January 23, 2013

Poker? I Hardly — Oh, Forget It

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 4:17 pm

Hey another verbal.

Zach Poker out of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He’s listed as a tight end, but by all accounts he will be converting to a linebacker., and 247 have him unranked. says 2-stars. And in the most shocking rarity, all 4 sites agree on his size and weight. He’s listed at 6-4. 220 pounds.

Poker had offers from Syracuse, Army and Air Force. Wisconsin showed some late interest, but only so far as offering to let him walk-on (Insider subs).

“I heard from [Wisconsin] this morning,” Poker said, “but I committed to Pitt.”

Poker officially visited Pittsburgh this weekend and added an offer while on the visit. He also held FBS offers from Air Force and Syracuse.

“The visit went well,” Poker said Wednesday night. “I got to see the city of Pittsburgh and meet the coaching staff and current players. It seemed like it was a cool city to be in.”

The Panthers coaches want Poker as a strongside linebacker, but they have not ruled out playing offense.

Part of the appeal of Pitt — aside from being the best scholarship offer received — is that Poker plans to major in engineering.

Another Wisconsin native, Jester Weah, plans to decide on Pitt, BGSU, Colorado State or Wyoming this weekend. After he completes finals (Insider subs).

Question: just because there are open schollies, couldn’t it behoove the staff to hold onto them for maybe better prospects next year? I guess that in 2 years when some of these guys fail to make any impact, they can transfer to Wisconsin Green Bay.

Don’t get me wrong — this guy may turn out to be Max (forgot his last name) with more speed (and I hope he does), but I am not very impressed at the moment

Comment by wbb 01.23.13 @ 4:27 pm

I’ve heard some interesting names in my life, but Poker?

Comment by steve1 01.23.13 @ 4:31 pm

Max Gruder …. I see on Pantherlair that Britton, a much higher rated LB from Harrisburg is interested. Hate to see the schollies used up and maybe have to shut out a more promising recruit.

Comment by wbb 01.23.13 @ 4:33 pm

To wbb: Max Gruder.

Comment by JR 01.23.13 @ 4:34 pm

If he wants to study engineering, he has to be a good get!

Comment by John In South Carolina 01.23.13 @ 4:35 pm

LOL re: height, weight

Comment by steve1 01.23.13 @ 4:40 pm

I admit it is hard to get excited when you beat a walk on offer from Wisconsin for one and offer from Bowling Green for the other.

Comment by Wayne 01.23.13 @ 4:54 pm

I think poker will be ok like his hight has the look of a football player abought him.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.23.13 @ 4:55 pm

39 days no DC.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.23.13 @ 4:57 pm

The kid from Harrisburg, Chris Britton, is having eligibility issues and that is why Pitt offered him a gray shirt

Comment by Joe Bull 01.23.13 @ 5:03 pm

There is so little depth on this team at so many positions that it’s probably better to restock the cupboard as much as possible over the next year or two. At this point, I’d rather rebuild some depth quickly with 2 & 3-star players than risk being in the same boat a couple of seasons down the road because we sat around waiting for more 4s or 5s to come along who never did. Once we plug the gaps and have some consistent depth, then be more stingy with scholarships, but for now I think we just need to get enough decent players in the system, even if they aren’t superstars. I have to assume that’s how Chryst is looking at it.

Comment by AnotherSteve 01.23.13 @ 5:06 pm

Sorry for a stupid question, but what is a gray shirt?
Also, if Weah accepts, will we still have room for a RB like Kemp if he chooses Pitt?

Comment by Rex 01.23.13 @ 5:09 pm


Grey shirt is a term used to designate an incoming freshman who waits until the second semester to enroll rather than the fall. College athletes are allowed a five year calendar to play four seasons. The calendar begins once one is enrolled. By waiting until the spring to start college, a player will be playing his last season in the sixth year after high school rather than the fifth.

