap. And I know Pitt isn't in a position yet to compete with PSU, Miami, FSU recruiting wise but they have to play these teams every year and I was hoping they would at least start closing the gap, but that's definitely not happening and with some of these teams, like Miami and PSU, the recruiting gap is actually widening

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    4. Relax. Pitt is recruiting well enough to be in the top 10 in the near future.

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    5. Well I guess the top ten will be the entire ACC conference since there are 7 or 8 teams in the ACC alone that have been out recruiting them both this year and last.

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    6. I said they are recruiting well enough to be in the top 10, not that they will. It's just a fact. Don't be that guy.

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    7. Well then your argument is just anyone can get incredibly lucky, in which case every D1 team
      Is recruiting well enough to be in the top 10

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    8. That's not what I said, and now you're definitely being that guy. The program is doing extremely well. Don't go looking for things that don't exist.

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    9. They have definitely improved the past couple years. But when narduzzi came in he and his staff talked a huge game about recruiting and called out penn state repeatedly for example, and you built him up too as a great recruiter. Well penn state has continued to slaughter them in recruiting and it isn't close at all. I'm optimistic for the team to keep improving slowly but based on everything that was said by both you and this staff when they got here if you're not at least a little disappointed in recruiting so far you're lying to yourself.

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    10. Al, you're a Penn State fan, aren't you?

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    11. I have a really weird answer to that question actually. I grew up a big Pitt fan watching Pitt games and hating Penn State because of my dad, when I went to undergrad I went to Penn State so I became a fan of them and went to the games. It was easy to root for PSU then even though I had hated them because I was there 01-05 and penn state was terrible then so it didn't matter. then a few years after I graduated I went to Pitt for my teaching certification. I honestly root hard for both teams, I was probably the only college football fan in the world that was upset they started playing again because I didn't want one of them to have to lose haha.

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  11. Chris,

    I always enjoy your articles. I wish there was more. I think the new AD needs to take a serious look at Narduzzi's compensation and make an adjustment after this year to the 3.5 mil range.

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    1. I'm optimistic but let's not jump the gun, he's 13-10 against 1A teams

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  12. Scratch Bastida from the list. Pitt is no longer interested.

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  13. Do you know why Pitt is no longer interested.

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    1. I don't think Pitt was into him as much as he led on. Plus, Wendell Davis took his spot.

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  14. Chris,
    Are the chances high that Paris doesn't make it to Pitt this upcoming season?

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  15. No TJ Banks now that Alaimo has committed?

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  16. Chris, been awhile, hope you are well. Is Jurcovec a Pitt possibility if/when Kelly gets the boot from ND? I see bad things happening at ND which would lead to Kelly's ouster. He is on the hot seat this year for sure. Seriously, if Pitt is opportunistic, which I think they are, they keep in contact with the qb.

    I like the new TE prospect too, but the above might complicate that situation.

    It was a question and I am hearing very little on Jurco and the ND coaching situation. Would appreciate your slant.

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    1. I think he's all Notre Dame, and I don't see him changing to Pitt. He reportedly did not do that great this summer however, so you never know if Kelly gets replaced and a new coach wants to bring in a different QB. But I wouldn't get my hopes up.

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  17. I have to agree the kid wants to go to ND regardless of who is head coach, it's his dream to be the starting QB for the Irish, can't fault him for that.

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    1. Not a great look that the by far best WPIAL players in both football and basketball are both going to Notre Dame.

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    2. At least you're consistent in your pessimism.

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  18. You understand that sports-wise one of the things that would make me happiest as a fan is Pitt having good teams. I get disappointed because I read your updates and people's comments because there is good info, but it gets my hopes up and they never deliver. I'm not so much pessimistic as just constantly let down.

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    1. I'll tell you the facts, as I see them.

      The Pitt football program is good, and they are on the verge of being very good. And if you're very good, you always have a puncher's chance one year where everything goes right and you have a chance for a 12-2, top 10 season. Not saying that will happen, but it's possible as long as Narduzzi is there.

      As for basketball, Stallings had a lot going against him. He had to get rid of a lot of dead weight, then stabilize the program by adding some good players. That's what he's done. I expected all of that to happen. But from here on out it is where the real questions are. Stallings has to recruit well enough and coach well enough in the next 2-3 seasons to remain the coach. It's way too early to see if he'll do that, but he's got the first two phases completed. Phase three is the hardest.

