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August 12, 2012

This morning we posted a scrimmage article about the offensive side of the ball, so let’s take a look at what when on with the defensive side.   My first  impression is this, we may not have a lot of experienced depth in the defensive 11 but our starters are going to be very talented.

I’ve had some real doubts about the staff moving Tyrone Ezell’s from DT to DE given his big size.  He’s 6’4” and 300 lbs and I wondered if he’d have the quicks and speed rush a good DE needs to have to get to the passer and set up containment.  Our two star DEs in the past years were much leaner with Greg Romeus being 6’6” and 270 lbs and Jabaal Sheard coming in at 6’4” and 260 lbs.  Those guys could get up and get out very quickly.

Forget about any problems you may think we have with Ezell on this score, he’s as quick as Aaron Donald out there and gets right into the QB’s face very fast.  He knocked down three passes today, two in the first series of the scrimmage and he came around off the backside to tackle RBs  like a flash.  He’s not a fat 300 pounds by any means and with his motor’s governor on overspeed he’s going to be very effective out there.

Our front four did well with Ezell, Donald, Bryan Murphy, who was splitting 1st team reps with T. J. Clemmings at the other DE spot, and with Jack Lippert, who played well at the second DT spot.  Lippert is battling K. K. Mosley-Smith for that position so Smith has to get healthy (thinner) and get right with the staff ASAP.  (I have to chuckle as I write this because of the strong opinions I expressed in the ‘Scrimmage 1-Offense’ post earlier today.  Hey, I predicted Jack Lippert was going to be our starting Center two years ago).

LaQuentin Smith went out early with an injury so I didn’t get a chance to see how he’d do at one of the DT spots after moving from LB to DE to DT in one year.  He gained 55 pounds since being recruited in 2011 so I supposed the least you could say is that he’s dedicated enough to drastically morph his body in a short time.

The line was getting good penetration and both Sunseri and Anderson had to be able to move and throw the ball.  This aggressive defense is going to be hell on the immobile QBs we faced.  Against the run they weren’t as impressive but I think that is due to the fact that our running game is going to be very good this season.

I think the same yardstick can be said about the linebackers.  Our RBs ripped off some big runs but that was due to the fact that they are pretty damn good RBs.  Yesterday the LB substitutions were pretty numerous and Todd Thomas didn’t practice at all.  Nick Grigsby, Eric Williams, Shane Gordon, Joe Trebitz and especially Manny Williams all rotated in and played pretty well.  Honestly they were kind of hard to tell apart at field level.  Ejuan Price seems to have floated down the depth chart.

Shane Gordon is a tough kid.  He got flat knocked out, laying face down like Wiley E. Coyote after falling off a cliff.  Stone cold out.  I was standing behind Ray Graham and he said “Shane’s a beast, he’ll jump up” and about five seconds later that happened.  Like he all of a sudden woke up and there was string on his back pulling him to his feet.  Gordon had absolutely no idea where he was or what he was doing of course but it was obvious as soon as he could put two thoughts together he wanted back into the lineup.

Let’s get this issue out of the way also.  Dan Mason is not going to be in the two deep this season and maybe not even on the 3rd string.  He just physically can’t do it.  However, if he plays at all I think it will be on goal line stands because he can shoot straight ahead and he’s still a beast out there.

His story is a great one, it is inspirational and he needs to be on the team even if only as a role model. On a personal note I dislike the use of the word “miracle” when it’s used in reference to what Dan Mason has been able to accomplish since his terrible injury.  To me, that’s an insult to Mason himself after the long hours of hard work and pain he endured to be able to suit up and get back onto the field in the spring. I understand he gives all credit to his God, that is his humility and is refreshing in of itself, but Mason did the hard work himself.  All that said, it’s pretty obvious he isn’t in this staff’s plans for the future.

The DB s and Safeties all played pretty well.  Some stood out like Layfaette Pitts who seemed to be in on almost every play for a while there. He’s going to be battling Michigan transfer Cullen Christian for one of the starting DB slots.  Ray Vinopal has good field awareness, closes quickly and doesn’t hesitate to put the other players into correct field placement for different defensive calls.   Bam Bradley leveled some excellent hits on ball carriers also most notably knocking the crap out of Rushel Shell on a sideline run.

On the special teams there were some problems with punts by Matt Yoklic over his first few tries but then he settled in and boomed some.  Layfaette Pitts had a very nice punt return.  Jones and Saddler were on the kickoff return teams and Kevin Harper hit all his field goal attempts.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell as far as personal observations of the defense goes.  I have to admit as a typical fan I am much more concerned with watching how the offensive players are doing out there and only notice the defense when they make a great play.

