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July 6, 2011

More link clearance time. This one on the football side of things.

More Zach Brown stuff. Nice thing for media on transfers. Everyone can talk right away about it. Coaches can talk freely.

“I’m excited about having him,” Pitt co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said. “I’m excited about the experience he is going to bring. He’s been in big games. He’s a big, punishing running back. Now, we have two veterans (backs) who have been in the game and understand what we want.”

Brown, who was twice voted his high school team’s most unselfish player, epitomizes what Pitt is seeking, Magee said.

“He brings a great work ethic and so much character. This is what we are preaching.”

Brown, who is from Florida, was down to Pitt or Wisconsin when he was in high school. Glad to see he gets a do-over, even if the coaches are different.

“It’s a great opportunity to play there and showcase my talents,” he said. “Plus it’s a great school academic-wise.” Brown has a degree in history.

Brown, who likely would have started the season no higher than third on Wisconsin’s depth chart, said the ability to play right away at Pitt appealed to him.

I’m sure the academics are a nice plus, but let’s be honest. It’s knowing he comes to Pitt and immediately has the #2 spot on the depth chart going into camp.

The story notes that Brandon Felder, the UNC transfer is still waiting to hear from teh NCAA about his hardship petition to be eligible this coming season.

Watchlists are starting. Ray Graham was named to the Maxwell for best college player. Brandon Lindsey was put on the Bednarik for best defensive player.

A silly list of the best duos on offense for each conference. Pitt is only mentioned at the Tackle position with Lucas Nix and Jordan Gibbs. I’m hopeful that we can revisit that list at the end of fall and point to the combo of Shanahan and Street at WR.

Summer jobs for Pitt players. Well, internships. Last week ESPN’s Big East writer profiled Andrew Taglianetti interning for the Penguins corporate sales division.

His dad, Peter, won Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. Andrew has always loved hockey and had a fondness for the Penguins. He worked in the locker room in high school. His twin brother, Jon, left the Pitt football team and now works as an equipment manager for the Penguins.

Andrew has gotten to know Penguins general manager Ray Shero, and reached out to see if there were any internships available. He was put in touch with someone else, sent in his resume, and got the job. He started May 15, and has juggled taking finance, economics and philosophy classes along with offseason conditioning work.

Max Gruder is interning at Human Engineering Research Laboratories in Shadyside, a Pitt facility designing equipment to help the disabled.

Gruder is part of a team developing low-cost therapeutic footwear for people in underprivileged countries suffering from diabetes and elephantiasis, which can lead to swelling and amputation of the feet, Pitt research has found. He said 500 million people worldwide are afflicted by the diseases.

The project is targeting Ghana where, Gruder said, people don’t have enough money to purchase proper shoes, making them vulnerable to disease transmission through openings in the skin on their feet.

“People are so poor they use any means possible to get a shoe,” he said. “Some people get two-liter Coke bottles, cut the bottom out and tape them to the bottom of their foot.”

Gruder’s team is developing the shoe and plans to market it in Ghana for less than $3.50. Gruder is working on a business plan to find affordable materials.

In between all that, they are taking classes. Learning a new defense, and taking part in conditioning drills. I spent my Pitt summers working a bit and being drunk. That may explain a lot.

Finally, since it is more than a couple weeks old, this piece on Graham and the offseason. The focus is on the kids dealing with the new workouts and conditioning expectations.

“It’s definitely been high energy,” defensive lineman Myles Caragein said. “That’s something they pounded into us in the spring. That’s kind of what we’re doing right now to make sure we’re ready for camp.”

Pitt players have been working out at the team’s South Side facility. While all college football players use the summer to get in better shape and prepare for the season, Pitt’s workouts under new strength coach Shawn Griswold have an added purpose. Graham has installed a high tempo offense and a defense capable of spreading the field, a drastic difference from Wannstedt’s pro-style schemes.

“I think the major improvement is just our conditioning level,” quarterback Tino Sunseri said. “When we first got out here in the spring, the first couple of periods we’d be running around and (we’d) get gassed. Now, the way we’ve been running so much with Coach Gris and the lifting we’ve been doing, you see guys out here and our legs are underneath us. We’re fresh.”

