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February 4, 2007

Run-Up to NLI Day

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 4:32 pm

Boy, I hope there’s a time limit on jinxes, as Joe Starkey writes on how LeSean McCoy needs to come up Aces for Pitt (last week, Starkey wrote a piece on how Sam Young needs to be big on offense for Pitt to do well and Young promptly did not score against ‘Nova). The part that should really matter in the story was what the head coach at Milford Academy had to say about Coach Wannstedt.

“I felt like I knew him my whole life,” said Chaplick, who met Wannstedt last year during the recruitment of McCoy, who has verbally committed. “When I came to Pitt for the first time, he personally gave me the tour. You could just see in his face the pride he has in that school — and it wasn’t because he’s getting paid to coach. It’s in his heart.”

Any rumors of Penn State still trying to get McCoy were shot down by Chaplick, as well.

It also is clear that Pitt has officially joined the conga line of schools offering Terrelle Pryor in both football and basketball.

Jeannette football coach Ray Reitz used the word “crazy” to describe the past few weeks at the school as big-time college coaches are showing up to express their interest in heavily recruited junior quarterback-defensive back Terrelle Pryor.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt was in a school office with Reitz Friday while Notre Dame assistant Ron Powlus waited outside.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel came to Jeannette earlier in the week. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielama also have stopped by in recent weeks, as well as numerous assistant coaches.

The dead period of contact between players and recruits is now underway. No contact until signing day.

Rivals.com has their final ranking of the top-40 players in Pennsylvania. They have no 5-star players in Pennsylvania. According to their list (which does not include McCoy), Pitt has 9; Penn State 7; Virginia 3; WVU, UNC, Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers and Akron each with 2.

For the rankings, Pitt is #10 according to Scout.com, #23 from Rivals.com and #28 with ESPN.com/Scouts, Inc.

It wouldn’t be right not to note Ruben Brown being at the Superbowl. Granted it might not have happened if he hadn’t gotten a little pissed at his offfensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2003.

Another would be to say he nearly killed Kevin Gilbride, the team’s pass-happy offensive coordinator for whom Brown had developed a distaste for as the team spiraled to another losing season and Gilbride refused to emphasize the run the way a team that was turning the ball over far too often to win probably should have. At a team meeting following another defeat, Brown finally snapped, coming over a table at Gilbride after he began to upbraid Brown for a lack of leadership. The 300-pound Brown’s path was blocked by several teammates and he soon left the building, never to return. Brown understood he would be seeking employment elsewhere that winter.

With apologies to my step-father-in-law (and Buffalo native), when hasn’t leaving Buffalo been a good move for a pro player (or anyone else)?

Brown will be the oldest player on the field for the game, but still expects to keep playing after this year. Of course, Brown would never have become an offensive lineman if he had had his way at Pitt.

It all goes back to Aug. 14, 1991, when Brown was a redshirt freshman at Pitt playing on the defensive line. He was a star, one of the most highly recruited players in the nation, a Parade All-American. But Pitt had future pros, Keith Hamilton and Sean Gilbert, on the defensive line and needed help on offense. Five days into preseason camp at Johnstown, coach Paul Hackett finally agreed to the pleas of offensive line coach Bill Meyers and switched Brown to offensive tackle.

“I was very disappointed,” Brown recalled this week. “But I was behind two outstanding defensive linemen. I was upset, but there was a good reason for it, and I was fortunate. I wanted to get on the field, and I knew I had a good chance to start.”

Brown excelled at his new position. He started for four years, was an All-American and was a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, the 14th player selected.

A Pitt player on the O-line often means success in the superbowl.

Power Rankings Collected

Filed under: Basketball,Internet,Media,Polls — Chas @ 11:34 am

Let’s see, Pitt comes in at #8 on ESPN.com. In the voting this week for ESPN.com Pitt ranged from #3 (Fran Fraschilla) to #16 (Doug Gottlieb). Mostly Pitt was in the 6-9 range.
Luke Winn for SI.com moved Pitt to #9 and focused on the Gray puff piece from the Allentown paper. Seth Davis has Pitt as a #2 seed for the NCAA.

Jay Bilas writes about various teams that could get to the Final Four beyond Wisconsin, UCLA, UNC and Florida. He leads with Pitt (Insider subs.)

Why? You have heard the Panthers talked about in this rarefied air before, but Pitt has always seemed to sputter earlier in the NCAA Tournament than we expected. This Pitt team is different. No Pitt team in the past six years has scored with the ease of this team, and no Pitt team has had the quality depth on the perimeter. This Pitt team guards well like most Pitt teams have, but Pitt ’07 is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation — and a very good 3-point shooting team with multiple threats. The ball is not dominated by any one guard, and the Panthers are an outstanding passing team whose big men pass it almost as well as their guards. Most good shooting teams are good passing teams, and this team’s shooting opportunities are set up by very good passing and unselfishness.Why Not? Pitt does not shoot free throws well at all as a team, and down the stretch in tough games, the free-throw issues could make the difference.

Most Indispensable Player: Aaron Gray. The big man is a walking double-double who plays angles well and is an outstanding post passer who commands double-teams and opens things up on the perimeter.

Other teams he lists are Kansas, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas A&M and Marquette (“Why Not? The Golden Eagles are not consistent shooters, and in a tournament setting, the percentages suggest that will catch up with them. This is an outstanding offensive rebounding team, but in a one-game scenario, Marquette is held hostage by how it shoots the ball more than any other team on this list.”). Air Force and Notre Dame (???) are listed as “dark horses.”

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