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August 15, 2012

A couple verbals that everyone is well aware at this point. Over the lost weekend, Pitt got a verbal from Luke MacLean out of Michigan. He’s a 3-star on all of the recruiting sites. Some sites list him as a weak-side D, and others as an inside linebacker. The answer is: yes.

“It feels great,” MacLean said. “I’m excited about the decision. It feels like the right place and I’m fired up about it.”

MacLean (6-3, 235 lbs) is listed as a three-star on both Rivals and Scout. He also had offers from Cincinnati and Indiana, as well as several MAC schools. MacLean’s high school coach Joe Delaney said he was close to an offer from Michigan State, but that Pitt was always the team to beat.

“All along, he was really fired up about the chance at Pitt that he might have with the new coaches there, so I think that’s eventually what turned the corner for him,” Delaney said.

MacLean said the Pitt coaching staff told him he would be a defensive end/linebacker hybrid. In fact, he said that on his visit, defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield told him, “I’ll be fighting over you with the linebackers coach when you get here.”

[Emphasis added.]

No surprise that MacLean has promise, but is expected to take some time to develop (Insider subs.).

Demonstrates strong wrap tackling ability which allows very little yardage after contact; should be effective as a special teams player in a variety of positions. We like his balance when moving through traffic in space however there is the need to improve overall flexibility and agility; must improve his initial quickness along with key and diagnosis reaction skills when defending the run; flashes the playing strength needed to take on blockers at the point of attack but must get his hands into play with explosive leverage. … This guy is a tough customer with good instincts and a nose for the football. MacLean will need some time and perhaps a red shirt year before competing for playing time at the BCS level of play.

A read shirt is almost a given for MacLean, especially if he is going to be playing a hybrid-type spot. The only reason for no redshirt is if his special teams play is outstanding from the get-go.

Another defensive line commit came, in no small part because of the verbal from MacLean.

James Conner out of Erie gave a verbal. Conner, had offers from mainly MAC schools, but was getting interest from Illinois and West Virginia. While Rivals.com gave him 3-stars, Scout.com said only 2. 247 Sports and ESPN.com both have him unstarred/not scouted.

Rivals.com seems to like his “sleeper” potential, as Mike Farrell tweeted:

He made a big impact on the Pitt coaches when he camped there in June, and they got him down for a visit in July (Insider subs).

“I could tell they wanted me to commit on the spot,” Conner said. “I really like their D-line coach [Inoke Breckterfield]. He has experience, played college football, played in the Canadian Football League. I’m real comfortable with him, real cool guy.”

Breckterfield and the rest of the Panthers staff are in their first year at Pitt. The staff is telling Conner he would be an improvement to what the Panthers already posses.

“He said when you recruit players you want to recruit better than what you have,” Conner said. “He said I can play early. I know all the schools tell me what I want to hear, but I can tell they want me to come here.”

Toledo follows Pittsburgh on his leaderboard, but Conner has his eyes set on a few more BCS teams coming in. Illinois and West Virginia are interested, Conner said, and he said more teams will join the fray once he can get his grades up.

“I took my two summer school courses and got two A’s,” Conner said. “This February I’ll be NCAA eligible no doubt about it. … The grades are first.”

Conner seemed to want to wait for more offers as his grades improved, but he also had to be realistic. If he didn’t take the Pitt offer, and no others were forthcoming,  could miss the opportunity. MacLean’s verbal was the final straw.

McDowell football standout James Conner originally had planned to wait until after his senior season before deciding his collegiate future.

Conner moved up those plans Monday when he announced that he was verbally committing to Pitt.

“I think it’s a great fit for him,” McDowell coach Mark Soboleski said of Conner. “Pitt has a new staff, and we had a great relationship with (assistant coach) Joe Rudolph, the same person who recruited (former McDowell star) A.J. Fenton for Wisconsin.

“I think they’re very excited. (Conner) blew them away at Junior Day, and they offered him a scholarship on the spot.”

