Pitt added its 5th O-line commit to the 2013 class with Jaryd Jones-Smith choosing Pitt today over Virginia, Michigan and others. For those who get bent out of shape over announcement ceremonies, Jones-Smith kept it simple. He thanked his mom and his coach and put on a Pitt hat (there was no hat game).
There’s a lot to like in the recruits for the O-line in this class, but except (maybe) for Dorian Johnson, none of them will be helping the O-line next year. The scary reality is that the O-line will be a big question mark and continue to be an injury (or suspension) or two from disaster. There’s reason fans — and probably the coaches as well — had such a sense of urgency over getting offensive line recruits.
Adam Bisnowaty will help next year, but Chris Jacobson and Ryan Turnley are gone. We don’t know what the situation is with Arthur Doakes following his suspension for the BBVA Bowl. Same with Juantez Hollins. How fast and well T.J. Clemmings adjusts to being an offensive lineman is still a question.
Scarily enough, it wasn’t like Pitt lost a bunch offensive linemen because of the coaching changes. There were no other OL recruited in 2010. In 2011, the only casualty of the carousel was
Devin Brandyn Cook who Coach Chryst encouraged to look elsewhere. That’s it. The best that can be claimed is that if Dave Wannstedt was still coaching this team in 2011 Pitt was in a good position to land J.J. Denman and Chris Muller. (Denman still considered Pitt, but ended up — along with Muller — at Rutgers.)
The last two years, Pitt has brought in a grand total of five offensive lineman — the same number committed for this year. Only three, however, will be on the roster next year. Tom Ricketts, who transferred from Penn State, has quit football to simply be a student at Pitt. Zenel Demhasaj was a JUCO who has graduated. While he had an additional year of eligibility, he has decided (encouraged?) to be done playing. The only OL from 2011 and 2012 classes are Bisnowaty, Artie Rowell and Gabe Roberts.
Rowell will take over at center. Bisnowaty is likely going to get a spot. Matt Rotheram will be in the mix along with Cory King. Hopefully Ryan Schliper comes back healthy. Other players that will be in the mix are Shane Johnson and Roberts.
The silver lining — and you have to look for it — is that with all the injuries and lack of depth over the last couple years. There’s a fair amount of versatility on the line. Schlieper, Rotherham and King are all capable of playing at multiple spots on the line. That at least allows for a better chance to play the best five.
The center spot is still the one spot of fear. They have to take good care of Rowell.