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March 20, 2012

Chas has been doing great articles on the spring practices so far so I wanted to add a little something to Chas’ article yesterday about our first verbal.

Chryst just landed TE Scott Orndoff as his first verbal of the 2013 class.  He’s a good one ranked as the #13 TE nationally and a kid who had great offers to choose from.  He would have racked up more as his SR year went on.

Orndoff had verballed to Chryst and Joe Rudolph last summer but with those two leaving Wisconsin he opened his recruitment back up again.  An interesting point in his decision making is that he made his final decision in the car with his father on the drive back from an official visit to Michigan… not too shabby at that, eh?  At that age I would have been asleep or drunk during a five hour road trip.

Here is a good highlight film of Orndoff’s JR season at Seton-LaSalle HS.  He had 20 catches for 385 yards and four TDs last season.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get another star if he plays up to potential this year.  One thing about this highlight film though – Orndoff is split wide on every play.

Makes you wonder how good of a blocker the kid is but he’s quick and agile after the catch.  Perhaps the staff is looking at J. P. Holtz as the Nate Byham Memorial blocking TE and Orndoff will fill the anti-Byham role by actually being thrown to.  History with the Wisconsin approach is that the TEs will see some real offensive action during the year.

All this made me think about just who we have had verbal to PITT after Chryst was hired and how they were rated.  We all know there is a lot concern about Chryst’s supposed lack of recruiting skill so let’s take a look again…

Since early January 2012 when Chryst was hired these players committed and signed LOIs to play for him:

MLB 72 ** Mike Caprara
(Woodland Hills SHS)
CB 123 *** Ryan Lewis
(Eastlake HS)
TE 10 **** J.P. Holtz
(Shaler Area HS)
OG NR ** Gabe Roberts
(New London HS)
New LondonWI
DT 65 *** Terrell Jackson
(Marion-Franklin HS)
OLB 18 **** Deaysean Rippy
(Sto-Rox HS)
Mc Kees RocksPA
S 35 *** Bam Bradley
(Trotwood-Madison HS)

Add *** Orndoff and we’ve averaged a solid three stars.  That is just about comparable to what PITT has done in the past and considering that no high school players or their parents have actually seen Chryst get results on the field, I think it is a pretty good start.

In addition, for those PITT fans who were gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair about Chryst’s lack of verbals at this point, it may serve to look back over both Graham’s and Wannstedt’s results in early commitments.

Setting aside kids in Prep School who had already committed to PITT the year before we have these as the dates of earliest commits:

’13 – 3/19
’12 – 6/18
’11 – 5/19
’10 – 2/17
’09 – 6/4
’08 – 4/2
’07 – 2/18
’06 – 3/5

As you can see Chryst’s 1st verbal came earlier than four of the last eight years, some of those with an established coach with a track record to point to and he beat the average start date which was in April.

It has been way too easy for Chryst’s critics to point to his ‘slow recruiting’ when in reality he’s getting the same or better results that previous coaches did with a much smaller head start.  I don’t think we’ll see a flood of verbals now that ‘Chryst’s virginity’ has been taken as he’s going to have to rest awhile after that.  With all that has gone on since Wannstedt’s firing I think players and their parents are going to take a hard look at which direction the team and program are moving.  I’m leaning toward being pretty satisfied with the new staff and our level of play.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a huge winning season for recruits to sit up and take notice, Wannstedt crapped the bed his first three years and still pulled in good recruiting classes.  However, it does take a semblance of stability and progress which Chryst has to provide.

I just hope they don’t look at the attendance figures and decide on that factor…

I’ll try to get something up regarding the first week of camp soon, and will try to get up for a practice next week.

While recruiting is great sport and many here follow it closely, success or failure is always years away.

Even so called great recruiting, Wanny, ND, PSU, does not guarantee success on the field.

Very few complained about Dixon’s recruiting until this year, in fact most thought it was getting stronger every year.

It is fascinating how many experts we have that are already crucifying Chryst, (it is getting near Easter) so later they may be able to say “I told you so”. We won’t know how good he was for 2-4 years.

It does make for great blather though and it takes our minds off the last year.