Conner said he moved up his plans to commit “because they had another defensive end commit and I didn’t want to risk them pulling the scholarship.”

Something that could still happen on either side of this verbal.

And yes, I’m aware that Dorian Johnson has it down to Pitt and Ohio State. Please don’t bother him on Twitter.





Build The D Hail to Pitt

Comment by 63Team 08.15.12 @ 11:16 am

Note to coach Breckterfield: It is probably not a good idea to tear down the players that you have in order to build up the players that you don’t.

Comment by HbgFrank 08.15.12 @ 12:57 pm

Vegas line for Pitt wins. O/U 7

Comment by Dan 08.15.12 @ 1:10 pm

Vegas is normally right. I’ll take the over. 8 wins.

Comment by TX Panther 08.15.12 @ 1:28 pm

The over/under of 7 sounds about right to me for preseason, Dan, although I’m hoping for more. I’d especially enjoy an upset sneak attack win over Va. Tech. I live outside of DC in Northern Virginia, lots of VT fans around these parts. Most of the younger crowd who have a very limited historical perspective are giving NO RESPECT to Pitt in their early season matchup. Everybody has Va Tech already penciled in as a win against an out of conference nobody like Pitt. I would love to be able to flaunt another win against them, which would be the fourth in a row BTW, this season.

Also, what a great way to start off an in conference rivalery during our initial year in the ACC come 2013.

Hail to Pitt

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.15.12 @ 1:39 pm

Dr. Tom–I share your sentiments completely. I also live No. Va outside of DC. Several of my wife’s nieces and nephews are in the area who are young 20-something VATech alums. So, I hear the same thing. Got one of my kids to go to Pitt so I have at least one ally to support me.

I think injuries will be the key. If this team stays pretty healthy, I think it could win 9-10; but I will stick with 8-4 for now.

Comment by pitt1972 08.15.12 @ 1:52 pm

Those that complaing about PC’s recruiting ability, the main can coach!

link to pittsburghpanthers.com

Comment by markp 08.15.12 @ 2:01 pm

Anybody know how the the world to get a parking pass for the home opener to tail gate ?

Comment by Snala The Panther 08.15.12 @ 3:15 pm

markp-That video reminds me of some of the good physical skills training that I have had. He is teaching good skills and reenforcing them. He can coach.

Comment by Houston Panther 08.15.12 @ 3:39 pm

He coaches better than I spell, sorry for the fat fingers. Good coaching will lead to better recruits.

Comment by markp 08.15.12 @ 3:48 pm

Speaking of the D-Line. Didn’t Aaron Donald play DE last year and exile? And Tyronne Ezell had played DT up until now. So they moved Donald to DT and Ezell to DE, am I correct? Just wondering why Donald would be moved since he performed so well as a DE. And Ezell at 300 lbs seems like the perfect DT more than say a LaQuentin Smith at 265 lbs and formerly a LB. Who at 265 and a former LB would seem to be slotted for a DE position if he was making the switch to DL.

All kinda confusing to me here watching from afar.

Comment by Emel 08.15.12 @ 4:20 pm

typo**

Didn’t Aaron Donald play DE last year and excel?

P.S. So according to Inoke, Connor is better now than Ezell, Murphy, Clemmings, or anybody else we have at DE. That’s pretty impressive considering these 3 guys have been in the program for a 2-3 years or it was just smoke. (my guess the latter)

Comment by Emel 08.15.12 @ 4:24 pm

Watched the video thx for posting markp !

My City
My Panthers !
Oy vey

Let’s go !

Comment by Emel 08.15.12 @ 4:48 pm

Oy vey indeed, Emel. Gotta ditch that ditty.

Reed’s holding a contest here for a better one

Me: something active, simply “Let’s go Pitt!”

Prize: Reed’s parking pass

(kidding of course!)

Comment by steve1 08.15.12 @ 5:19 pm

Emel – I think you are joking but to me all that means is he wants the kid as a DL for depth… which we all agree is needed.