Pitt’s new look under Graham is part of a wider set of changes throughout the Big East. Cincinnatti is in Year 2 of moving on from Brian Kelly’s tenure, while Connecticut has a new coaching staff following the departure of Randy Edsall. Plus, just south of the border in Morgantown, W. Va., Pitt’s backyard rival is undergoing the tumultuous transition from Bill Stewart to Dana Holgorsen.

“It will be different, I think. It’s going to be challenging, even for us,” Graham said. “We’re coming in and learning new opponents as well. We have a new staff at UConn, a new offensive system at West Virginia. It’s going to be different and we’re looking forward to it.”

Safety Jarred Holley said that having a few new schemes, including some more uptempo offenses, means the defense has to make sure it’s on par with Pitt’s offensive conditioning.

“Just like our offense, everything is high octane and moving,” Holley said. “We have to be up on their level and at the same tempo. Overall, it’s a good thing for our team, especially in the fourth quarter. When we need to finish out games, we’ll be strong.”

33 days until Pitt’s camp opens.

33 days and counting…Brown will be a great addition IMO. I really like everything I read about his character and if you go back and watch some of his tapes from his freshman year, he has skills. I’m not too prideful to take Wisconsin’s third string back. Every situation is different and if he can help us both on the field and in the locker room, then I’m good with that.

Does anyone know what Felder was rated coming out of high school? I’m not a big recruiting stars/numbers guy but just curious.

Regarding the wr’s, Shanahan, Street and Saddler are the knows. However, I thought the talk last spring (from Zeise if I recall) was how well the other guys (Williams, Tinker, etc.) looked in camp too. Any word on their development and who emerged during the spring, if anyone?

Comment by JAM 05 PITT 07.06.11 @ 10:22 am

Brendon Felder – UNC = rated 74, 2 stars, ATH

Comment by desifitch 07.06.11 @ 10:33 am

are Drew Carswell and Todd Thomas (both 6’4) playing at WR or LB?

Comment by wbb 07.06.11 @ 11:33 am

I’ve heard Drew Carswell is in the running for H-back. Have heard nothing about Todd Thomas

Comment by BnG 07.06.11 @ 11:40 am

Todd Thomas is a guy who this coaching staff must get on the field. He will develop into a game changer on either side of the ball once he develops and gains experience. Injuries and academics have been his downfall up to this point. Another one with great potential is B.Sacco. I thought that he would be too small in Wannestedt’s offense but he just might be a diamond in the rough for the “O” line in this new wide open attack.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.06.11 @ 12:02 pm

new FB recruit

link to

Comment by wbb 07.06.11 @ 12:43 pm

I see he also considered Maryland, Toledo and Temple … one ACC, one Mac and one BE team!

Comment by wbb 07.06.11 @ 12:58 pm

Toddy Thomas is playing linebacker this year, I believe. He is one hell of an athlete and could be a key piece on defense.

Comment by PatMac 07.06.11 @ 2:09 pm


“I could probably build an argument that maybe he should’ve played this season and then see what transpires with colleges,” said Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render. “But he’s happy with Pitt, and if he’s happy with Pitt, I’m ecstatic.”

Read more: link to

Comment by steve 07.06.11 @ 2:12 pm

OMG another 2-star recruit. This program is going to hell in a handbasket. Fire Graham and his entire recruiting staff. We’ll never beat West Virginia again much less Penn State in 2016 with this talent level. I think I’m going to cancel in my season tickets and become a full time Riverhounds fan. 😉

Call me naive but it looks like a lot of these guys are 2 star because of their size (or lack of it) and relative anonymity. Graham seems like a smart guy. Smarter than the ‘stache in some ways – er most ways – (not saying ‘stachey isn’t smart, but man I was kinda surprised and disappointed by his lack of articulation when I heard him doing an interview for the first time). Anyway I’m giving Graham & Co. the benefit of the doubt – TG knows he’s going to need better athletes than he had at Tulsa – and he knows what he’s seeing in camps and on film.