Some general notes:

People around the program call DC Dave Huxtable “The Pirate” because of his salty language.  He doesn’t hold back out there when he sees something that displeases him.  At the same time he was quick with praise when a kid does something well also.

At one point late in the scrimmage, when the players were getting tired,  a lineman jumped offside and Paul Chryst yelled “OK, it’s late in the practice, you’re tired and want to give up,  is that it?”  You could hear a pin drop after that outburst.

It looked to me like the staff got the work in they wanted to.  With 183 plays run they have a lot of film to watch and decisions to make before Scrimmage #2 on the 18th.  This is how training camp plays out.  The first week is getting a feel for what you have, the second week is firming up the two deep and the last two weeks are for using that two deep to get ready for the season opener.

I had a chance to talk with Kevin Harper’s parents for a good bit also.  Apparently Kevin has had his outgoing and goofy personality since childhood.  This video?  It’s the real Kevin Harper.

Breaking news @ 10:02 PM:  PITT just had a new recruit commitment from Luke MacLean, a Rivals three star OLB out of Grand Blanc, MI.





Yes we are 42 i think we should be 25 or lower every year.
if you are in sales do you want to be number 1 or 42 and if you are in sales you have a number that they can live with say top 25 but at 42 you are out of a job.

the point i am makeing is i want the best from pitt i dont want to settle for number 42 i want pitt to be the best it can in every thing.

give him time yes but just saying it looks loke he needs to hire some good recruiter next year.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.14.12 @ 10:00 am

you expect pitt to gobout of state and get kids with elite offers!!????!!!!??? not gonna happen without some connections!!!! what do you call corey clement???!!!???!! and he had mike vick shady and andy effin reid tellin him to go to pitt!!!! you guys get caught up in bs star rankings and offer lists, how about saying, oh our coach who has about as good of a reputation around football as it gets wants this kid, hes obviously worth the scholarship. NO! those bums at rivals who have no credentials say hes THREE stars, we need FOUR stars to win. this is pathetic. if you go by rankings, pitts 1 behind MIAMI, as in the U, as in a team in florida and the acc. are you going to tell me they wont have the talent to compete?

Comment by pk 08.14.12 @ 10:09 am

Frank – The program, especially the coaching situation, has been a mess since DW was let go. I can’t expect the recruits to line up just because we THINK we now have a good coach. But you can see Michigan State is behind us and WVU and Oregon just ahead of us. All 3 of these teams have had much greater success on the field than Pitt in recent years.

With this year’s schedule, I do think we can win 8 or 9 as long as Tino is servicable. I don’t think there’s a ton of seniors leaving so Pitt will have higher aspirations and expectations for 2013 and should look a lot better to recruits (and the media) going into the ACC next year. (they’d look even better if they go back to the old color scheme – sorry, had to toss that in).

Pitt needs to win. Pitt needs to have and maintain stability in the program. Only then will Pitt consistantly lure the 4 and 5 stars to Oakland.

Comment by pghFred 08.14.12 @ 10:11 am

Frankcan,

Based on your logic schools like WVU, Oregon,Stanford, Arkansas, Wisconisn, etc. need to hire some better recruiters as well.

We all want to be Top 25 every year in recruiting in addition to final season ranking. There really aren’t too many schools (maybe 5 or 6) out there that can do that. The sky isn’t falling.

I really don’t know why so many commenters on here dis the MAC so much. Maybe it’s because we have lost so many games to the MAC recently? Just about any 2 or 3 star player in the Ohio, western PA area will get MAC offers. That doesn’t mean we should turn up our noses at them if our coaches like what they see and think they will fit our program.

If you had told me after the Haywood and Graham disasters that Chryst would have a recruting class higher ranked than Standford, Rutgers or Cincinnati and just behind TCU and WVU at this point in the season, I would have leaped for joy.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.14.12 @ 10:25 am

Now, after a decent (not great) recruiting start, we need some wins in order to finish strong. I still point to the Cincinatti game as a key. A win there and we are poised for a potentially great season and a good recruiting finish.

A loss there and we are facing a 1-2 start which will have the negatives on here calling for Chryst’ head after 3 games.

We need to add another defensive tackle, 2 offensive linemen and another wide receiver to start to round out this class.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.14.12 @ 10:29 am

Frank – can I ask you a question. Do you think recruiting is dependent only on the Head Coach’s ability to land a player?

Or do you recognize that many factors go into recruiting? One of the two key aspects for any college team’s recruiting is having winning seasons with a shot at a conference championship and secondly stability of the coaching staff.

We hear that time and again from recruits all over the country. PITT has neither at this point. We haven’t been to a BCS bowl game in eight years and have had three HCs in two years.

I know you want us to be 25th and above each year, that would be great, but not too long ago I posted a yearly ranks listing of PITT over the last ten years and we were above 25th twice I believe.