“I’ll be fighting over you with the linebackers coach when you get here.” doesn’t really reflect on any other players.

Comment by Reed 08.15.12 @ 5:36 pm

Hmmmm…Some off topic trivia…The dominant SEC is 19-19 in BCS games against other BCS teams. Also in regular season matchups they have losing records against two BCS conferences: PAC 12 and BE! This according to Sirius college sports.

Comment by HbgFrank 08.15.12 @ 7:58 pm

Reed EMel is talking abought what he said to conner the DE not what he said to the LB maclean
i readthe same thing as ELel but i am to lazy to look it up.
it went someting like this i try to recruit kids that are better then what i have and you are better than what i have.
so if i am a de on team now i am pissed.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 8:15 pm

Does anyone else think we might want to take Brekterfield’s comments – repeated secondhand through a 17 year old kid witha grain of salt? Does anyone think that now, during camp, with everyone fighting for a spot on the two-deep that any D-linemen are reading recruiting reports? If they are we have a way bigger problem on our hands…

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.15.12 @ 9:02 pm

Aaron Donald played defensive tackle as a freshman in the 4-3. As a sophomore, he played all three defensive line positions in the 3-4.

Unfortunately, we only have one Aaron Donald.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 08.15.12 @ 9:18 pm

Atlanta Panther may be the DL coach is a dumb ass
or may be you are right abought what went on but EMel was just pointing oit something intersting
and i was just pointing out to reed that it was what was said to the de conner not the lb maclean
becuse reed was confused.
i am sure you dont mind do you.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 9:26 pm

This could be are next commit OG xzavier mcallister.
6 foot 5 310 pounds found him on scout but not rivel his offers are kent state akron western michigon and pitt i dont know why he has not commited already we are his only good offer.
he has had the same offers for 3 weeks.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 9:34 pm

I’m sure a lot of recruiting assistants tell recruits they’re as good if not better than the current players. What else will you tell them? “you’re not good enough to play here”

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.15.12 @ 9:48 pm

@HbgFrank. Absolutely. They are one of the most over rated products on the market.

In this sense. Yes, Alabama, LSU, Florida (not so much recently, Auburn (well they stunk last year), but those 4 teams, yes they’ve been the best the last 5 years or so. Alabama and LSU have dominated the last two.

I give you that.

However, the elephant in the room regarding the SEC, and no one on CBS or ESPN ever talks about, is the other half of the conference.

Miss ST., Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vandy (good year once in awhile, but mostly stink) Tennessee (the 90′s are over 12 years ago), they have really stunk lately.

Georgia and S.Carolina, good, just as easily mediocre.

So, yes, the SEC is the best conference, i’m not denying that, but to hear some of the announcers and pundits, you’d think the conference was made up of 6 Alabamas and 6 LSU’s.

Comment by Dan 08.15.12 @ 9:58 pm

I doubt the kid got it wrong and I’m sure the HC has advised the DL coach to change his sales pitch.

Comment by HbgFrank 08.15.12 @ 10:02 pm

@HbgFrank Forgot Arkansas, good teams at times, fit easily into the “can be mediocre category”, and you have two teams coming in that will jump right into the mediocre most of time. Mizzou and TAM.

So, your thoughts and points, they do not suprise me.

Like I said, if you don’t really watch a lot of college football, the announcers would have you believing the conference is made up of Steelers, Ravens, Patriots and Packers top to bottom.

Comment by Dan 08.15.12 @ 10:03 pm

Dan good to hear from you hope you are well.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 10:08 pm

Quick off topic question-can you tailgate at station square lot?? If not how can you get a parking pass to tailgate??? I’ve parked at casino mostly but want to tailgate. I’m the rare ysu alum/Pitt fan so looking to enjoy the day.

Comment by John 08.15.12 @ 10:14 pm

Bowling Green Panther but it was ok for EMel
to post what conner said dont you think.
after all we are not communists and we have different thoughts on what is important.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 10:15 pm

Hey FRANKCAN, how are ya?? Hope all is well.