Part of the competitive advantage, if you will, of the summer camps is to get a look at the local guys before everybody else and lock them in before everyone else. Is it too early to coin the phrase “In Graham we Trust”? Probably. Is it too early to be cautiously optimistic? No way.

Comment by Monte 07.06.11 @ 2:29 pm

Monte, nicely articulated. We don’t know what will transpire.

We do know that the current squad is much, much better conditioned than under Wanny and the players have a great deal of confidence in the coaching staff.

The downside for incoming recruits appears to be the unknown. Thus, will I see enough playing time? Will it be worse than Parris Island? So Tulsa wins 10 games…where is Tulsa?

It’ll probably take a year to sort this out. After all, Graham didn’t coach 2 NFL teams and is incapable of a “yinz.”

In the meantime…Pitt is a basketball school.

Comment by steve 07.06.11 @ 2:53 pm

He’s essentially a 3 star (3 star on rivals and espn, 2 on scout)

link to

Also had an offer from Maryland. Trust me we won’t know anything about this class until closer to Signing Day. There are 13 four and five star guys considering Pitt and they likely won’t decide until they see us play a full season under an entirely new coaching staff and play style. If they like what they see this should be the top class in the Big East

Comment by Tony C 07.06.11 @ 3:02 pm

First odds on who will win the National Championship this year. WVA is 25-1 and the BE leader. Pitt 150 – 1.

Comment by Dan 72 07.06.11 @ 3:50 pm

Dan, hoops or fb?

Comment by steve 07.06.11 @ 4:53 pm

Tony C… you said what I have been thinking.

I believe a lot of the higher rated recruits that are considering Pitt are going to play a game of wait and see. Too much is unknown about Graham’s scheme, especially for the recruits in the Northeast. Once they see what the system looks like, though, they will make a choice.

I believe that by year’s end we have between 3-5 highly rated guys (4 or 5 star players). I also believe that some of our current 2012 recruits will prove their value and their rankings will improve.

All that being said, do rankings really matter? I always look back to Revis… he was only a 2 or 3 star guy coming out of high school. He is now arguably the best DB in the NFL. Even Larry Fitzgerald was only a 3 star guy.

Comment by Panther3321 07.06.11 @ 6:17 pm

Safety Jarred Holley said that having a few new schemes, including some more uptempo offenses, means the defense has to make sure it’s on par with Pitt’s offensive conditioning.

“Just like our offense, everything is high octane and moving,” Holley said. “We have to be up on their level and at the same tempo. Overall, it’s a good thing for our team, especially in the fourth quarter. When we need to finish out games, we’ll be strong.”

Jarred Holley is no longer the slight kid who could only ankle-tackle. He’s now pushing 200 lbs of solid muscle.

Comment by steve 07.06.11 @ 6:37 pm

pretty sure that Fitzgerald was a 4 star and OSU wanted him badly, but Antomis Bryant was only a 2 star.

This time of year, a lot of 4 stars are considering a lot of schools .. do you really think Pitt ever had a chance for that 5 star OL from DeMatha last year? He was supposedly considering Pitt this time a year ago as well as Bama where his older brother went along with 4 or 5 other SEC schools too.

Comment by wbb 07.06.11 @ 8:21 pm

Hmmm…Some of the Press that covers our once in every 15 years or so rival to the North have some thoughts about “stars”: link to

Comment by HbgFrank 07.06.11 @ 10:01 pm

We just need to go out and play an exciting brand of football. When it comes to individual players, stars don’t always matter when it comes to team depth, it kindof does.

Comment by Tony C 07.07.11 @ 2:11 am

HbgFrank, Ive seen many times when a commit’s ratings went up a star AFTER he signed with a big name school. Two examples of this were the Pitt legacies (Ricketts and Dieffenbach) who went from 3 to 4 stars after signing with PSU in the sprng.

Now the ratings service claim that these guys are re-evaluated after viwieng films and seeing summer camp workouts, but I will always maintain that Scout and Rivals, etc also pay as much attention to how many bigs are recruiting them.

Comment by wbb 07.07.11 @ 7:31 am

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