This is one area of PITT football that literally has to play out over the course of a season or two. It has to Frank until players and their families feel comfortable that PITT now isn’t the PITT it’s been over the last three years. PITT fans underestimate this also but those violent incidents and the SI article in 2010, combined with the two firing and one departure made PITT the laughingstock of college football.

Chryst has some hard work to do to turn that around. Once he does that, even just with a good season this year, our recruiting will get much easier.

We just landed two players that you probably don’t like – I sure do though.

There are different ways to look at recruits, numerical ranking, star ranking, offers, comparison ranking, etc… but James Connor is no slouch. Rivals, which is the stingiest ranking site, has him at three stars and 12th best player in the state, ahead of Chavas Rawlins & Brian Lemelle, two kids fans are slobbering for on these boards and right behind TE Scott Orndoff who we are all excited about..

Luke Maclean is the 14th ranked player in the state of Michigan and the 27th rank ILB nationally. Both of these recruits are at positions of need for PITT.

A key indicator with these Chryst recruits is that almost all have attended camps at PITT at least once. The staff is making sure they see these kids in person and for a good bit of time. Plus, this staff requires two complete game films on every kid they offer – not just a highlights tape. So they see them for about 160 plays at least on film and over the course of one or two days at camp.

I really think there should be a post-recruitment ranking for these players once they enter their third year in college.

For instance Dion Lewis would have been a 2 star / 5 star; Shane Hale a 5 star / 2 star; Pat Bostick a 5 star / 2 star; etc… then rank them again at the end of each year until they leave college ball.

That way we’d get a real idea of how recruiting classes pan out. Right now all it is is a projection of how they might do.

Comment by Reed 08.14.12 @ 10:32 am

Using pghFred’s list, I also count 5 ACC teams on that list, alomg with a bunch of programs that have done very well for themselves the last few years in Wisconsin, Michigan State, WVU, Stanford, Oregon and TCU.

It’s kind of strange.

We tend to acknowledge all the issues this program has dealt with over the last two years – from Wanny’s underachieving final season and his messy departure to the Haywood disaster to the all-encompassing fiasco that was the Graham Era.

We also willfully acknowledges issues with the gameday atmosphere and low attendance figures, borne at least in part of the events of the last two years of on-field mediocrity (at best).

We acknowledge that we have a new coach who has no head coaching track record to fall back on.

But when it comes to recruiting, we sometimes tend to COMPLETELY overlook the impact that any of these factors above may have had on the existing perception of the program from the outside.

Does Chryst have some work to do? Absolutely. I think TX Panther and some others bring up some valid points about starting to hit the ACC footprint harder. I think the criticisms that Dokish has raised about Breckterfield are valid, though I think Dokish may harp on those more than they’re worth.

But again, try to view it as kids see this from the outside. Look at what a kid like Foster or Dorian Johnson has to choose from right now, and tell me the atmospheres at some of those programs aren’t more enticing than what we’ve seen here the last couple of years.

It’s easy to say Chryst needs to get players like that; well, yeah, of course he does. But he’s not exactly on equal footing with what Nick Saban is selling at Alabama or what Meyer is selling at Ohio State. Chryst is selling Foster on being the type of player who can help create that here; they’re selling something much more tangible that already exists.

To get kids like Foster or Johnson to come here over a program like Alabama or Ohio State, Chryst is asking them to take a tremendous leap of faith, especially if that kid wants to win a national championship. And let’s be honest here…it’s not tough to see that the ACC may be fighting an uphill battle there in terms of respect when it comes to the SEC and Big XII, to say nothing of the Pac-12 & Big Ten.

Not trying to sound defeatist at all here. Just trying to be realistic about what Chryst is selling, especially when he runs up against the established, iconic programs that already have that built in.

It obviously hasn’t swayed Chryst at all, as Pitt is still very much of the radar of each of those players. I’m just arguing that when it comes to selling against these more iconic programs, Chryst isn’t exactly dealing from a strong position thanks to what the last couple of years have been for this program.

Thankfully, recruits are all different. Each kid places a different value on things. Some kids would rather stay home or play alongside friends (which seems to be a big thing with Foster). Some kids are cognizant of the fact that they may get lost at a big-time program (see Johnson, Andrew). So Chryst has plenty to sell along that “opportunity” line to high-profile players.

And he CAN sell atmosphere because he has a clean slate. Those empty seats the last two years? Well, Chryst can’t do much about that. But he can sell kids on the fact that he comes from a program that won because it knew how to utilize players the right way, something that wasn’t entirely the case under the previous two coaches.
And if kids want proof of how this city can respond to a hard-luck team that starts winning, he only needs to point at PNC Park. That may resonate well with a lot of kids.