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    2. See now I basically agree with all of that. But I do think that to reach that level, recruiting needs to get a level above where it is at for both programs. I'll give Stallings a break recruiting-wise because it's his first year and no one could've predicted the magnitude of this disaster, and that's partly Dixon's fault. So we'll see how Stallings does with the 2018 class. That first recruit puts it off to a decently good start. Though the fact that it seemed like Pitt either wasn't interested in Carmody or he never really considered them is disappointing.

      For Narduzzi, it's his third class now, and while they have some decent guys in there, the ACC is a good football conference with a lot of schools that also are currently recruiting very well. I just think if he wants to close the gap there, your recruiting classes can't just be "solid", they have to actually be really good, because many ACC teams' classes are.

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    3. Who says that Narduzzi's classes are just solid, because they're giving you bad information.

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    4. I look at rivals. I mean you can debate the accuracy of rivals but both the rankings of each individual guy and overall class rankings for the past 3 years including this one are bottom half if you're looking at just major conference teams. I don't know how much rivals knows or not but their rankings have more or less matched with Pitt's results on the field in the past.

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    5. Believing internet recruiting websites is a common problem.

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    6. Well I'm sure they're not 100% accurate but who else can you believe? Obviously the coach isn't going to say "well we're really disappointed 3 guys passed and we had to settle for this guy". Neither are the fans. They may not be right on everyone but they are at least fairly objective. And honestly, they seemed to be pretty accurate about Pitt's classes in the past. Wannstadt was getting classes between 25-40 and the team was about the 25th to 40th best team most years. Chryst was getting in the 50s and those teams probably were about the 50th-60th best teams or so.

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    7. Narduzzi knows more than anyone at Rivals, trust me.

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    8. I 100% believe you that Narduzzi knows more than anyone at Rivals. However, that only matters if he had his choice of any prospect.

      He's not selecting 3-star guys over 4 and 5 star guys that want to come, he's just picking the best from the guys he can actually get. That said, I trust him to pick above-average guys from that pool, but they still aren't going to be better than the guys who everyone (including Narduzzi) knows are top 250 but who just don't want to come to Pitt.

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    9. That's where you go off the rails. You're assuming the kids that Rivals calls the 4 or 5 star prospects really are the 4 or 5 star prospects. I talk to the coaches, and I can assure you that they are getting kids that they really wanted. Look at Jay Symonds. He's a supposed 2 star prospect and Pitt targeted him early as someone they wanted.

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    10. I definitely believe that is possible. But I need to actually see it on the field to be convinced. Since most of the "Narduzzi guys" haven't seen the field yet, it's reasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. But this year the secondary will have highly rated Narduzzi guys at 3 of the 4 spots and the other will be a 3rd year starter senior. So if that secondary is still awful, he will deserve criticism for his recruiting.

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    11. Actually what I said was a mistake, because the secondary is the one place he did get high rated guys. Somewhere like linebacker and receiver is where he's gotten guys that aren't all that impressive. So we will see how those guys do.

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  19. 35th rank classes aren't going to be able to compete with Fsu/ Clemson

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    1. I'm pretty sure they just did this past season.

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    2. Clemson won the national title and FSU went 10-3 and won the orange bowl.....Pitt improved but don't pretend they were on that level, upset victories aside.

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    3. And if you think Pitt will ever be FSU or Clemson then just quit watching right now, because you will never be happy. Some Pitt fans live in a dream world when it comes to football and basketball. Neither are going to be among the very best programs so you better get used to the fact or you'll always be disappointed.

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    4. I don't understand what you're saying. You're the one who said they just competed with FSU and Clemson this past season, not me. I've been trying to say they aren't going to ever be that good this whole time.

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    5. No, someone said 35th ranked classes can't compete with FSU or Clemson. They just beat Clemson so obviously they can compete with them.

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  20. Should we thank Charlie Partridge for the quality of line recruits we are getting this yea

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  21. Charlie in my opinion is the defensive coordinator in waiting.

    He is a very good recruiter and coach, right now he is the defensive line coach but you have to believe his next step is coordinator at Pitt, imo.

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  22. Bigger get for Pitt...Asamoah or Raines?

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    1. They're both huge, but for PR reasons you don't want to lose an elite Aliquippa player to Penn State.

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  23. @pitt guru posted Raines to Pitt. Hope it's true.

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  24. Don't start rumors David. You are confusing recruiting tools for commitment

    Reel Big Fish

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