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December 13, 2011

Here’s the situation. No one is happy with Tino Sunseri as Pitt’s starting QB. The thought of a third year of brain locks. Of holding the ball too long. Of staring down receivers. Of not setting feet. Of not being able to make accurate throws of more than 10-15 yards down field. Well, no one wants that. Not the fans. Not the coaches. To quote a race of hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional beings, “The prospect of doing it all over again… quite frankly gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies, you know what I mean?”

Unfortunately, at the present the options on the roster are limited. That means Pitt needs another QB for 2012 who can play right away.

Jared Johnson is not really a QB that can necessarily come right in and start in 2012 any more than Chad Voytik. Yet, he is being pursued by Pitt.

Johnson initially committed to Baylor last spring, but reopened his recruitment in October. He might still sign with Baylor, but he’s looking around.

He’s a dual threat QB, and a 3-star recruit across the recruiting services. He’s also capable of playing defense. Scout.com, for example, lists him as a safety prospect despite is apparent desire to play QB.

His biggest issue as a QB — height. He’s listed at anywhere from 6-0 to 6-2. As the ESPN.com evaluation puts it (Insider subs.):

If Johnson was taller he would be a high profile BCS level recruit. However, his height is limiting his recruitment, but…

Pause. Digest.Here’s the rest.

…that does not negate the fact that Johnson can really sling it. He has good bulk and a very live arm. His release is so smooth and consistent and he is capable of making every throw on the field when his feet are set. He is a pocket passer first. He possesses very good arm strength. Shows great zip on the deep out route. Shows touch and timing as a vertical passer. Can drive the ball downfield and will fit it into tight spots. Has a quick release and shows the ability to get rid of the ball in a hurry. He shows good overall accuracy. Displays nice RPMs on intermediate routes. Works primarily from the shotgun and wastes little time getting set, working through progressions and getting the ball out. He is a good athlete, but a passer first. Can and will run, can keep plays alive and throws very well on the move and when off balance.

The other negative cited, is that he doesn’t always do a good job with the footwork.

No highlights from his senior season, but here are the junior highlights.

Uninformed verdict: Closer to likely than unlikely.

Pitt is in the running, because Todd Dodge is in on the recruitment. Do not underestimate his impact in recruiting quarterbacks from Texas high schools. Johnson would be great to get because he would be a nice security blanket, but it may not be the best situation for Johnson. How much he can help in 2012 instead of Chad Voytik, seems to be a real question mark.

He’s still got offers from Oregon and Baylor. Both run an offense he can be comfortable. Not sure how interested he is in Oregon since they already have 2 QB commits for 2012. Baylor now can point to their Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III. Plus, they only have one QB in the 2012 class. Unlike Pitt, the Baylor QB commit isn’t a top-prospect. Neither, though, made his final cut (Insider subs).

Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound, dual-threat quarterback, said Pittsburgh will visit him Tuesday, and Texas State will visit on Wednesday. Johnson said Pittsburgh, Texas State and Memphis are the three schools that have made his final list.

Johnson said Pittsburgh’s move to the ACC is an attractive opportunity. He said that Texas State catches his attention because of the opportunity to help build a legacy. Texas State is jumping from FCS play to FBS play and a spot in the WAC next season.

Johnson added that Memphis is a major player primarily because of persistency. The Memphis coaching staff has been a part of Johnson’s recruiting process since the beginning.

I won’t lie. The final three is a strange list. Some of it may come down to how comfortable he is to be far from home. Memphis is less than 500 miles from Grand Prairie, while Pittsburgh is well over 1200.





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