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.”
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:
James Conner could be a steal for #Pitt, kid has a great motor.
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) August 14, 2012
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.