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April 30, 2012

Yesterday we saw how the Big East 1st and 2nd All-Conference teams shook out as far as star ratings for the players.  We did this to see what recruit rankings were like in our conference peer group. The results for the Big East were; 1st team Offense 3.0 stars; 1st team Defense 2.5 stars;  2nd team defense 2.5 stars and 2nd team Defense 2.6 stars.

Today let’s look at what those same All-Conference teams for the ACC, our future conference, have as far as star values.  Again, I used for the number of stars assigned to these players as HS seniors. If Scout had the player unranked (UR) then I checked To make it as fair as possible I used any numerical quantity between Scout & Rivals for the averages. 0/0 scores are walk-ons who weren’t rated at all; these are very rare and in compiling about 164 players only five had that score.

Something to keep in mind here are that the recruiting services give out between two stars and five stars, they do not have a one star designation and as I said the 0* score is extremely rare. 



QB-Tajh Boyd, Clemson (5)
RB-David Wilson, Virginia Tech (4)*
RB-Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (4)
WR-Sammy Watkins, Clemson (5)
WR-Chris Givens, Wake Forest (3)
OT-Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech (3)
OT-Zebrie Sanders, Florida State (4)
OG-Austin Pasztor, Virginia (2)
OG-Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (4)
C-Dalton Freeman, Clemson (4)
TE-Dwayne Allen, Clemson (4)
K-Dustin Hopkins, Florida State (3)
Spec.- T.J. Graham, NC State (3)

3.6 average stars


April 29, 2012

As a follow up to the post “Hitch Your Wagon to a Star” which looked at the Top 60 college producers in three offensive and three defensive categories, I compiled a listing of the Big East’s 2012 All-Conference 1st and 2nd teams.

I feel the true worth of a college player is actually how he plays in college and not how he gets drafted or is a free agent in the NFL. One of the points commenter’s on the other article made was that the Top 10 guys may have excelled against lesser competition than did some others (SEC players for instance).

I’m not sure I buy that but in light of that I wanted to see how players stacked up against their own level of competition and what opposing coaches thought of their talents. This is perhaps the best measure – how does one do against his peer group.

Again, I used for the number of stars assigned to these players as HS seniors. If Scout had the player unranked (UR) then I checked To make it as fair as possible I used any numerical quantity between Scout & Rivals for the averages. 0/0 scores are walk-ons who weren’t rated at all.



WR   Mohamed Sanu *   3
WR   Tavon Austin   5
OT   Justin Pugh   UR/2
OT   Don Barclay   3
OG   Randy Martinez   UR/2
OG   Art Forst   4
OG   Andrew Tiller   3
C     Moe Petrus   UR/2
TE   Nick Provo   3
QB   Geno Smith   4
RB   Isaiah Pead *   3
RB   Ray Graham   4
RB   Antwon Bailey   2
K     Dave Teggart   2
RS   Tavon Austin   (Repeat)

3.0 Average  (2.4 only)


I’m not saying that if Pitt had stuck to the 4-3 defense and the pro-style offense, that Pitt players would not have been shut out of the NFL Draft for the first time since 1999. I’m thinking it, but I’m not saying it.

Brandon Lindsey went from being a break-out player at the defensive end in 2010 to no-mans land with a change in defensive schemes. Playing in a hybrid linebacker/DE position that had him in no-mans land too many times.

Lucas Nix also suffered from the change in schemes with the O-line that made him look less productive. More importantly he suffered from injury that kept him out for over half the season. When you factor in the fact that Fraud Graham started questioning Nix’s toughness for not coming back from the injury as quickly as hoped, that probably raised flags for the NFL teams.

No doubt if Ray Graham had stayed healthy, he would have come out as a junior. The running back was putting up huge numbers and surely would have been a pick in the first 3 rounds.

Instead Pitt players will have to go the undrafted free agency (UFA) route to be on NFL squads. The conventional wisdom, being that it is better to be a UFA than a 7th round pick since you can pick the team and have a better chance/situation.


April 28, 2012

Hitch Your Wagon to a Star

Filed under: Coaches,Media,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 4:02 pm

  Every year about this time, when recruiting is usually the only thing of merit to discuss, the topic of the recruit’s ‘star’ rankings floats to the top of the blog leader boards.

  I’ve always been of the mind that I don’t really care that much what a PITT player does after college.  I know it reflects well on the school and the program and I know that recruits look at it as incentive also.  But IMO where the rubber meets the road is how well that recruit played during his college years.

  This subject is singularly pertinent to PITT fans as we now have a new Head Coach in Paul Chryst who has been tagged with a question mark when it comes to his recruiting abilities.   There has been a lot of hue and cry over a ‘late recruiting start’ which is unfounded compared to PITT’s recent recruiting history.  In addition, PITT just had a Head Coach in Dave Wannstedt who was pretty good at pulling in four and five star players but didn’t have much to show at the end of the day with those kids on the roster.