There’s a lot there. He just needs time. We gave it to Walt. We gave it to Wannstedt. Chryst deserves at least that much.

Comment by Stoosh 08.14.12 @ 10:37 am

Wow that was long. Sorry about that, guys.

Comment by Stoosh 08.14.12 @ 10:37 am

Stoosh – long is good.

That is what make this site so much different, and better, than other sports blogs, we get into real and detailed discussions on here and civilly I might add.

Comment by Reed 08.14.12 @ 10:45 am

Bowling Green Panther yes they all will get mac offers
but most ours this year have got only mac offers
except the offers they got from us.

and yes we have been mediocre and most of you seam to think that is all we can be.

we are mediocre stay that way i wont except that i want us to do better and we can do better
to say this is the best class we could get is not exceptable.

to say a coach needs better recruiters next year
is not disloyal it is just a fact.

do you really think these are the players he wanted he offered 7 LB before one said yes all the outhers commited to outher schools so we
take one with only mac offers

is that the way it should stay i say no hire a good recruiter what is wrong with that.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.14.12 @ 10:50 am

The 2013 class won’t be set until FEBRUARY. Having a good showing this season could very well ‘salvage’ this class and move us into the 20s in terms of rankings.

Pitt absolutely DOES need to aspire to achieve top 25 classes again, but realistically it won’t happen until they win and have stability.

DW had perennial top 25 recruiting classes…..and he was shown the door.

Comment by pghFred 08.14.12 @ 11:00 am

Did i say he was a bad coach no i did not,
do i know abought abought the yellow empty seats
yes. do i know abought the change of coachs yes.
does he need time yes.
does he need help with recruiting YES
what is wrong with pointing out that he has a weak spot which is recruiting.

did penn state with a new coach and scandel
had a top 15 class till the bowl ban and the NCAA
hit them.

and becuse we change coachs and end up in si
pitt should except being mediocre. hell no
we will be great once more

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.14.12 @ 11:11 am

Pitt’s selling points:
1. world class education
2. safe city campus
3. not on probation
4. a conference that is a great fit
5. opportunity to play soon
6. opportunity to say your class started Pitt’s rise to the top
7. national TV games
8. a small but passionate fan base and will grow larger with inevitable wins
9. great practice facilities
10. pro stadium shared with a fantastic franchise
11. coaches that will make you into a better player and a better person
12. high energy (dare I say octane) campus with always something to do
13. I could go on with another 12 points like Pitt’s history of getting players to the pros, tradition, most liveable city, Primanti’s, Iron City beer, etc.

So what is soo difficult to sell?? Despite all the coaching fiascos, wetting the bed on national TV and failing to win the conference title in the weakest BCS conference, Pitt is still a very good brand and I think a relatively easy product to sell.

Pitt doesn’t have to BS recruits. It doesn’t have to pay recruits. It doesn’t have to trot out 100k zombies.

If all else fails, just blame Wanny.

Comment by TX Panther 08.14.12 @ 11:18 am

Frank you say we need a recruiter but not sure how we can say he is not a good recruiter! That jury will we out for a few years. If you are basing it it rankings then it is was too early as it is only August. Besides from what i have heard Pitt keeps moving up in the rankings.

He was hired not to run a mediocre program and that takes time. And if he gets a top 25 class but doesn’t win then he is failing. But if he wins then the recruiting rankings don’t mean a thing.

Speaking of recruits I can guarantee you that there are some unknown players who have breakout Sr. years and will get offers but may never get more than 3 stars. And hope we find those players as well.

The only ranking that matters is the one at the end of the season!!!!

Comment by giveitarest 08.14.12 @ 11:18 am

rivals mike said on twitter that conner could be a steal for pitt. he said he has “a high motor”.

and, you guys DO realize that pitt isnt far from a top 25 class this year right? rivals has them at 35. even if the rest of the class is 2/3 stars,add foster and johnson and its a top 25 class. i still dont think that means squat but there you go

Comment by pk 08.14.12 @ 11:24 am

If Chryst can land Johnson and Foster, I’ll give credit where credit is due. Boyd would be icing on the cake. Right now it’s just a bunch of ifs. I hope Chryst can pleasantly surprise me.

Comment by TX Panther 08.14.12 @ 11:30 am

[…] in practices now being needed to go up against the first team defense. The only positive is that the D-line looks strong, so they are getting good tests right […]


Frankcan,

You are starting to sound like a politician (ouch, my apoligies). Don’t put words in our mouths that we didn’t write.

No one said that this is the best we can do. No one said Pitt is now and CAN ONLY BE mediocre. But the facts are we have a decently ranked recruiting class at the moment with about 6 months or so to go and some very big targets still out there.