Bring on more of the Myers vs. Tino talk, Hope springs eternal.

Comment by gc 03.20.12 @ 7:18 am

This recruiting talk is a broken record at this point, but I suppose there is nothing else to talk about…

Comment by Yup 03.20.12 @ 7:43 am

gc – we may be seeing the results of Chryst’s recruiting out on the playing field a lot earlier than two to four years, but I’ll agree that on average that is the test of how good a recruiting class is overall.

We’ll almost certainly see Shell play this season. Our OL isn’t good enough not to look at and consider Bisnowaty for scrutiny during the summer camp. Demetrius Davis could make it as a return man.

Rippy, Jackson, Bradley, Orndoff (#13 TE) and Holtz (#10 TE) all fill positions of need and could play as early as their FR years if needed.

Aside from Graham we don’t have a real blocking TE on the roster. Carozzoni is a favorite of mine but he’ll be utilized as a receiver more than a blocker. Same with Carswell if he doesn’t move back to WR. Holtz may get early PT to be another blocking TE.

If you look at the totality of the LB corps aside from Price, Thomas and Mason there really just isn’t anyone who jumps out at you. There are a lot of familiar names but none that make me sit up and think “I’ve got to keep an eye on this guy.”

Mason is still a big question mark even with the great progress he’s made. If he can’t go and if Thomas continues to be injured more than healthy the staff may want to get Rippy some PT and possibly move Bradley up to LB for depth.

Other than Donald and K.K. Smith we have…. Jack Lippert on the interior DL. Maybe Hale gets tried out there but we need defensive line depth pretty dramatically and Terrell Jackson could be in the mix there to provide relief.

I don’t think that the ‘cupboard is bare’ by any means but we have a few returning starters who are locks for keeping their jobs and after that we really don’t have anyone who is irreplaceable and can’t be demoted if outplayed in the camps. As a matter of fact, I think we have a bunch of average talent players in our two deep and some who are almost completely untested.

Every year we see some true FR kids get playing time and the same may happen this season, at least I hope so. Of all the recruits in the 2012 class I see those mentioned above as the best candidates for early PT.

Comment by Reed 03.20.12 @ 8:23 am

Good point about attendance figures. I can say that my group of season ticket holders in Section 535 increased from 3 to 6 last year and from 6 to 8 for the coming season. We’re a bunch of guys who raised our families and now we’re getting back together for Pitt football after a 30 year hiatus. We’re having a great time and looking forward to many more years rooting for Pitt. H2P!

Comment by Gasman 03.20.12 @ 8:27 am

I like the yellow asteriks!!!

Comment by Dan 03.20.12 @ 8:33 am

Reed, I believe the TE who is the “anti-Byham role by actually being thrown to” is called Dorin Dickerson.

If Thomas is healthy by the fall, I don’t think our LB will be neessarily weak .. especially with Price, Gordon, Grigsby, Rippy and hopefully Mason competing. There may be a lack of experience but appears to be a whole lot of talent.

I also think that Pitt will have its best DB corps in terms of both talent and depth that its had for a long, long time.

However, I do believe that what can turn the defense from good to really good is if one of the blue-chippers (Hale or Clemmings) finally step it up and can provide an outside presence to offset Doanld’s inside presence .. the addition of Murphy shoudn’t hurt.

Comment by wbb 03.20.12 @ 8:48 am

Yeah! They fell off the MBA gals picture!

Comment by CompLit 03.20.12 @ 8:51 am

My hope is that Chryst can craft an offensive line strong enough to run the ball and run clock. Hopefully with enough passing to convert third downs.

Keeping our defense off the field always helps and as WBB says we should have better d-backs to stop the big plays.

As Reed mentions we don’t have a lot of depth so if the injury bug hits again it will be trouble.

We don’t have any glaring weaknesses other than probably QB. At least we have experience and if Myers comes around some arm strength.

Add that to an excruciatingly weak schedule and we should win some games.

The big unknown is the coaching staff and whether any of the freshman make an immediate impact.

Anyway, it’s spring ball and if you aren’t optimistic I feel sorry for you.