Was on vacation for a week, I don’t do laptops, then when I came back, have been dealing with a relatives illness the past week.

Can’t believe it’s almost time!!

Comment by Dan 08.15.12 @ 10:26 pm

Dan good to have you back.
PITT will be 10 and 2 this year dan it is fate
keep the faith brother.
We will be in the orange bowl this year big east
champs .

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 10:32 pm

Wouldn’t that be a way to go out, win the conference and go to the BCS bowl.

Might as well win the BE hoops tourney too.

They’d be heading for the nearest bridge in Providence if that happened!!

Good night Frank, I’m whipped!!

Comment by Dan 08.15.12 @ 10:37 pm

Dan for sure the SEC has a great “brand” and can boast having NC teams. You zeroed in on the propaganda piece of the SEC with the CBS/ESPN reference. ESPN has 2.25 billion reasons to convince the world how dominating the SEC is. How else will they get us to watch that big Miss St vs UK game?

Comment by HbgFrank 08.15.12 @ 10:38 pm

Bowling Green Panther you are a good man if i sounded like a smart ass i did not mean to.
not to you. to outhers some times but not to you.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.15.12 @ 10:41 pm

Wake me up when we get someone who isn’t a sleeper

Comment by Tony C 08.15.12 @ 11:20 pm

@ John, First off, you will be able to cheer for somebody on just about every play considering your alumni and fan status.

Secondly, my suggestion on tailgating would be to simply come prepared, no matter where you park. Just show up at the open ground level parking lots at Heinz Field with a bottle of scotch or bourbon and maybe another bottle of tequila in hand, a couple limes in your pocket and a stack of plastic shot glasses available for immediate dispension. Quietly locate the tailgating crew that seems to have the best food sizzling on the grill and the most alcohol already on their breaths then simply appear out of nowhere with a big grin on your face offering everybody in site a shot and a toast of “Hail to Pitt”. After a couple of those you’ll be basking in the glow of new found Pitt fan friends and probably will have already replaced your bottle in hand with a hot dog or half rack of ribs. Works for me everytime and I never seem to have to concern myself with what to do with that half full bottle of tequila at game time either (thats if you pick the right tailgating crew in the first place, they’ll take care of that for you).

HAIL TO PITT,, hic

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.15.12 @ 11:51 pm

Would the all-MAC team be competitive in the ACC? Just wondering…

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.16.12 @ 12:06 am

@John:
I suggest you stop at the Belleria on Market in Boardman for a Buffalo chicken salad first and blow off Station Square where you cannot legally tailgate. I then suggest you try to get one of the gold lot parking tickets…Pitt went digital with game tickets but I’m not sure about parking.
Buy a Sid Crosby jersey, a Pitt hat and a YSU wrist band and enjoy the game.

Comment by SFPitt 08.16.12 @ 2:14 am

For those who haven’t seen it… here’s the link to WTAE’s interview of Kirk Herbstreit.

Herbstreit explains in a nutshell why he sees big things for Pitt under the guidance of Paul Chryst.

link to wtae.com

Comment by PittofDreams 08.16.12 @ 7:53 am

Sounds good guys-thanks! Hope the penguins put up a fight but not enough to make me doubt a winning season for the panthers. Since the casino went up that’s where I have always parked so I’ll try and steal a spot in one of the non prepaid lots.

Comment by John 08.16.12 @ 7:55 am

On a side note… Interesting fact that makes him look all that much better.

WR Commit Zach Challingsworth is just 16 going into his senior year.

Played varsity as a freshman at 13.

Featured today in the Post Gazette.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.16.12 @ 8:06 am

Nothing wins you new friends like a shot of whiskey or a brat. Wearing the proper colors of your school helps as well.

Comment by TX Panther 08.16.12 @ 8:15 am

@Frankcan -

No offense intended and none taken. No worries.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.16.12 @ 9:50 am

Steve1 – just got my season tickets and I’m in Blue Ten parking. That ain’t too good of a prize.