I don’t think your disloyal and nobody who has read you on here over the past years can doubt that you bleed blue and gold. But you are very reactionary and can be very negative at times.And that does get under others skin. And it’s not just you.

This recuriting class has moved from the mid 60’s to the low 40’s and mid 30’s in about a month. And then you rip the coaching staff for getting 2 very talented players at positions of need just because you didn’t like who else has offered them?

I know I still despise DW for offering Dion Lewis when nobody else did! Jerk! (That was sarcasm.)

We will know a lot more about these recruits in February of 2013. And then we will know even more in Feb. 2014 and we will have a pretty good picture by Feb. 2015. If we know for certain before then, that means they are either really bad (like mid-1990’s bad) or really good (like BCS bowl good).

Once again I am happy with a top 40 recruiting class in August; but I still hope it is Top 30 or 20 by February.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.14.12 @ 11:45 am

Can you guys wait until Chryst has a chance to win a couple of games?

Once that happens and recruits and their parents get a chance to look at the product Chryst puts on the field… EVERYTHING CHANGES!!

Your enthusiasm and interest in Pitt football is totally understood… but come on.

And, by the way, Penn State is not a fair comparison to put against Pitt by any means.

The whole program is still clinging to the Paterno mystique.

That mystique has already begun to fade and will become ancient history probably by the time the four years NCAA suspension is up.

That is of course unless Bill O’Brien shows himself to be JoePA redux.

He will not.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.14.12 @ 11:49 am

Reed every night i go over the prospect list on
panther lair and panther digest.
i thought we had a real shot at DE conner and LB
maclean and connor was the MVP at pitt camp i
knew 3 weeks ago that we might get both of them.

but here is the sad part the reason i thought we might get them is all most all there outher offers were from MAC schools.

think abought that for a minute the reason i knew was becuse there offers were from the mac so the only good offer was ours.

but i was right here they are maybe they will be great players i dont know but isent that a kick in the head when that is how you know who will commit to pitt.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.14.12 @ 12:07 pm

some current/future stars on pitts team that had similar offer lists as these players: k’waun williams, pitt was his only offer and will be the big easts best corner this year. aaron donald whos best other offer was toledo, could be the big easts best defensive player in general, devin street whos best other offer was temple, ronald jones best other offer was marshall, kk mosely-smith whos best other offer was toledo will be a very solid nose for us for years, isaac bennett whos best other offer was tulsa, josh brinso whos only offer was pitt is on the watch list for this year, corey davis whos best offer was wyoming, steve williams a rs freshman safety who was a great playmaker this spring and whos got a bright future, best other offer was georgia southern

Comment by pk 08.14.12 @ 12:34 pm

pk every one knows you can can have a 2 star or a
NR who turns into a really great player.
but you cant build a top program on 2 staes or NR
as a study diet. some times you find a real gem
but that is luck .

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.14.12 @ 1:06 pm

Frankcan is right. But, I do think Chryst will have more success finding those diamonds in the rough and more success in coaching up the 3 stars he gets. Just my opinion. Time will tell.

Comment by TX Panther 08.14.12 @ 1:10 pm

Its spring practice and Reed devotes 99.9% of the blog entry to a discussion of the team, how its being coached, whose play is improving and whose going in the opposite direction. Where Pitt’s strengths and weaknesses are showing and what happens . . . . . the blog gets hijacked talking about 18 year olds who nobody on this blog has ever seen or really knows anything about.
I absolutely love this blog site and don’t miss a day, but honestly there are times when my head hurts at how confused some Pitt fans are about what really matters. . . . its about WINNING!!!

Comment by Taxing Matters 08.14.12 @ 1:25 pm

Taxing – if Pitt does poorly recruiting now, it has no future. Part of the better future that Pitt is selling won’t happen if Chryst swings and misses on the recruits. Kind of like Catch 22. If the future is about winning, you need to start winning the battle for recruits now. He ain’t doing too bad. But, he isn’t knocking the ball out of the park either. I’ll give you back the plane as I parachute out.

Comment by TX Panther 08.14.12 @ 1:42 pm

FRANKCAN & TXPanther–I think you are missing a major consideration There is a huge difference between getting a commit with only MAC offers in August (particularly when such a kid has an offer based on how he impressed in summer camp) as opposed to getting one in December or January when the pressure may be on to complete the recruit class.

IMO, the August commit has an offer because the coaches liked what they saw with their own eyes. That means they consider that kid better than a typical MAC recruit and they wanted to lock him up before he possibly attracted other major interest later in the fall.

This is entirely different than when they get commits from kids with only MAC offers after most major programs have had a chance to see them play their senior seasons and have decided they truly are only MAC material.