  This April 2011 article on written by Scott Kennedy addresses those drafted in the first round of that year. As to Kennedy’s article, I discount the number of stars players in the 1st round have as being too small a sample and of their being projected as to how well they will play in the NFL and on the specific team that drafted them.   It is fun to read and talk about but IMO it isn’t enough to base a solid discussion regarding player’s production in college though.

  So, using the NCAA rankings for 2011, I did some in-depth research based on the question “What were the star rankings coming out of HS for the Top Ten performers in college football this season?”  Basically I want to know how the top ranked players performed in the setting that we all care and talk about which is college football.  These rankings list top 100 players in Division I in individual categories so the sample used below is the top 10%.

  I used for the number of stars assigned to these players as HS seniors.  If Scout had the player unranked (UR) then I checked Rivals.  To make it as fair as possible I used any star ranking between Scout & Rivals for the averages so that an “unranked” wouldn’t skew the result downward.  To cover all aspects of the game I used three categories on offense: Rushing yards, Passing efficiency and Receiving yards per game.  I also used three on defense; Total tackles, Passes defended and Sacks.

The results are pretty surprising I think…



  1. LaMichael James, Oregon    3
  2. Bobby Rainey, Western Ky.   2
  3. Monte Ball, Wisconsin   3
  4. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego St.  3
  5. Trent Richardson, Alabama   5
  6. Bernard Pierce, Temple   UR/2 Rivals
  7. Zach Line, SMU   2
  8. David Wilson, Virginia Tech   4
  9. Robbie Rouse, Fresno St.  UR/2 Rivals
  10. Terrance Ganaway, Baylor  2

2.8 Stars on average                                      


April 27, 2012

Bad Sports Talk < Bad Message Board

Filed under: Coaches,Dixon,Media,Radio — Chas @ 9:55 am

Over 2 years ago, I made the following observation regarding a certain sports talk shock radio host:

…does anyone really believe Mark Madden has “reliable sources” anywhere in college sports? Really? The Pens, sure. Maybe even the Steelers. But at Pitt? In basketball? He barely acknowledges the existence of the sport.

This came after Madden cribbed a piece from The Big Lead over the open Oregon job, only he repackaged it to claim he had “sources” telling him that Dixon was heading to Oregon after the Final Four.

So you would think everyone would learn a lesson from this. Mark Madden, however, would hope you would forget it when he teased this on Twitter yesterday.







What Is Chryst’s Recruiting Plan?

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:23 am

Anyone else figure it out yet? I mean aside from the whole size thing.

If you recall, back in February Head Coach Paul Chyrst had a general press conference. One of the topics discussed was his approach to recruiting. The emphasis was on doing it smarter and better. Not having cattle call junior days. More advanced study of players by the coaching staff as to who they should recruit before they make offers. Not revolutionary, but a change from the now traditional approach that most programs use.

That seemed to explain the slow start to Pitt’s recruiting. Not simply in terms of the number of commits to this point, but the reports of the slow pace by which the staff was making contact and putting out offers to kids in the 2013 class. Chryst and the staff were being thorough in their research before extending offers willy-nilly. They were going to find guys who not only had talent and/or potential, but guys who wanted to be taught football and were legitimately interested in Pitt.

Plus, like it or not, there’s going to be a little caution from recruits about Pitt. When you have had more head coaches than Antonio Cromartie has fathered children in the same 12 month period, it doesn’t exactly promote an image of stability.


April 26, 2012

Size Matters

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 10:54 am

I realize Indiana is not exactly a hotbed of football recruiting talent. Check that. I realize Indiana is not a hotbed. It’s a flatland of emptiness and boredom you drive through as quickly as possible to get to Chicago — or anywhere else. (With apologies to Gary McGhee.)

Still, more than 40 years since Pitt got a football recruit from that state? Who knew?

Pitt received a verbal commitment from Plymouth (Ind.) Offensive lineman Dan Samuelson Tuesday. Samuelson, 6-6, 295, chose the Panthers over offers from Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and Wake Forest.

If he does indeed sign with the Panthers, he is believed to be Pitt’s first scholarship player from the state of Indiana in at least 42 years.

Years of losing in South Bend didn’t make it easier to recruit there. [Hmm. Just went over the history. Since 197o, Pitt is 6-11 at Notre Dame, but only 4-11 at home in the same period. So much for that theory.]


Oh, To Be a Chryst TE!!

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 9:10 am

While discussing PITT’s prospective passing game (hold the applause) on a message board this morning I came across some information that opened my eyes about how Chryst as an OC approached using his personnel to move the ball through the air.