Emel & Frankcan – I get the quote you are talking about, sorry – thought it was the other one.

However, while its probably not the politically correct thing to say to a 17 year old it sure as hell is the correct way to recruit.

Speaking of the correct way to recruit did anyone else see this excerpt from an article written by a long-time Philly sportswriter about Joe Paterno? If you remember Dorsett originally wanted to go to Penn State but they didn’t offer so he chose PITT.

“During the mid-1970s, Tony Dorsett was an All-American running back for the University of Pittsburgh. (He later became an All-Pro for the Dallas Cowboys.) With Pitt hosting Notre Dame during one of those seasons, I made the journey across state and watched Dorsett run wild against the Irish.

During a postgame interview, Dorsett was asked if Penn State recruited him. Not up front, he said, but added that after he’d signed with Pitt, there was contact. He was asked to meet with a group from State College at a clandestine site north of Pittsburgh. Paterno, Dorsett said, was with the group, urging him to dump Pitt and assist the Nittany Lions in continuing to be a dominant power. Dorsett chose to honor his agreement.

The following day, I attempted to reach Paterno for comment. The call was not returned. But, after an article quoting Dorsett appeared, the phone rang.

It was Paterno, and he was livid.

“Stories like that undermine our goal of building a new image for Eastern football,” I was told.

My reply was to say, “That seems an odd way of doing it. Isn’t Pitt in the East?”

He hung up.”

Full article here:

link to csindy.com

I think the over/under is about right. Eight wins with no more drama surrounding the program would be a good start for Paul Chryst and our move to the ACC. I won’t be shocked if we win more game though.

Update on the QB2 battle: Anderson was out for the second day with his wrist injury and Voytik is getting all the QB2 snaps in his place. He’s having up and down success in the practices and freshman do but he could benefit from the “you don’t practice in camp you get passed over” syndrome Anderson is facing every day he stays out.

I’ve arranged things so that I can get up to the last scrimmage (only two this year) on Saturday so I’ll file another report. I’ll say now that it won’t be posted util Sunday at the earliest because we have house guests this weekend (getting it at 7:00pm Saturday so I’m not being that rude of a host).

This scrimmage is huge for the kids because its the last chance to “try out” for the two deep. Beginning next week the staff will start working with the players they choose for 1st & 2nd strings and will get them ready to jell into cohesive units. We’ll still see a few extra players working out at WR and LB probably due to injuries and the safeties will most probably be platooning this season also.

However, we’ll see answers at RB, OL, DL, TE and QB being pretty much set after the coaches have a chance to digest the scrimmage films.

RB is going to be very interesting as right now Shell is the 4th RB in terms of getting practice reps. We are flush with RBs this season and Malcolm Crockett is a good ballplayer to have to beat out for that 3rd slot. Crockett vs Shell is going to be very interesting to watch develop from now until Sept 1st

I know everyone and his brother thinks that Shell is for sure going to the NFL in three years but it would be nice to be solid the #3 RB on your college team before that happens.

Don’t forget, he has Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett alongside him for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Then he has Cory Clement coming in next season also. Those are some quality guys to compete against for playing time.

Now, I think Shell will get a starting playing time at PITT but it may not be this year or even next depending on how well Bennett and Crockett do. He’s going to be in an Chryst offense that uses a lot of RBs so that is good. But he may not be a “big yardage superstar” until later in his college career if at all.

On a personal note I could understand not redshirting Shell this season so that he could be a short yardage back or to play some FB, which I don’t think would happen (FB) but would like to see it. Can you imagine having Shell back there and not knowing when he’ll get the ball. He’s built for blocking so could help out, but I’m not sure using a year of eligibility for spot play is worth it in this case.

Comment by Reed 08.16.12 @ 10:02 am

^^^ Sorry about the typos.

Comment by Reed 08.16.12 @ 10:04 am

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