There are plenty of kids with excellent ability to play at the next level who weren’t first stringers in high school through junior year for a variety of reasons (lack of early physical maturity/growth, playing for an extremely strong program where you have to wait your turn, simply being behind your HS’s star senior at your position, or were injured, etc.). Many of these kids first chance to attract attention is at pre-senior season summer camps. As a result, they have been ignored by many big-time programs because those programs focus their efforts on the pool of players who were starters and stars as HS juniors.

For me the bottom line is that I just don’t find it plausible that this coaching staff is so desperate this far from LOI day (February 2013) that they are offering true MAC-level only talent; or players they view as long-shots to pan out. Rather, since it is only August, I have to believe they are offering guys they are convinced are as good as many guys with better offer sheets and more stars who just happened to be fortunate enough to be first stringers their Junior year in HS.

Comment by pitt1972 08.14.12 @ 2:05 pm

Star ratings do matter it has been proven over and over again. But that is not to say that there are not individuals who over or under achieve. But having more 4 stars gives you a better chance to succeed. I was more worried when the class was ranked around 61. Even if Chryst could really coach em up by their senior year would would be looking at a team ranked in the 40s. Now Rivals has them rated 35. If you coach them up you could be looking at a top 25 team in a few years. Add Johnson and Foster and you could have a very highly ranked team in a year or two.
There are different ways to sell. Some guys are “one call closers”. Some are more methodical, making the recruit comfortable first, answering any questions and helping them to make the decision. Maybe that is what we have in Chryst.

Comment by Houston Panther 08.14.12 @ 3:38 pm

I am in sales. A one call close is the true objective of any sales person – just go to any sales seminar. One call closers win much more of the time and will be much more successful in their careers.

Comment by rayhpgh 08.14.12 @ 4:02 pm

Starters and key contributors:

Tags – Toledo & Towson

Gruder – Rice & Western Michigan

Cory King – Bowling Green & Minnesota

Dion Lewis – Miami (OH) & Tulane

Isaac Bennett – Tulsa & ILM (?)

Ronald Jones – GA Southern, Marshall & Citadel

Jevonte- Pitts – PITT and 0 others

Josh Brinson – PITT and 0 others

Those last few players will get playing time as FR and SOs this season.

Comment by Reed 08.14.12 @ 5:23 pm

TX Panther – I should, but just can’t give up. You and Frank keep missing the point. The point is, no one on this blog has any idea of:
1 – what the 2013 class will be and what it will be ranked until Feb 2013.
2 – even then we won’t have any idea how the “stars” will align until they are coached up and play the game.

What we ARE beginning to know is:
– Ezell/Donald are beasts
– Price and Hale continue to disappoint
– Holtz and Pitts look to be the real deal
– We are stuck watching Tino the Terrible for 12 long painful games while he is Tino Terrific in practice
– And the OL has a chance to be good but can’t afford ANY more injuries

Can we now start talking about the Pitt Panther team playing in less than a month?

Comment by Taxing Matters 08.14.12 @ 6:57 pm

Yes, but let’s keep the Tino talk to a minimum. I am hoping that Pitt can win the Big East despite him.

Comment by TX Panther 08.14.12 @ 7:41 pm

@Houston Panther–Taxing matters has a good point–even star ratings, to the extent they matter statistically, are provisional until after the senior HS seasons are done. They do change (in both directions) based on the fall HS season. Believing a player isn’t or can’t be very good because he doesn’t have a 3+ star rating in August (a significant number of players haven’t even been scouted yet) is not a reasonable conclusion to reach because the data to support such a conclusion is incomplete and insufficient. Your point has far more validity in December-January-February than it does now.

Comment by pitt1972 08.14.12 @ 7:48 pm

All this debate over a “soft verbal” with rumors of questionable academics is pretty amusing, don’t you think?

In addition, Mr. Connors apparently has stated he will be making other visits and, still further, it is rumored that if he gets a Michigan State offer (where his HS buddy is going)he will switch his commitment.

Comment by pitt1972 08.14.12 @ 7:54 pm

OK how many times on here when we took myers part
did you all say to drw and me myers only had offers from pitt and bowling green.
you have all used that to make your point.

all so how many times when we recriuted some one good have i hard you all say he had offers from ohio state and penn state and iowa and we beat them out and he came to pitt how wonderful.

so in outher words when you all want to use a players offer it is ok but when tex panther or i do the same thing we are nuts.

so only you all can do that use the offer a player gets but we cant.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.14.12 @ 8:16 pm

Gentlemen, gentlemen with all the negative pub PITT has gotten since forcing DW to resign, I would say if we end up with a Top 35 class or so, that would be pretty good(didn’t know Rivals had us that high). As we knew going in that PC wasn’t a Johnny Majors or Jackie Sherrill or even a DW on the recruiting trail.