Comment by winedogs 01.23.13 @ 5:33 pm

Here is an article about Chris Britton and his being offered a grey shirt and scholarship from Pitt.

link to

Comment by Justinian 01.23.13 @ 5:59 pm

Just a reminder that two of our best players last season – Jason Hendrix and Devin Street were Rivals 2-star. Welcome aboard Zach.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.23.13 @ 6:09 pm

Amen Atlanta Panther! I would also like to welcome Zach Poker to Pitt. Congratulations to Chris Britton on the offer, we hope to see you here as well.

Comment by Justinian 01.23.13 @ 6:27 pm

I need some clarification on the number of scholarships allowed per year. Is it 25? I realize we had four guys start early so they were considered 2012 recuits. What if you don’t use the 25 can you carry them over for several years in the future?

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 01.23.13 @ 6:42 pm

Gabe Roberts has worked out it seems. But taken a flyer who knows I don’t really like it. Especially since they have stopped recruiting Veii and Gibbs. But hey can’t win it all and at the very least bump up that GPA and get a character kid. Welcome Poker. 3 ships left Kemp? Weah? Jones? Britton? It may work out perfect here. I think we got Jones. 50/50 on Weah and Kemp. Britton gets a spot If he qualifies. You can’t really stockpile ships for those that asked.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 01.23.13 @ 7:36 pm

We have 26 now that means we have 3 more to give
do we save one for foster.
or do we give them all out to who ever says yes.
if it were i i would call kemp and say it is now or never.
and give 2 more to who ever says yes first.
and save one for foster.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.23.13 @ 8:08 pm

you’re making my point, frankcan. I would rather wait and then offer Poker towards the end than to lose someone valuable at the last minute

Comment by wbb 01.23.13 @ 8:15 pm

Wbb i under stand what you are saying.
but even with giveing one to poker we have 3 left
i think we give out the next 2 to who ever says yes first and save one for someone valuable.

remmber the old saying a bird in hand is better then 2 in the bush.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.23.13 @ 8:22 pm

FRANKCAN, how many days will it be tomorrow that we haven’t hired a DC?

Stars, Smars, does everybody remember the dumbass immature completely clueless individual that they were back in the good old days of their senior year in high school? Now I’ll admit, I realized that I had some potential to develop into a reasonable adult at that point in my life, but really to try to comprehend what the potential of a 17 or 18 year old kid athelete is, ranks right up there with attemptig to predict where our screwed up economy is headed in the five years, good luck on that one.

Our newest recruit, Poker, could end up being the next McKillop or just as easily , never be heard from again. What I find truly laughable however is that a program that has been in such recent disarray as the University of Pittsburgh Football program has been has fans that actually are questioning the coaching staff’s judgements on offers that they extend to recruits.

At this pont in time, if the athlete in question can qaulify for a scholarship and has the ability to get his football pants pulled on correctly in lest than 5 minutes, and actually has a true desire to play for the Pittsburgh Panthers, then we should be welcoming all of those said athletes into the Pitt program with nothing less than wide open welcoming arms. Who the fu*k do you think we are, freakin Alabama or LSU??? Reality check my friends!!!

BTW, Foster is long gone, wish him well and move on. Anybody that wants to hold a scholarship open for him probably thinks that Tao’s GF is going to come back from the grave to become his bride before the start of next season too. LOL!

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.23.13 @ 8:45 pm

It is a couple more weeks to sign day. Hold a couple back. You never know who will actually sign or not.

Comment by Frank MD 01.23.13 @ 8:47 pm

DR TOM i think 39 we will wait till after the super bowl it seams he must be on a pro team.

Comment by FRANKCAN 01.23.13 @ 9:15 pm

I know this is way too early and sorry for the tangent, but I posted this (link to😉 over on cardiachill in response to an article. So, if anyone is coming down to Durham for the Pitt-Duke game next year, this might be helpful.