Have any of you made any Mutually Beneficial Arrangements lately? I am too old but could live vicariously through your stories. Just joking, apologies to Reverend George.

Comment by gc 03.20.12 @ 9:16 am

We should be awfully strong at running back, even if the Great Ray Graham is not completely healthy.

A little surprised with the Ifill switch. He looked good on D. Wondering if its the depth on D or the shortage of quality receivers prompting the move?

I like WBB think the linebacking corp. could be the best in a while. Especially if Thomas and Mason are healthy.

With Donald, KK and Ezell creating havoc the inside linebackers should make a lot of tackles.
The ends will step up as well.

Maybe this year we will actually get the turnovers that Fraud promised.

Comment by gc 03.20.12 @ 9:40 am

Dan – those asterisks jump out at you don’t they?

wbb – I never though of Dickerson as a TE no matter what Wannstedt wanted to call him. To me a TE also blocks, Dickerson made his season by being more of a H-back I think. What a waste of Dickerson’s early career though.

Someone correct me if I am wrong but our DL will consist of a strong side DE, a weak-side DE and two interior tackles, correct?

We need Murphy to excel at DE which he’s capable of and Clemmings has to start earning his room and board (and classes). The early reports on Clemmings has been he isn’t nasty enough to allow his strength and athleticism take over and maul people. Hope he gets the message this year or he’ll be back-up again. I liked LaQuentin Smith as a LB and think he could really excel as a DE.

Hale is an enigma to me. How could a whole coaching staff watch this kid play in PITT’s own backyard and not be able to either figure out a place for him to play or not recognize his weaknesses?

Hale and Clemmings, both five star kids with experience and have contributed nothing so far. This is why I don’t get too caught up in the star system really. Those ranking just can’t take into account drive, desire and ability to adapt to college ball and college as a whole.

Comment by Reed 03.20.12 @ 9:46 am

I like Pitt on defense this season. People are complaining about the dept on the Dline but I dont see it. Just like any other team if the starters go down the backups are generally unknown qualities who need to step up.

I am also not worried about the Oline. We have some really big, strong linemen and I think they’ll really fit well with Chryst;s offense.

I am worried about QB though. Hopefully Danny O’Brien will want to transfer to Pitt (longshot I know) that way Mark Meyers can get some reps behind a good qb and get some experience for a year. And if O’brien gets hurt at least we’ll still have Sunseri for a season for a qb with game time.

Also to answer gb’s question.. I’ve never been in one of those MBA relationships but I am married.. thus am in a give and take relationship. I give her money and she takes it.

Comment by Hurriquake 03.20.12 @ 10:36 am

I watched Hale play in High School and he was a man among boys. I could never understand the switch from inside linebacker to end. Especially since we haven’t had anyone good since McKillop and the depth at end.

I know he has had injuries but at 255 he seems to light for end, if it is speed he would be better at linebacker. Is he not smart enough to call the plays at linebacker?

My guess is he is just not tough enough to get on the field. In high school he was the biggest guy. Maybe now that he has average size, he just can’t push guys around.

Certainly been a disapointment on the field. I hope he finds success this year ala Bostick in some other endeavor.

Hard to take with all Clemmings physical gifts that he might not have the desire to be great.

Let’s hope Murphy lives up to his promise this year. If he does the line will be fine.

Comment by gc 03.20.12 @ 10:47 am

Reed, I posted this on Dokish’s blog, and I’ll add it here since it relates to your post..

While I partly get why some people are fretting over Chryst’s recruiting so far, it’s really quite silly to worry about it until February.

We’ve acknowleded numerous times that Graham didn’t get that first verbal until June, but what many are forgetting is that many complained that those early verbals weren’t any good. By the time December hit, though, Graham was on pace to bring in a class RATED as high as Wannstedt’s best class.
And naturally, those same people started to freak out when some of those early “bums” decommitted when Chryst came aboard. Hilarious!

Comment by OriginalEther 03.20.12 @ 5:16 pm

Talking about flashes from the past, what is the rumor status of Brandon Sacco being reinstated back onto the team????? Anybody seen him in Spring practice?