However what we have learned in this process is this: that PITT did out recruit Wisconsin over the last decade, yet Wisconsin got much better results on the field. And those results were in a better conference to boot.
Therefore that leads us to this conclusion; Wisconsin’s coaches were better at “coaching them up” into a better team than Pitt’s coaches were.
That certainly has to do with the stability and the continuity that has existed since Barry Alvarez took over as coach and then became AD.

And we now have several of Wisconsin’s better coaches at Pitt, with the most notable being Chryst, Huxtable and Rudolph. And they were able to bring in a guy with loads of O-line coaching experience, Huebner after losing Bostad.

So me personally I’m almost willing to give Chryst a pass this year on the recruiting end, however if we stay in the Top 35 and are fortunate enough to land Foster and maybe a few more, that would be pretty good in my mind. (again keeping in mind the near Titanic like disasters that have befallen Pitt since DW was forced out)

I am slightly concerned that nobody is on the staff yet with any Southern connections. As Randy Edsall was quoted as saying, the ACC is a much more speed oriented league than the Big East and we saw some of that when our best Pitt team in the last 30 years (the 10-3 2009 team) had a difficult time in the Muffler Bowl against a slightly above average middle tier ACC, North Carolina team. That same year we also got beat by a lower tier ACC team that year, NC State.

So we need to recruit some speed from the South, I don’t care if it comes from Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas or Virginia. But we need to have someone down here(i’m in NC) to start developing some HS contacts. Cause if our best team in 30 years had trouble(a loss & a last second win) with average ACC teams, teams with much more speed like FSU, VT, Clemson, GT, Miami and others in given years, are going to reek havoc on us.

Veritas et Virtus

Comment by Emel 08.14.12 @ 10:18 pm

Frank – there is a big difference in your Mark Myers reference because you and DRW kept insisting that Myers’ lack of offers was due to his committing to PITT early and that had he not committed many more BCS schools would have offered him.

Well, I tended to disagree with that. Believe me, if a player is a legit four star, #11 QB in the country schools will continue to offer him right up to the end of his SR HS year. However, if the player is a good but not great (3*) HS player then a lot of BCS colleges will quit recruiting him after he commits and turn their time, energy and money elsewhere because there are a lot of fish like that in the sea.

The point made above about the periodic updates of the star ranks is a good one. A lot of schools don’t throw out all their offers right off the bat. A lot wait until all the summer development camps are over and the player’s SR year is finished to see how well he developed physically and talent-wise before offering.

That’s why in a lot of cases you’ll see two star kids re-ranked as three stars and start getting more offers as soon as their SR HS season ends.

The majority of the players Chryst has recruited this season fit into that category, as the majority of college football players do. Again, Chryst and staff require two complete game films from the HS coach and physically watch the kid play/camp/work out before they offer him. That is a hell of a lot more than these recruit scouting services do for two and three star players. Many time they won’t see them live or even on game films at all.

The way I look at it is if the HC and his staff go to into that much detail regarding a three star target (everyone and their brothers throw offers out to four and five star players without ever seeing them) then I’ll defer to their judgement on this matter. It’s such a crap shoot anyway when you are dealing with 17-18 year old kids.

It really is true that when the coaching staff has the targeted recruits lined up on the “Big Board” (just like NFL teams do for the draft) they don’t give a rat’s ass about stars. They have done their homework and know just what type of player they need at what positions they are recruiting for. The staff may be salivating over a particular three star kid due to positives we have no idea about and us fans are screaming for the other four star kid to be recruited who the staff wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Look, I firmly believe that the difference between three star play and four star play AFTER the kid sets foot on a college campus is how well he adjusts to college life and how well he is coached to play at this level.

Some coaches get the max out of their players, get them to play solidly as a team and win football games. Other coaches recruit higher rated talent, can’t seem to get the best out of their kids and squander the opportunity of having a roster of highly rated players coming together to win consistently.

Wannstedt was one of the latter, Chryst appeared to be one of the former with his offensive players at Wisconsin.

A roster full of three star players with some fours and a few five star kids is just fine with me. If you look at the majority of starting lineups in college football, except for maybe the Top Five programs, the bulk of the players were rated three star coming out of high school.

Comment by Reed 08.15.12 @ 4:57 am

Reed–You stated–“Some coaches get the max out of their players, get them to play solidly as a team and win football games. Other coaches recruit higher rated talent, can’t seem to get the best out of their kids and squander the opportunity of having a roster of highly rated players coming together to win consistently.

Wannstedt was one of the latter, Chryst appeared to be one of the former with his offensive players at Wisconsin.”

