Depending on the recruiting service you prefer, Pitt how has three or four, 4-star or higher recruits in this class — Shell, Chad Voytik, Demitrious Davis, Corey Jones and Adam Bisnowaty have all been tagged in at least one recruiting site (ESPN, Rivals.com, Scout.com).
With the commit of Shell, Pitt’s recruiting class is rising in the national rankings (Insider subs).
“Aside from a strong power-base and ability to break first contact, Shell has good lateral agility the shiftiness to avoid through the hole which has helped him avoid a lot of punishment throughout his career. He can get outside with above average speed, make yards on his own between the tackles and is just a well-rounded back who the Panthers could lean on to help turn the program back into a Big East contender.”
Pittsburgh now has 18 Class of 2012 commitments and could push for a spot in ESPNU’s top 25 class rankings.
Realistically, though, as important as the big gets are — and they really, really are important — it will be the development of 3-star type recruits and the hidden gems — that will make the difference between mediocrity and contending for conference championships and BCS games. It will be getting those players that fit the system best and operate within it.
As a quick, probably meaningless but sure to be heavily debated thing. I’m going to do a quick and flawed review of the Pitt recruiting classes of 2008-2010. I’m not going to bother with the 2011 class because that was basically a lost year. I’m not going back any further because with the exception of eight players that redshirted, the 2007 class is in the past. Plus, I have to cut this off at some point.
Scout.com: T.J. Clemmings (5-star), Anthony Gonzalez (4-star), Bryan Murphy (4-star), Salath Williams (4-star), Todd Thomas (4-star), Aaron Donald (4-star)
Rivals.com: T.J. Clemmings (4-star), Bryan Murphy (4-star), Todd Thomas (4-star), Mark Myers (4-star)
ESPN: Anthony Gonzalez (4-star), Todd Thomas (4-star), Aaron Donald (4-star)
Hidden gems: K’Wuan Williams is about the best choice. 2- to 3-star CB. Now a starter in his second year and promising.
Busts: Hard to declare true busts this early. Bryan Murphy is academically ineligible so his future is a question mark. Brandon Sacco transferred/quit and that was not good. A case could be made for Salath Williams being buried at WR. T.J. Clemmings appears to be redshirting (I think) so I’m not putting him on this list.
Scout.com: Ray Graham (4-star), Dan Mason (4-star), Brock DeCicco (4-star), Tyrone Ezell (4-star)
Rivals.com: Ray Graham (4-star), Jack Lippert (4-star), Dan Mason (4-star)
ESPN: None. A bunch of really high 3-stars but none that reached the 4-star grade (79 points or higher)
Hidden gems: This one is obvious with Dion Lewis. Jason Hendricks also should be noted since both Scout and Rivals had him at 2-star.
Busts: Dear god, if character matters then. Jason “don’t arrest me I play for Pitt” Douglas takes the spot for his hit-and-run. Well, not alone. Fernando “Manny” Diaz getting the taser treatment.
DeCicco transferred because of the coaching change, so I won’t hold that against him. Jack Lippert, if you can name what position he plays these days you are really good. He suffered from being shifted around to both sides of the ball. Or as I like to put it, being Bokor’d.
Dan Mason’s brutal injury does not put him on this list.
Given their rankings, no real busts for potential versus output. But a lot of non-production. Honestly, the overall class list just depresses me.
Scout.com: Jon Baldwin (5-star), Shayne Hale (5-star), Lucas Nix (5-star), Chris Burns (4-star), Antwuan Reed (4-star), Cam Saddler (4-star), Greg Cross (JUCO 4-star)
Rivals.com: Jon Baldwin (5-star), Shayne Hale (4-star), Lucas Nix (4-star), Chris Burns (4-star), Antwuan Reed (4-star), Cam Saddler (4-star) and Jared Holley (4-star)
ESPN: Jon Baldwin (4-star), Shayne Hale (4-star), Lucas Nix (4-star), Chris Burns (4-star), Tino Sunseri (4-star) (no really, they graded him at an “80”)
Hidden Gems: Andrew Taglianetti has been a big, big surprise. I’ll give some love to Ryan Turnley who was 2- to 3-star offensive lineman and has made a better transition than expected to be the center. Not a star, but best available.
Busts: Shayne Hale is the headliner, but Chris Burns joins him on this list.
Not willing to put Saddler on this list because his knee injury as a freshman really was devastating. He has never had that quick burst since coming back. Cross was never given a chance.
What to take away from this? As usual, the star rankings are useful but not absolutely prophetic. 4-star or better players may not all be stars, but most have been at least average and have a place on the 2-deep if not starting in their careers.
It also suggests that recruiting under Coach Todd Graham is not too far off from what Dave Wannstedt was doing as far as the rankings with the talent that has been brought in. What is done with them is a different issue.