Comment by Dr. Tom 03.20.12 @ 5:54 pm

Reed: Great post. The sky is not falling. Personally I am bored by all this recruiting talk and look forward to seeing what happens on the field this fall. Way too premature to even speculate on how good or bad this coaching staff will be. After Fraud Graham, they are a refreshingly upfront group.

Comment by John In South Carolina 03.20.12 @ 6:13 pm

I never get tired of recruiting talk during the off season. I also agree with Reed’s comment that you can’t put too much stock in the number of stars a recruit has. If you have faith in the coaching staff and their ability to recognize talent, then you have to let them do their jobs. As Dokish showed on his Blog the Wisconsin players had few stars than Pitt’s over the last few years and the Badgers did more then ok.

Comment by Justinian 03.20.12 @ 6:59 pm

There is one way to cure an empty stadium and mediocre recruiting. Its called winning. Not every game, not when your team is just over matched. But beating the teams you should, beating the teams that are equal in talent because of coaching, desire and performance and throw in the occasional upset. You put a good product on the field that is respectable and wins reasonably often(don’t lose to Cincinnati when your way ahead with a packed stadium) and guess what, fans will return, new ones will develop and the program will grow. Winning and being competitive is the cure for empty seats and poor recruiting. Hey get into the top 25 for a couple of years and win a decent bowl or two and guess what, people will forget how bad of game day coach Wanny was and they will buy tickets. More ticket sales and being ranked makes it easier to get four star guys making it easier to win. See how this works. Its not that hard. If WVU can figure it out then WTF is up with Pitt?

Comment by IH8PITT 03.20.12 @ 7:12 pm


i agree. but let’s get another person or two to attend with us. i feel pretty good about long term stability and continued growth. can’t help it. i always drink the koolade.

Comment by pittkeith 03.20.12 @ 7:43 pm

perception had better be reality for us and recruiting. Sell the future. Can’t change the past. Now if we had gone 10-2 each of the last three years, I would wear shirts that said so.

Recruiting kids is a tough job. I am more than pleased thus far and don’t overlook the fact that this is one year we were unable to take a recruit to a BE hoops game with real significance and a virtual assured win.

Comment by SFPitt 03.20.12 @ 7:47 pm

CompLit, good one, funny!!!

Great post and info as always Reed!

Comment by Dan 03.20.12 @ 11:41 pm

@Dr.Tom, I believe he is on the team. Several people on here a few weeks ago said he was welcomed back. Never got that confirmed, which really means, I just wasted 20 seconds of your time reading this!! Ha Ha I’m pretty sure he is back.

@gc, you’re never too old!! We’re about due for them to change the picture though. That will be exciting.

If you want to live vicariously through me, I stated on one of the basketball posts, that I’m infatuated with Andie MacDowell if that does anything for you.

Hey fellas, I missed the Standifer kid. I’m assuming he committed somewhere else??

Comment by Dan 03.20.12 @ 11:47 pm

@dan…Standifer went to Ole Miss.

I am still salivating over Robert Foster from CV…I don’t know his situation but I doubt we will have the “family advantage” that we got with Shell. Don’t know if he is really a realistic target, but watching him play on tv last year it looked like everyone else was standing still (including Shell)…the kid is lightning in pads

Comment by BCPITT 03.21.12 @ 7:13 am

Dr. Tom – Sacco is working out as 2nd string Center behind Turnley and doing very well. Grades and attitude are OK now and that’s good for our OL.

Comment by Reed 03.21.12 @ 7:26 am

Justinian – not to put too fine a line on it but that stars comparison was in a Blather article found here:

link to

When I re-posted some of it on Dokish’s blog he refuted it in the main. Doke is great to read IMO but I take some of what he says with a grain of salt as I’m sure most do with any blog writer, myself included.

We’ll have a much better idea by this time next year how good Chryst’s recruiting and use of player personnel is. I’m thinking we fans won’t be too disappointed.

Comment by Reed 03.21.12 @ 7:33 am

Thanks for the Sacco update Reed.

Comment by Dr. Tom 03.21.12 @ 11:00 am

You are welcome.

Comment by Reed 03.25.12 @ 9:37 am

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