Scout.com has come out with their updated recruit star rankings as they do a few times each recruiting cycle and our five committed recruits have all been awarded three stars. That is a jump for Shakir Soto, Aaron Reese and Jaymar Parrish from having two stars or being unranked. Parrish has also been designated as the #3 FB in the nation. Orndoff and Samuelson already had three stars next to their name. Congrats to them all.
As a result of the update Scout also released their updated team recruiting rankings. As of today PITT is positioned at #38 overall and tied for #28 in average number of stars. For comparison we were #40 for the 2012 recruiting year, #47 for 2011 and had a great year for 2010 under Wannstedt at #17 (overall).
That’s not too bad considering it is early days and especially considering the crap our football program has gone through over the last 18 months. It was a mess and we are dragging ourselves out of it one day at a time.
All of which leads us to this article about Paul Chryst’s recruiting approach written by Chris Peak of Panther-Lair.com. It is interesting in that he reiterates the fact that Paul Chryst has been doing pretty much what he’d said he do in recruiting when he was hired – let the University and the football program sell itself as much as possible.
Chryst and his staff have been very un-forceful in recruiting thus far. More than a few recruits have commented on how “laid-back” the coaches are; that term has been used quite often by the recruits themselves. When Cincinnati offensive line recruit Alex Gall visited Pitt this spring, the interaction with Chryst stuck out for that very reason:
“Coach Chryst told me he wants me to make the best decision for me. He was really laid-back about it. There are a few schools that are like that, but he really didn’t want to push me to make a decision. It was pretty unique how laid-back he was.”
Similarly, when four-star Belle Vernon offensive tackle Dorian Johnson was on campus last week, he had the same impression:
“I liked the fact that we just chilled. There was no pressure and they really didn’t talk about football at all. We just talked about my personal life. That’s different because usually coaches try to talk up the program and talk about football and all of that, and they really didn’t do that at all.”
Peak goes on to say that will be effective up to a point but sooner or later the hard sell has to come into effect. Chris Dokish over at Panther’s Prey addressed this in part earlier in March with this article (last paragraphs).
Dokish doesn’t like Chryst’s approach much at all and is somewhat baffled by it.
On Pitt football, it’s still at least a year before we have any idea at all how the Paul Chryst era will go, but I admit that so far I’m a little nervous. Before people go off on me I’m not saying that Chryst is a failure or will be a failure.
But I wasn’t impressed at all how he formed his staff and I have no idea what they’re doing on the recruiting trail. Well actually I do know and what they’re doing is very little so far.
It’s not about the amount of verbal commitments they have, which officially stands at zero, but rather the total lack of buzz on the recruiting trail. Part of what I do is to keep in touch with a lot of high school and college coaches, scouting services, players, family, etc., and I can tell you that there just isn’t a lot of Pitt talk out there.
Now remember that the above was written two months ago in March and things have changed with five recruits committed at this point. But Dokish has been consistently critical of Chryst and staff in this area. Not so much about whom we have gotten to verbal so far but what is happening, or not happening, behind the scenes.
So, what does that mean for us going forward and what is the impact of Chryst’s “laid-back” approach?
First off I think there is a definite and concerted effort on Paul Chryst’s part to project this exact image that he has insofar as recruiting is concerned. The one thing he realized he had to do as PITT’s HC was to be the Anti-Graham right off the bat. No hucksterism, no bravado, no hard line pressure that it must be “PITT or Nothing” with these recruits.
The common theme with the local HS coaches and recruit’s parents, at least what I’ve heard, is that Chryst is a breath of fresh air in his approach. They weren’t impressed with The Little Emperor at all.
This is what we wanted and I believe what most of us appreciate about the guy so far. He’s going about his business quietly and in fitting with his character.
The actual recruiting results at this early phase in the recruiting cycle are pretty impressive so far. He’s landed way more recruits at this date than either of the previous two (actual) head coaches with five commitments. As stated above he has PITT in pretty good shape comparatively with other schools which is more of a feel good item than anything else but it does show that we are holding our own so far.
But here is the thing. Before we get our knickers in a bunch thinking that we have a Rod McKuen flower child rather than a George Patton Field General as a recruiter let’s consider this. He and his staff haven’t had to fight for any of the high target recruits yet so we actually have no idea what he will be like when push comes to shove with the other schools.
Pitt is still at or very near the top of the list for blue chip players like #1 rated WR Robert Foster, #12 OL Dorian Johnson and others like RB Cory Clement and #14 S Tyler Boyd. These four recruits are well acquainted with the new staff and all have been to PITT for recruiting visits. Foster and Johnson are considered heavy PITT leans at this point. I don’t believe that would be the case if Chryst wasn’t pursuing them with some vigor.
All these kids, and many of our other blue chip targets have huge offer lists and Chryst will have to work long and hard to convince them that PITT is it. It is kind of silly to think that he’ll just float an offer out there while all the other schools are nailing the kid’s hands to the desk.
Peak addresses this in his article also:
The “laid-back” approach – a poor term due to its oversimplification – shows respect for the recruit and allows him to make his own decision. It also goes a long way toward ensuring that recruits who commit to Pitt are doing it because they genuinely want to be at Pitt.
But as the recruiting process goes on and the official visit season begins in the fall, Chryst and his staff may need to add the extra element of “encouragement” to their strategies. That adjustment may even be part of the strategy: start off “laid-back” and then gently apply more pressure as the recruiting process goes on. At this point, though, Chryst has only shown one side of the approach.
We may well see a bit of a personality change out of Paul Chryst over next year as we put more distance between the PITT football program and Todd Graham. He may be more aggressive right out of the gate for the beginning of the 2014 recruiting year.
For this year however we are going to see a HC who goes about his business with a minimum of fanfare and no bells and whistles. Still, the proof will be in the pudding and we’ll need to see results, regardless of the type of pressure applied.
So far I’d say the results have started coming in pretty well…