I am not certain I 100% agree with this conclusion but, I think your general premise is valid. Aside from game-day coaching decisions criticism, I think Wannstadt’s biggest problem was that his recruiting classes, although usually having good overall “star-power,” never included QBs to match the level of recruiting achieved for other positions and despite some OL individual stars there never was adequate quality depth recruited for the OL. Bottom line, Wannstadt’s recruiting wasn’t so great in terms of fulfilling team positional needs despite its overall “star power.”

More generically speaking this also points out a weakness in the recruiting ratings made by Rivals, Scout and ESPN, etc. You can have a class, or several years of classes, full of big HS stars that is (are) rated very highly but if the class or classes don’t produce quality depth at all positions for a team there will be on the field weaknesses as a result of the recruiting gaps. Consequently, some fans will conclude that coaching must be bad because of how poorly a team is performing relative to having highly ranked recruiting classes.

Applying this to Pitt, my impression has been that Despite how his classes were rated, Wannstadt never had the QBs or sufficient quality OL depth, and also had too many smurf size DBs. Harris seemed to usually have had very good QBs and skill position guys on offense; but, also appeared to usually be pretty deficient in quality and depth throughout much of the defensive side of the ball–most especially on the DL–>hence the bend but don’t break style of defense usually played.

Hopefully, Chryst will be recruiting teams that are more solid top to bottom; while still having enough big play offensive stars to compete effectively with anybody (i.e., the Wisconsin model). So far, his recruiting strategy seems to be oriented that way as he seems to be emphasizing going after positions of need rather than simply going after the most “star power” irrespective of those positional needs.

Comment by pitt1972 08.15.12 @ 10:04 am

Reed i never said that abought myers my be drw did
my point that you missed is evey time we backed
him was that many on here would say he could not be good becuse he only had offers from pitt and bowling green.

my point was they used the lack of offers to make there point and you and outhers did not say they were wrong.

but when tex panther EMel and i use the lack of offecrs or were the offers come from we are nuts who dont know what we are talking abought.

you made a list of all the 2 stars who made it big and NR how abought the list of all the 2 stars and NR who were no good.

but my main point is that if you use the list of offers to show how good we are doeing it is ok.

but if you use the list of offers to show how bad we might be doeing or were the offers came from then we dont know what we are talking abought.

but even you must think we need a recruter in the ACC footprint which we dont have.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 11:27 am

FrankCan–I don’t think there is really any inconsistency in Reed’s reasoning. The list of offers thing works less well as a measure of recruit quality prior to the fall; but, better from late fall on. This time of year, it works better as a positive indicator than as a negative indicator (as I explain below).

Like any other measure of anything, the measure involving who has offered works best when it is supported by the most data and worst when supported by the least data.

So, this time of year, a great offer sheet means a lot in the positive direction because those with them already were stars before their senior HS year and are well scouted. On the other hand, not having a great offer sheet this time of year has a couple of different possible meanings. It will likely mean, for those players who have been well scouted (and many who didn’t start as HS juniors haven’t been), that they aren’t very good prospects. On the other hand, for those who haven’t been scouted, that conclusion is a whole lot shakier. A lack of offers this time of year quite often doesn’t mean the player lacks talent and potential. Often, its just that the player hasn’t been scouted. For reasons I have mentioned previously in another post above there are lots of legit reasons why a good number of players with talent and potential haven’t been scouted by this time of year prior to their senior HS season.

This changes by late fall when the HS seasons are finishing up and these players have been seen and scouted. Then, the offer sheets become more meaningful as a negative indicator–with one caveat. A guy who commits early and solidly honors that commitment from the beginning may not never get additional offers he may otherwise have gotten unless he has “blown-up” to a 4 or 5 star who other schools recruiters will keep after even when firmly told there is no interest by the player. That usually won’t be the case for guys who show solid but unspectacular 3-star ability during their senior seasons.

Bottom line–There just aren’t any easy answers to this game of deciding for certain how good (or not) a recruit is. The best a fan can do is look at how a player is rated by several different rating services as LOI day approaches and their evaluations have had their final post-senior season adjustments made. Then, based on that info (stars plus offer sheet) conclude the player probably is at a talent level that is around the average of all the ratings looked at.

At this time of year, it is a lot harder to get a good answer; but, the closest to best answer is probably from the site or sites that have actually based their early rating on an actual scouting report rather than from those giving a low rating as a default since they haven’t had a scouting report on the player.

Of course, the actual right answer ultimately can’t be known until a player has been on a college team for a good while.

Comment by pitt1972 08.15.12 @ 1:39 pm

TX Panther – With regard to the QB “who shall not be named”, from your lips to God’s ears.

Comment by Taxing Matters 08.15.12 @ 3:05 pm

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