Looking back over Wisconsin’s last five seasons it is apparent that Chryst loves to use his TEs in the passing game. His TEs were super productive and one was always in the team’s top three in receptions each season:

2011 – Pedersen, 30/356 yards; 8 TDs; 3rd in receptions

2010 – Kendricks, 43/663 yards; 5 TDs; 1st

2009 – Graham, 51/624 yards; 7 TDs; 2nd

2008 – Graham, 40/540 yards; 5 TDs; 1st & Beckum, 23/264 0 TDs; 4th

2007 – Beckum, 75/982 yards; 6 TDs; 1st


April 24, 2012

We have had some great long discussions about the QB situation at PITT and no matter how hard we wish, or how long we hold our breath, things will shake out as they may.  Given that the chances are that Sunseri starts on September 1st against Youngstown State,  or that whoever starts our passing game isn’t going to be all that awesome, let’s look at what Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph might do to accommodate those shortcomings.

I’ve read a lot of posters saying “Thank God for our running game!!” and we all know that could be our strongest offensive approach.  Some fans have said they think Chryst will do nothing but run the ball and throw only when absolutely necessary.  Some feel the percentage of running plays would be as high as 70%, which I thought was crazy so I did a bit of research.

Honestly, 70% may not be so ridiculous…

Depending on his personnel Paul Chryst, as OC at Wisconsin, tailored his play calling to work to his player’s strengths.  That is a good thing and something that was drastically missing for the Panthers last year.

For instance, in 2011 with Heisman trophy candidate Russell Wilson at QB, you would think that Chryst relied heavily on Wilson’s good passing abilities.  That really didn’t happen. Chryst had about 65/35% run heavy split last season.  It didn’t hurt that he had Monte’ Ball (1923 yds; 6.3 ypc) and James White (713 yds; 5.1 ypc) running the ball either though.

In 2010 with Scott Tolzien at QB, who had a statistically similar year to Sunseri’s 2010, Chryst ran a 68/32% run first split.  That year he had White (1052 yds; 6.7 ypc); Ball (996 yds; 6.1 ypc and John Clay (1012 yds, 5.4 ypc).  Those are some serious horses in the backfield and that is a big ground presence.

In Tolzien’s first year starting, 2009, Chryst ran the ball 59% of the time.  His RBs weren’t crazy productive as the next year but they still had Clay go for 1517 yds for 5.3 ypc average.

That is also a lot different than we saw in 2011 at PITT when we had a 55/45% split with Graham in the backfield and back in 2010 (Lewis & Graham) when under DW we ran a 57/43% split.  With Stull having his good SR year in 2009 (Lewis) we went 59/41%.  In 2008 with McCoy having his big year we went 56/44% to the run.

Looking back at DW’s offense I was surprised that they were so much more balanced.

Now, with Graham coming back, Bennett coming into his own and a decent chance that Shell will be able to contribute right away, we’ll probably see Chryst lean heavily on the running game.  Maybe not a full 70% but that wouldn’t be too much of a reach given his track record at Wisconsin.


Divining Dixon’s Intent

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:41 pm

Coach Jamie Dixon may know something we don’t. He may be laying groundwork for 2013 recruits. There might be something else.

I’ve assumed that the 2012 recruiting class is done. Finished. Complete. Nothing more to see here. Sure there are the rumblings of a Savon Goodman, but the numbers just don’t work.

Well, it does seem that Savon Goodman is going to draw out his recruitment. He’s visiting Seton Hall this weekend and will take another visit to Pitt.

Savon Goodman will visit Seton Hall early next week and Pittsburgh sometime after that, Philly Constitution coach Rob Moore told

Moore said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon has also been in touch about a visit but no date has been set.

And somewhere in there he has a visit to St. John’s as well.


April 23, 2012

Goodman Update For Today

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:16 pm

Savon Goodman continues to play coy about his decision for 2012. He hasn’t ruled out prep school. He hasn’t ruled out playing this year, with his family stating that he is eligible.

He was in Pittsburgh this past weekend for the Under Armour Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest. But…

This wasn’t the best weekend for Savon Goodman, who struggled offensively in a half-court setting

That was echoed in other reviews of performances.

The 6’6” forward mainly floated around the perimeter and when he did take the ball to the hoop, had trouble finishing — a rarity for him. On the recruiting front, Goodman said he has no particular list at the moment but claimed offers from Pittsburgh and Temple as well as interest from UCLA and St. John’s, adding that Villanova is out of the picture.

The possibility remains that Goodman will take a prep year and join the 2013 class but he is still unsure of when that decision will come.

“I don’t have much control over that right now,” Goodman said, “my family is handling all of that.”

I’ve been feeling a bit pessimistic about the chances of landing Goodman, the longer he has delayed his decision. It just seems that he is waiting for something else. Something he believes will be a better offer.


Plan for a Busy Thanksgiving

Filed under: Basketball,Football,Schedule — Chas @ 1:13 pm

Never too early to start planning ahead. Especially when it comes to the delicate issue of balancing your team with your family.