Comment by panther94 01.23.13 @ 9:19 pm

I like it that we are recruiting some guys who are exceptionally good students as well as real d-1 football players and who want to study stuff like engineering and premed. Has Pitt worked it out so these guys can do their labs and still put in all their football practice time? I seem to remember Billy West having a problem with this his Sr. season which apparently caused a significant drop off in his playing time and stats. I really do hope Pitt has solved this since it is it is very significant in our having real student athletes. And yes I want Pitt to win as badly as anybody, especially since I live here in Maryland in ACC country. (In spite of Maryland’s cowardly defection due gross financial mismanagement of the athletic dept. and apparent lack of appropriate administrative oversight of that department. But that’s a topic for another time.) HTP!

Comment by OPFIM 01.23.13 @ 9:44 pm

OPFIM, you forgot about having that asshole Edsall as coach. Dr. Tom has a point. Foster is gone I think that’s why they felt comfortable enough to offer Weah. Concentrate on Kemp, Jones, Weah, and Britton. If the two fall through get someone else. If PC gets all the kids that verbaled I can’t complain about the class. I don’t think its great but its good. A big, heavy, and loaded with potential. Poker has nice size, is tough, smart, so we will have to see.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 01.23.13 @ 9:58 pm

Just looked at the Scout recruiting rankings. According to Scout we are #1 in the Big East, would be number #3 in the ACC (and very close to #2 North Carolina which is just above us in the national rankings) and #4 in the Big 10 (or Big 12 or 14) after U of M, OSU and Nebraska (although the 1st 2 are way ahead of the pack.) Not too shabby for HCPC and staff in his 1st full recruiting year. Yes I know all about the goofyness of stars and recruiting rankings but I also like the apparent systematic and thoughtful nature of PC and staff’s approach to recruiting. HTP!

Comment by OPFIM 01.23.13 @ 10:19 pm

The 2 LB recruits have something in common. While 2 things actually.

Neither one is particularly highly ranked but they appear to have smarts which is needed for the signal caller of the defense. So I’m guessing this is the main strength of these 2 recruits. Poker and Matt Golumbus or something.

I think that’s why the defense played alot better with Dan Mason playing since he had to be somewhat limited physically. But he knew where to be positioned PRIOR TO THE SNAP, which is so important. And he knew where the other LB’s needed to be positioned. Same thing with Gruder previously. McKillop before him.

Every good defense needs a coach like LB on the field, the signal caller, the QB of the defense if you will.

So now we have two of these type kids. Cudos

Comment by EMel 01.23.13 @ 10:53 pm

Beantown-Sean, Edsall isn’t my nominee for man of the year either however he did come in under the new President, athletic director and is the new football coach along with a new basketball coach. They inherited the financial mess in the athletic dept. Don’t like their major effort to fix it and I’m glad we are Pitt fans where the financial house is in order. Yes I would like to pull in 60,000 for football games so we could use some of the revenue to expand our offerings of other sports e.g. field hockey, lacrosse and even ice hockey. HTP!

Comment by OPFIM 01.23.13 @ 11:35 pm

I like where this thread is going. And Dr. Tom as usual your comments are right on the money. OPIFM makes some good points too – especially about the systematic and thoughtful nature of how they are recruiting? Who can remember the last time a head coach brought in a balanced class that added depth to nearly every position of need? Especially both lines It’s been a while. Anybody we add at this point is icing on the proverbial cake.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.23.13 @ 11:57 pm

lol Dr. Tom and great perspective from OPFIM on our rankings. As Beantown just said the kid Poker is “smart and tough” and that is a theme for this program and coach… he is picking players who will bring true physicality and toughness and are smart enough to get good football concepts.

Pc is working a plan cool and methodical … love it.

Tomulsa the DL coach from the 49ers would seem to fit this approach really well.

Comment by PittScript 01.24.13 @ 12:00 am

right on the mark Atlanta Panther…

Comment by PittScript 01.24.13 @ 12:01 am

EMel’s point on the LBs is well said… intelligence and toughness is a great combination as we should know here in WPA. Screw “high octane” BS… let’s play some real ‘ball…

PC built team on Toughness and smart football will be a competitive advantage in the ACC.

