Losing OT Dorian Johnson to Penn Sate sucks.
There are no two ways around that. Here was a four star recruit at a position of need for PITT, ranked either 13th or 23rd nationally at his position and after visiting PITT numerous times makes a spur of the moment decision to attend that school while riding in the car on his way back from a PSU visit. It was a big swing and a miss for Paul Chryst.
PITT will have another good or bad day on Sunday, July 1st, when QB Tra’von Chapman, another four star, ranked 11th at a position of (big time!) need, makes his college choice. Supposedly he’s been a strong PITT lean but the same could have been said for Johnson. We await with bated breath, as do we for everyone’s superstar recruit #4 ranked WR Robert Foster who is probably good enough to start next season as a true FR.
Clairton’s four star WR Tyler Boyd is another prime prospect and right in our back yard. IMO if we can land two of these four that will be a darn good start for Paul Chryst’s time at PITT but we are fighting heavyweight programs nationwide for these player’s services so it’s an uphill battle.
Now, I’m not one for blindly adhering to the ‘star’ ranking system and I’m on record about that, but these four kids are Blue Chip players as defined by the offers they have received. Look at the links provided above and you’ll see that these players are being recruited nationwide.
The bottom line is that there isn’t a laundry list of great four and five star recruits in the WPIAL each year any longer. Jerry DiPaloa of the Tribune-Review has a good article on that this morning explaining how PITT has fared with recruiting these players in the past. Not too bad actually. Each of these highly ranked kids from our immediate area is an important recruit for PITT as it shows that we can compete with the big boys in the recruiting arena.
Chris Dokish of The Panther’s Prey wrote a long and detailed article on how he feels where the state of PITT’s recruiting is today.
As for my opinion Chryst’s recruiting so far? As much as I want Chryst to land all the big fish in the WPIAL/WPA area I think that might not happen and I truly can’t fault any kid and their parents who look at the PITT football program with a jaundiced eye right now.
The instability over the last 20 months is very hurtful for PITT when it pertains to a player and his parents looking at what the next four or five years will bring. It isn’t enough to say PITT will be stable and fruitful for the recruit because we just don’t have that track record to point to.
Right now PITT is poised on the tip of the balance scales in that we can go either direction as a program. The trend as we speak is downward – as much as we may have faith that Chryst will be a successful HC the bald truth is that since the end of the 2009 season we’ve been tracking down in both the play on the field and in the off the field aspects of the program.
Think about it – in 2010 we had those four nationally recognized violent discipline incidents launching us to a stay near the top of the Fulmer Cup standings and then there was the SI article and whatever we fans believe the media latched onto that in a big way, both locally and nationally. To top it off we matched that with a mediocre 7-5 regular season. Out goes Dave Wannstedt.
Then we entered into the Travelling Circus with Todd Graham, Keystone Kopped our way to a 6-6 regular season and then watched Graham tap dance his way to Arizona without even formally telling anybody. Actually he was lying through his teeth as he shuffled off to Tempe.
Blah and retch.
I think we PITT fans forget that these are the types of issues recruits and their families take a long hard look at when making this important commitment decision and, sad to say, these facts are the baggage that Chryst was presented with when he signed on. That is a figurative 50 pound tumor between the shoulder blades of his back.
I’ll pass along a second hand anecdote I heard about this subject. In a discussion a few months ago about recruiting one of those big time targets asked an interviewer “Is Paul Chryst going to be fired if he wins 10 games?“. Regardless of how one feels about the personnel move to fire Dave Wannstedt, this is the type of valid questions these recruits have. There is a lot of trepidation out there when it comes to PITT football right now.
We fans tend to look at only the pure, on-field, football playing aspect when discussing recruiting but we aren’t the ones making that tough decision. The recruits and especially their parents are also concerned about the 360 degrees of how well their son is going to be taken care of during his college time and with what support system, most importantly the person with the responsibility and authority as the Head Coach, will be in place for that overall success they want for their son.
This is a real “show me” instance vice a “we promise” one.
We are hearing that each of these higher ranked recruits who have chosen to play elsewhere say that they love PITT and they love the new coaching staff – yet they commit elsewhere. There is a reason for that; the nagging feeling that the turmoil may not be over yet for our program. PITT just doesn’t have a strong recent winning tradition to fall back on when stuff like this happens to us like OSU and PSU do. Their reputation is such that they can weather storms and continue to draw top shelf recruits, PITT doesn’t have that luxury.
All this said, I look at the current commit list Chryst has and feel pretty good about it. I think he is taking a realistic look at what players he needs to get his football team on the field and is recruiting toward that. But a roster full of these type of recruits means that every other aspect of team play has to be right for success – I don’t see any LeSean McCoy types who can carry a team on their shoulders.
The answer is that one decent and solid winning season, with no extraneous negative news, under Chryst’s belt is going to make all the difference in the world for our 2014 recruiting class. It will show stability of the program and a break in the slide of actual football PITT has been playing. But right now… we can’t point to something that hasn’t happened yet.