Thanksgiving this year is Thursday November 22.

Pitt has its final home football game on Saturday, November 24 against Rutgers.

Bookending Thanksgiving, Pitt basketball has the Preseason NIT at MSG (21st and 23d). The slate of other teams participating include Michigan (likely preseason top-10), Virginia, K-State and Fordham.

In a four-day stretch: 2 basketball games, 1 football game and traditional family dysfunction on display.

All things considered, I’m rather pleased with this set-up. No overlapping games.

Good planning suggests stocking up on your alcoholic beverage of choice for that stretch early.

First Defensive Commit

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 10:34 am

Had to take the weekend away from the computer. Saturday was my son’s 5th birthday. A house with a dozen or so kids his age running about for the afternoon led to a night of necessary drinking and silence. Sunday was more family time. So glad the kids are in school today.

While of the grid, Pitt got another commitment. Another relatively unknown, unheralded and unranked commit (mostly, 24/7 has 3-stars for him), but a verbal nonetheless. Future Pitt DE Shakir Soto from GAR (not to be confused with GWAR) Memorial High, verballed over the weekend.

“It was his third time he’d been out there,” GAR coach Paul Wiedlich Jr. said. “He was pretty fired up about them. He kind of knew he was going to commit to them. He just wanted to do it in person because they’ve treated him so well.

“Now he can focus on playing football and enjoying the rest of his junior year.”

Soto was named to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class 2A all-state team, Wyoming Valley Conference Coaches Association Small School all-star team and The Times Leader All-WVC team. He made a team-high 114 tackles and nine sacks. He also returned an interception for a touchdown and blocked a punt.

Soto also started on the offensive line for the Grenadiers, but has been recruited as a defensive end.

“First of all, they are getting a great student,” Wiedlich Jr. said. “He’s in the top 20 of his class. As far as a person, the kid has a tremendous work ethic that just transfers to the field.”

Because Soto plays at a relatively small school, it factored into not being noticed until recently.


April 20, 2012

An Unknown for the O-Line

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 10:12 am

I have not touched this for almost a week. Mainly because I was hoping to get or find something more on this. Pitt got a commit for the 2013 class. Offensive tackle Aaron Reese out of Chambersburg committed. Reese is an, uh, unheralded recruit. He has no rankings. No stars. No scouting reports and Pitt was his first 1-A offer.

Given Pitt’s lack of quality depth on the O-line, and faith that Chryst and Jim Heuber can develop him, there is some optimism. Not to mention the hope that Pitt found a diamond-in-the-rough before others. Since there was at least interest from programs like Wisconsin, Penn State and Rutgers. Reese is just thrilled about choosing Pitt.

“They have everything I wanted,” Reese said. “There are so many opportunities for me at Pitt, it’s just spectacular. I couldn’t find anything negative about it.”

Reese said Penn State may have been the original No. 1 school he was hoping to go to and he has visited Happy Valley many times.

“We didn’t think any school could top what they had,” Reese said, “but Pitt did. Somebody asked me if Penn State gave me an offer right now, would I take it? I’d have to say, no. I’m happy with my decision.”

Penn State and six other Division I schools have been in communication with Reese, as well as three FCS schools, but Pitt made a bold move early and it paid off.

Reese is listed at 6′ 5″ and between 280 and 290 pounds. He has a goal to be up around 305 by the fall.

Interesting side-note is that Reese really wanted to study culinary arts at school. Pitt and most of the other schools he had interest, however, don’t offer that option. Pitt will work with him to intern at local restaurants while Reese has opted to major in elementary education.

April 19, 2012

Woodall and Moore for Friday Surgery

Filed under: Basketball,Injury — Chas @ 3:42 pm

Both J.J. Moore and Tray Woodall will have surgery tomorrow.

Moore will have surgery to repair the fractured bone in his right foot, that he suffered last week.

Woodall will have surgery for a sports hernia. The injury he suffered at the end of the Duquesne game.

A sports hernia typically begins with a slow onset of aching pain in the lower abdominal region. Symptoms may include:

    • Pain in the lower abdomen
    • Pain in the groin
    • Pain in the testicle (in males)

Typically the symptoms are exacerbated with activities such as running, cutting, and bending forward. Patients may also have increased symptoms when coughing or sneezing. Sports hernias are most common in athletes that have to maintain a bent forward position…

That was not an injury that simply healed while Woodall was out. Woodall came back and played through the pain with a mix of pain-killing medications and just being tough enough to take the pain. Far tougher than I am.

The more I read about this kind of injury the more I cannot understand anyone who doubts Woodall’s dedication to Pitt and his teammates, or just how tough he is. He was definitely not at full strength when he returned and limitations were obvious, but he still went out there for the team.

Woodall’s surgery will have him rehabbing for the next eight weeks or so.

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