Comment by PittScript 01.24.13 @ 12:05 am

When it comes to football, you can’t have it both ways. If you are proud of the team getting 2 star recruits who are going to be actual STUDENT athletes, then you better not expect double digit win seasons and BCS bowl games and you better not get all bent out of shape over losses. Also, the whole idea that BCS college football is for actual students is pretty antiquated at this point. It’s all about the money and trying to get to the NFL.

Also, saying all this BS about smart 2 stars and getting a balanced class is just rationalizing poor recruiting. Say Chryst had only one scholarship left and he had to pick between Poker and a 4 star top 20 LB, Chryst is definitely picking the 4 star dude. Chryst doesn’t choose to recruit 2 stars, he’s forced to recruit 2 stars.

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.24.13 @ 12:32 am

I agree with the last part of your comments Ward.

I think some folks in Palo Alto would disagree with the first part. Stanford seems to be putting together lots of double digit win seasons and BCS bowl games with STUDENT athletes.

I suppose it does help to have lots of 4 and 5 star student athletes…

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 01.24.13 @ 2:23 am

6-4 and 220 coming out of highschool means this kid may have a lot of room to ‘grow’. If he puts on 30 pounds, we’ll have a 6-4 strong-side linebacker that has the speed to blitz off the edge and cause some real havoc.

I don’t think this is a bad pick at all. Especially since the LB core will need depth next year.

Comment by Benzene 01.24.13 @ 6:13 am

Not a bad pick. A project with upside. Sadly the top programs often get kids that are ready to play right away and don’t have to wait until junior year. I think in time Chryst will get a 4 star over 2 star projects. He’s doing the best he can. Winning will help. Stability. The ACC. And a few more dynamic recruiters along with some southern kids in the ACC footprint. He’s on a 4 year plan. Again, judge the man come 2014. That is make or break year.

Comment by TX Panther 01.24.13 @ 6:41 am

By make, I mean a top twenty finish and bowl game win. I expect Pitt to win the ACC come 2015. I wonder what stevie and nordy expect? But those knuckleheads probably won’t be around by then. And I trash nordy because he and he alone is the reason we have smiley. I’d like to rip that smile right off stevies face.

Comment by TX Panther 01.24.13 @ 6:48 am

Regardless of how many stars a recruit has, I like Chryst offering scholarships to scholastic athletes. Think about how many college athletes never make it to the professional level. Getting an education should still be #1 but we all know it’s always about the $$. No wonder our country has to go abroad to get good technical people. Bring back the slide rule. 😉


Comment by MariettaMike 01.24.13 @ 7:17 am

Dr Tom, I am not picking on this staff’s judgment on the recruits .. just this pick in particular which really seems like a reach. Ans I listed above, I hope I’m wrong.

Now I’m not totally sure how these scholarships work … but if they are use them or lose them, then I can maybe understand this pick.

If not, then I don’t see why they would offer especially with 3 weeks left before LOI and only a few openinings left.

Comment by wbb 01.24.13 @ 7:30 am

donatell from 49s will be dc, major rumors the acc will not be the one we signed up 4, by aug., unless swafford is agenius.

Comment by paul shannon 01.24.13 @ 7:34 am

and further, while your comments about the program being in disarray and the rosetr being a nit understaffed is correct, LB is one of the positions where they are not.

It could be that at 6’4 220, this could eventually work out at DE after putting on 30 lbs … didn’t the older McKillop do that?

Comment by wbb 01.24.13 @ 7:34 am

Paul, where are you hearing these rumors?

Comment by Benzene 01.24.13 @ 7:44 am

Don’t let the dude from WVU scare you. Nothing is happening in college football outside signing day. Hence, expansion rumors heat up again. These guys make money by blog hits. This topic drives in the traffic. Pitt is in fine shape. Don’t worry about something you can’t control. Pitt has done its best to control the situation. Don’t know much about the SF guy. Is he any good? Can he recruit? What are his ties to Chryst?

