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February 4, 2009

Holy crap. Way to not even let the ink dry on the NLIs.

Pitt football offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh is expected to take a job as an offensive assistant with the New York Jets, likely working with quarterbacks, according to a source.

Cavanaugh has been at Pitt since 2004, when head coach Dave Wannstadt hired him. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.

“We all know Matt’s a great coach and I’m sure a lot of other people out there will be interested in giving him another opportunity,” Wannstedt said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if people had an interest in him, but at this point, I have nothing to say about it,”.

Stunning. I have to say I did not see this coming.

I’m thrilled. I was resigned to Cavanaugh returning and being here for more years.

Of course, it is still up to Coach Wannstedt to hire the next OC.

I’m not holding my breath for a creative and innovative coach. I expect he’ll be some ex-NFL retread that goes back years with Wannstedt. I’d love to be optimistic that he’ll go out and get a college guy like he did on the defensive side, but I refuse to get too far ahead of things.

The one good thing I can think is that you have to believe Greg Cross’s chances of being on the field for more than one game this year has just improved.

Officially Announced 2009 Class

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 4:31 pm

Pitt has the press release announcing the 2009 football signing class.

“We have been fortunate to sign some quality recruiting classes the last four years,” Wannstedt said. “I believe our 2009 edition is a continuation of that strong pattern.

“While recruiting these young men, the message we continually received was they want to be part of what we are building here at Pitt. This past season was a big step forward for our program. These recruits noticed that and believe they can help us make even greater strides in the future. That’s the goal and that’s why we put such a heavy emphasis on recruiting outstanding players and people.”

Pitt’s class is comprised of players from six different states. In addition to Pennsylvania, the Panthers’ recruiting arm stretched to New Jersey, New York, Florida, Texas and Maryland.

Pitt’s 2009 class includes:

· Four players named All-Americans by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, including tight end Brock DeCicco (Thomas Jefferson), defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell (Steel Valley), defensive lineman Jack Lippert (Central Dauphin) and wide receiver Todd Thomas (Beaver Falls).

· A total of six players named All-Americans by either PrepStar or SuperPrep recruiting annuals, including linebacker Dan Mason (Penn Hills), who was honored by both publications.

· Nine players who earned Associated Press All-State honors in Pennsylvania. Todd Thomas was named AP All-State each of the last three years at Beaver Falls — and at three different positions (receiver, running back and defensive back).

· Five of the top 12 prospects in Pennsylvania according to, the most of any school.

· Five players from New Jersey high schools, the Panthers’ most signees from the Garden State since the mid-1980s. The group is led by PrepStar All-America all-purpose back Ray Graham (Elizabeth).

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? put’s Pitt class at #28. is not as high on the class, as Pitt checks in at #47.

Around the Big East, WVU might be the top class —, #27;, #22 (not ranked in ESPN/Scouts, Inc., top 25.

Or Rutgers —, #38;, #29; ESPNU/Scouts, Inc., #19.

Or USF —, #29;, #24; ESPNU/Scouts, Inc., #24.

Just eyeballing things, I’d put the order of the top 4 classes as:

  1. WVU
  2. USF
  3. Rutgers
  4. Pitt

As for the rest:

Cinci —, #59;, #53

UConn —, #75;, #71

Louisville —, #76;, #63

Syracuse*  —, #113;, #91

Syracuse still has a good shot to move up a bit if they can get Oku, but he appears to be leaning Auburn.

Louisville’s class is tricky to judge with 8, count them, 8 JUCOs.

NLI Day 2009

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:49 am

Well, it is all underway. Here are the primary sources from PantherLair and PantherDigest.

At this point here are the commits who both sites confirm as signing their Letter of Intent (LOI).

Fernando Diaz — OL
Kolby Gray — QB
Cory King — OL
Dion Lewis — RB
Jack Lippert — DE
Bernardo Nunez — DE
Devin Street — WR

PantherDigest is also listing:

Raymond Graham — RB

I’ll be updating as it comes through.

9:10 UPDATE: PantherLair has also confirmed Graham.

Both sites have added:

Tyrone Ezell — DT

PantherLair is now listing :

Dan Mason — LB

Nearly halfway through the verbals.

9:30 UPDATE: PantherDigest still has not listed Mason.

9:50 UPDATE: Mason is on both lists now.

Also signed according to both:

Ed Tinker — WR

Kevin Adams — RB

Carl Fleming — DB

Panther Lair has also added:

Jason Hendricks — RB

At this rate, it will be over by noon.

9:55 UPDATE: One more from PantherLair:

Todd Thomas — WR a little faster than this year.

10:35 UPDATE: Still nothing updated from has added two more:

Brock DeCicco — TE

Ryan Schlieper — OL

That leaves just 4 verbals without confirmed LOIs at this point.

11:13: UPDATE:

PantherLair has added two more to the signed list:

Shane Gordon — LB

Jason Douglas — RB

PantherDigest has not updated in some time.