Comment by TX Panther 01.24.13 @ 7:49 am

@ Wardapalooza, take a chill pill my friend. I’m not hearing anybody excitingly creamin their jeans over this Poker recruit. On the contrary, I think that most have commented that he was lightly recruited and not highly ranked by the recruiting services. But just because the kid is off the radar a bit doesn’t mean that he is a low potential, loss cause, right off the bat. And the inference that he was only offered to fill an open spot in this class because a scholly was still available is kind of insulting to him, IMO.

You’re absolutely right that the Alabama’s and USCs of the NCAA world are the schools that are blessed with the first choices of the low hanging fruit, sometimes it just falls right in their laps, (ie. Robert Foster, taken right out of our backyard). This is the spoils of success. And success breeds more success. Pitt, at this juncture, is fortunate to be able to fill out their class with the quality of recruits that we currently have verbals to this point IMHO. Pitt presently has NOTHING to sell to these guys except a vision of the future right now. And that future is very interesting indeed with the jump to the ACC, a new HC that has demonstrated that he is in this for the longer haul and a core fan base that is lusting for its football program to return to the glory days of decades ago for some time now.

So Coach Chryst is placed in the position, at this point, with having to climb up a little higher in that tree to find the fruit that maybe isn’t quite as desirable or as well known for his players but it doesn’t mean that the quality of the product is necessarily inferior to the prime crop of the tree, because there are thousands of good graduating HS football athletes out there every year to be considered.

And your also right that if we have a roster completely filled with “projects” that are unknowns and lowly rated that our football program will probably be destined to muddle along in mediocrity for years to come. But that is far from the case in this class. Coach Chryst has definitively addressed the obvious weaknesses of the current roster by bringing in multiple O linemen, some highly recruited and ranked as well as a group that is balanced at other positions for future use. Therefore to take a chance or two on guys that may or may not work out in the long run is perfectly acceptable at this late stage in the process. And as it has already been posted by others above, this Poker kid IS smart and motivated. He has the basic body stats to suggest that he has the potential to be a contributor down the road and even though he may be a “project” he may turn out to be just the kind of player that Pitt needs in the future. You don’t know, I don’t know, Coach Chryst doesn’t even know. However Pitt is paying Chryst & Co. the big bucks to make those kinds of analysis and offers to these HS athletes, so if they have offered this Poker kid, then that’s good enough for my stamp of approval too, cause they sure as hell have put more time into researching this recruit than you, me and everbody else on this blog has, I can assure you of that.

We’ll all see soom enough if these bets pan out or not, it’s always a crap shoot, even with the “sure” bets sometimes. Just be happy that we got another recruit to help reinforce the linebacker corps, we need everybody we can get at this point in the program.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.24.13 @ 7:49 am

BTW, to those who were complaining about going all the way to Hawaii for our recruit Taleni, I got bad news for you, the kid is Samoan. So now, in essence, we went half way around the world to pluck a guy from the Island of Samoa to plug up the middle of the Pitt defensive line. Hilarious!!

He also stated that he could have played for the U of Hawaii, (I never saw that he was offered though) but that he wanted to play his college ball out on the east coast. Welcome aboard, I like this kid. Check out the article below.

link to

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.24.13 @ 8:03 am

we have all 3 starters coming back at LB. We also have Gricksby, Mason and Price as backups. We also have Rippy and Porsia, 2 highly rated freshmen redshirts as well as Emanual Rackard and Mike Capara, last year’s 2-star commit sensation.

I take no issue if we offered a 3 star LB at this time but not a reach.

Comment by wbb 01.24.13 @ 8:05 am

I’m not saying it is impossible to be good with actual students, more that your margin for error is a lot smaller. Stanford is good academically, but they also had a top 5 recruiting class last year.

Rumors are just rumors. The WVU guy just spouted a bunch of BS about how his sources say UVA and Gtech are going to Big 10 and FSU and whomever are going to Big 12. His sources aren’t anything. He’s been wrong again and again. He said FSU and Clemson were a lock to leave last summer. It would be like me posting a rumor on my blog that the ACC is accepting PSU and OSU in July with ND becoming a full member. Also, from lot of what I’ve read, it seems like some of the money is starting to dry up. I guess the Big 12 wanted ESPN to guarantee an 18% increase or something if they added FSU and ESPN refused. Plus, if the Big 10 thought they could get say UVA and Ga Tech or something, don’t you think they would have added them before MD and especially Rutgers? Not worth worrying about.

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.24.13 @ 8:10 am

BTW, Rivals has Poker listed as a TE

Comment by wbb 01.24.13 @ 8:12 am

The worst thing about college football recruiting is this viscious chicken and egg cycle. You need to win to get the best recruits and you need the best recruits to win. Its a tough cycle to break. Obviously you need to find ways to win with lesser talent for a number of years until the top level recruits start seriously considering your school. I think this is where Walt harris excelled. He was able to get some real top level talent that a lot of other schools overlooked.

I’m wondering what the ratio is of 4 and 5 stars that are a bust compared to 2 and 3 stars that excel?? Just wondering if more top recruits tend to disappoint or more lower star recruits tend to surprise?

Comment by Coach Ditka 01.24.13 @ 8:31 am

psu insiders with execellent info but rumors are rumors, they had the rut. md, months before

Comment by paul shannon 01.24.13 @ 8:40 am

Dr. Tom, I know no one is saying that Poker is the next big thing and I don’t have a problem recruiting smart kids and projects. It just annoys me a little when the talent level of a recruit is downplayed because he is smart (I guess this what happens in the middle of winter, debate small points). You are 100% correct that Chryst is fighting an uphill battle with recruiting, which is why I think the current recruiting class is solid.

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.24.13 @ 8:41 am

Paul Shannon, what are the schools the PSU insiders are saying are going to the Big 10?

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.24.13 @ 8:42 am

gt is the most costant, hey better rumor coming, ncaa with all headlines, psu stuff may be remove or lowered,3stoogesmay get off rumors are rumors

Comment by paul shannon 01.24.13 @ 8:50 am

My guess is that PC has had his eye on this kid for a while. He sees potential down the road. Remember the noise when Fraud recruited Grigsby, I think 4 stars from Ohio. This will be his third year and he is still a back-up.

Also, isn’t Poker the 7th Tight End recruit, they aren’t all going to play tight end.

By the way, If Price is healthy, he will be a starter.

In Chryst we trust, other than Foster, who could have helped this year, Chryst has righted the ship, which has been listing for a while.

Comment by gc 01.24.13 @ 9:02 am

We have to remember that although this class is big… some kids will wash out and transfer opening scholarships in the future

Comment by Pittastic 01.24.13 @ 9:40 am

I just want to make a comment about the recruits and their number of stars. The coaches on the Pitt coaching staff know the qualities that they are looking for in their players. I don’t think the number of stars by a rating service is the be all and end all. Too many good ball players like Jack Lambert, Jerry O, and even Devon Street, currently on the Pitt roster, have shown that they were much better than anyone initially realized. I figure that if the staff likes what they see in player, then we should give them the benefit of doubt.

Comment by Justinian 01.24.13 @ 9:43 am

Grigsby was redshirted this past year but actually started a game when he was a freshman. 3 redshirt LBs with alleged talent are he, Devon Porchia and Desean Rippy who was recruited heavily by Florida for a while.

Comment by wbb 01.24.13 @ 9:43 am

A few years back, I asked a good friend of mine who coaches the football team of a very large Catholic High School in Columbus, what he thought of college football coaches and “star” ranking recruits.
He told me that he was always more impressed with coaches who made their own decisions on players and ignored the rankings.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Chryst is a pretty good judge of talent and knowing where that taelnt will fit into his team.
With that said, we are filling spots and by anyone’s measure have a good class AT THIS TIME.
It will matter most when the team hits the filed for real and the young guys turn into seasoned college football players.

Comment by sfpitt 01.24.13 @ 9:58 am

I have a bigger rumor. WVU started out like a couch on fire in the BIG 12, fans thinking National Championship and Heisman trophy. They then proceeded to crap the bed.

Wait, that’s not a rumor, that actually happened.