12:10 UPDATE:

PantherLair puts one more in the signed category:

Juantez Hollins — OL

There are reports that Will Clarke will not be signing today.

That wraps it up, except for the outside chance that Malcolm Bush, a 3-star TE from NJ decides to join Pitt.

Yes, I Know NLI Day Is Here

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 12:33 am

Or it will be in mere hours.

I really haven’t written much about it in January. Mainly because there has been little noise on the matter with Pitt. The recruiting finish has been a trickle of late verbals that seem solid enough, but aren’t exactly the stuff of headlines.

Pitt had a late commit with scholarships opening up as some attrition occurred.

North Allegheny High School football player Ryan Schlieper has backed out of a verbal commitment to Maryland and will instead play at Pitt.

Schlieper, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman and a member of the Post-Gazette Fabulous 22, had committed to Maryland last summer. But he always held out hope that Pitt might offer a scholarship.

It’s one of those instances where he has always wanted to be a Panther, but it wasn’t happening so he accepted the Maryland offer. Then...

“The reason why I decommitted from Maryland and committed to Pitt is because [playing at] Pitt was a long-time, childhood dream of mine,” Schlieper said. “I always wanted to play for Pitt. I’ve grown up watching Pitt and rooting for Pitt.”

Schlieper, whose high school is less than 30 minutes away from Pitt’s campus, insisted he had nothing against the Maryland program. He just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to play for his hometown team.

“I was completely happy with Maryland and thought it was the greatest thing ever,” Schlieper said. “I was done with everything in recruiting. Then all of a sudden I get a call from Pittsburgh. And I thought to myself, ‘this is your school, this is where you wanted to be and what you’ve wanted to do all your life.’”

Maryland was, well, a bit miffed.

Schlieper, who primarily played left tackle this season, said the process of decommiting was difficult.

“It’s a long process,” he said. “A lot of (Maryland) coaches wanted to talk to me. I got an earful a couple of times.”

Another call went to Seneca Valley quarterback C.J. Brown, a rival of North Allegheny in the Quad North, who committed to Maryland last year and plans to sign with the Terrapins.

“I felt like I let C.J. down, but being the quality type of kid he is, he said, ‘No hard feelings.’ “

So Pitt gets a 3-star OL who really wants to be here.

Not that Pitt had everything go their way. Isaac Holmes, a 4-star DT out of New Jersey, was down to Pitt or Maryland. Then he threw everyone a curve by making a last minute decision to go with Rutgers.

Josh Evans, a NJ safety, still hasn’t made a decsion. The 3 or 4-star recruit still has Oklahoma and Florida after him. So there is that to watch.

And because recruiting never stops, Coach Wannstedt has already been working to see if he can get a QB for the 2010 class.

I’m told Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt was in town a couple of weeks ago to keep in contact with Wilson QB Tyler Smith, who had attended the Panthers’ quarterback camp. With his size and powerful arm, Smith will certainly be one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in Pennsylvania next fall.

Nothing about him on the recruiting sites.

Meanwhile, here’s a good story on one of Pitt’s better recruits for this class, DE Jack Lippert.

“He’s a much different person on the football field,” said Rees Judge, a Central Dauphin defensive back and Jack’s best friend. “It surprises me a lot. It just doesn’t seem like him.”

Jack can be mellow as an autumn sunset. Until kickoff.

Then the fire rages.

“There really isn’t anything better than coming up behind a quarterback when he doesn’t know you’re there and just laying him out,” Jack said.

“Once he gets his first sack or his first big hit, that’s it,” Judge said. “He’s just out of control. He’s just on from there.”

For three bone-jarring seasons, McNamee and his staff stationed Jack on the defensive line’s weakside edge, where there was no tight end to hinder his path to would-be passers. Jack registered 19 sacks and 121 tackles over his final two seasons.

“He had that ability,” McNamee said, “to just have a huge impact on the game.”

All this from a kid who only began playing football in seventh grade, a blip in today’s youth-sports-crazed culture.

Jack burned for football earlier, but his local midget league forbade him to play.

“I was always too big,” he said.

Pitt also comes in for a mention down in Florida in a story on recruiting and building relationships with the HS coaches.

[Cypress Bay coach Mark] Guandolo has coached in South Florida for more than 20 years. He’s built relationships with college coaches across the country. One such connection is with Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt, who signed one of Guandolo’s former Chaminade-Madonna stars, Gus Mustakas.

Mustakas is having a solid career with Pittsburgh, something that stuck in the mind of one of Guandolo’s current players, Jason Douglas.

Douglas, a running back, says that the combination of his ability and Guandolo’s help were key in gaining Pittsburgh’s interest. Once the Panthers offered, he sat down and spoke with his coach — a Pennsylvania native — about what was next.

“The first thing Coach G did was give me the pros and the cons about Pittsburgh,” Douglas said. “He told me about how it was a football town, and he told me about the different weather and the school. He really helped me out a lot.”

Probably told the kid a lot about the weather.

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