Ok, here’s another rumor. WVU basketball is absolutely sucking and wetting the bed.

Wait, again, not a rumor, that’s actually happening.

The fun of a new conference, with new teams, new faces, new cities, new uniforms kind of looses it’s luster when your teams suck.

The mileage and time to travel suddenly become a sore point too when you’re not doing to well.

Just some morning thoughts for any trolls!!!

Comment by Dan 01.24.13 @ 10:16 am

For those of you criticizing the most recent recruit….have you seen him play? Have you watched film of him and had discussions with his coach? Come on people, there is not one person on this blog that can objectively judge this kid or his selection by PC.
If this kid played at Woodland Hills everyone would be jumping for joy.

Comment by notrocketscience 01.24.13 @ 10:38 am

@ wbb, you are right, Poker has played on the offense in HS at TE. I assume that he is listed at the LB position for Pitt because that is the position that Chryst recruited him for. Of course that makes him even MORE o f an unknown and a bigger risky “project”. So your points on who we have at LB coming on this Spring are valid also. Poker if he amounts to anything at the linebacker position, probably won’t see the field until he has redshirted and is an upper classman, if at all. So we see what we will see in three years or so. In the meantime, we have the variables of injuries, transfers, future recruits, personal and academic issues to shake up the mix on determining who is even around in two or three years into that future.

Justinian and sfpitt bring up good points in that Chyrst seems to have a shopping list of the type of player that he is looking for. Maybe some of the characteristics high on his list are intangibles like, desire, competitiveness, smarts, motivation, etc. Things that are difficult to put a star rating on when the kid is 17 years old but can be assessed if the recruiting staff takes the time and effort to actually get to know the recruit up close and personal during the process.

So far I like what Chryst has on paper with his OWN first recruiting class. The real assessment will be valid a couple years down the road when we see how this class pans out on the field.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.24.13 @ 10:54 am

on the other hand .. if is was a PSU commit, we all would be saying that they have just about reached the bottom of the barrel

Comment by wbb 01.24.13 @ 10:56 am

Coach Ditka, All you have to do is look at the NFL draft and see all the high draft picks that fail to live up to expectations. The NFL teams spend a lot of time and money evaluating talent, they also have greater data and film to make their assesments. Dispite more information and greater resources, they often miss the mark on player evaluation. I think certain people are good at seeing and elvaluating talent. When you look at Wiconsin’s program, they have had a awful lot of good players who were rated as 2 star guys coming out of high school. That tells you 2 things about them. One, they good at evaluating players and they also good at developing them.

Comment by Justinian 01.24.13 @ 10:56 am

GREAT point Justinian! We have to believe PC knows what he’s doing based on his experience and the fact he comes from a coaching family. We’ve been discussing these rating issues for a long time and found so many quality athletes go unrated. Not every high school has quality coaches and only a little coaching may be all that’s needed to turn someone into a superstar.

I haven’t checked into the backgrounds of the rating analysts but if they were so good, wouldn’t they be working for the best programs in the country?

Comment by JD 01.24.13 @ 11:35 am

You guys are severely over estimating the number of 2-star recruits at Wiscy. From 2010 to 2012, Wisconsin had a total of 11 2-star recruits. The current Pitt class has 10 2-star recruits. Also, by the way, PC made tons of offers to whole bunch of 4 star guys, so the guys who are signing aren’t his first choice. And if stars don’t matter why is PC making these offers?

Comment by Wardapalooza 01.24.13 @ 11:48 am

Watching the film on Poker he played both Tight end and linebacker. He looks like he moves okay and has good hands.

Comment by gc 01.24.13 @ 11:53 am

Good recruiting class. Called building a program. Will he be successful, won’t know for a couple years.

You have to start somewhere. Get the best kids you can get at the present time.

Work with those kids, prepare them, and try to have progressively better seasons, till hopefully, you become a top 20 program.

Then, recruiting becomes much easier as the program helps sell itself.

We’re still in the early stages.

Comment by Dan 01.24.13 @ 12:25 pm

One more thing I would add. This is America, land of the underdog. This is Pittsburgh, land of the blue-collar work ethic. How sweet is it to win with a bunch of two-star guys that worked their tails off then to win with a bunch of four star guys who expect it? Pretty damn sweet. Sure we all want to have a class loaded with four-star talent. But the bottom line is that that type of class isn’t going to happen. In the meantime I’ll be rooting for the Jeremiah Talenis and the Zach Pokers of the world to show all the so-called experts just how wrong they were. Hail to Pitt.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.24.13 @ 12:53 pm

Play the cards you got, right Atlanta Panther? Just win baby, win.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.24.13 @ 1:05 pm

We need more coaches like Bobby Engram. The guy seems to be the only real recruiter we have that is making any real progress.

Comment by JJ 01.24.13 @ 1:22 pm

Well sometimes you win a hand with few outs by bluffing. I’d still rather make my hand at the flop rather than chasing my flush at the river.

Comment by TX Panther 01.24.13 @ 1:22 pm

I seemed to have influenced many of the emails posted here with the first posting above. First off, I am pretty pleased with the recruiting class but, of course, we will all see what happens over the next few years.

My big concern is specifically this recruit and wondering if it’s the time to offer him. Again, what I want to know is how this schollie process works. Is it like my work vacation time … use it or lose it since you can’t carry any vacation until the following year? If so then maybe this pick is justified.

But if not, maybe there is no need to reach since we already have so many coming in including the 4 that are already attending class.

While I certainly hope Poker proves to be a good pick, I do know that if he would have comitted to PSU, we would all be scoffing.

Another thought .. if no other really attractive recruits commit, maybe Chryst can use it on a walk-on for next year only who has been toiling on the practice squad for the past 2 years. Some of these kids may be just as qualfiied as some of these recruits.

Comment by wbb 01.24.13 @ 1:48 pm

Good points wbb. Now answer me this, I’m still not clear on this issue. So we had four recruits, Soto, Chapman and 2 others that have signed early and are on campus already in this current term of academic year 2012-13. These guys therefore count as recruits in the 2012-13 academic year recruiting class. So this permits Chryst to add four more scholarship players to the 2013-14 recruiting class above the 25 player annual limit per year.

Now here is my question, do these four early enrollees that are on campus now, do they, in essence, lose a year of playing eligibility for FOOTBALL since this 2012-13 football season is already completed and that they are considered recruits towards that 2012-13 class?

Another way of asking this question would be, do these early enrollees still have FIVE years of eligibility (if they use a redshirt year) going forward, those would be academic years, 1) 2013-14, 2) 2014-15, 3) 2015-16, 4) 2016-17 & 5) 2017-18, just like all the rest of this current recruiting class would have? OR do they lose the 2017-18 year because they are early enrollees and have the current academic year 2012-13 counting as their first year of eligibility.

Can somebody please make this answer clear enough so that even can understand it???

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.24.13 @ 2:32 pm

The early enrollees still have 5 years to play their 4 years of football.

Comment by rayhpgh 01.24.13 @ 2:58 pm

Dr. Tom,
The scholarship numbers are more of an accounting trick than anything else. The early enrollees count toward the previous year’s limit, if you have room for them. They still have 5 seasons to play 4, starting with the upcming fall.
I believe they count toward the previous year because they are enrolling in this school year. It does not effect their sports eligiblity at all.

Comment by Rob 01.24.13 @ 3:00 pm

Yep, and the SEC coaches and Urban are the Ken Lay’s of recruiting.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 01.24.13 @ 3:19 pm

I thought your posts were good wbb. My post, was actually on it’s own really.

Human nature, especially these days, to do the what have you done for me lately, instantaneous success.

I have to remind myself at times, of what I’ve always said. “would like a guy to come in and stabilize the program, and build a program.”.

It’s hard, as a fan sometimes to maintain that thought pattern. We all want to win, and win now.

Anyhow, your posts are always good, educational and well thought out.

For my specific post, I was just thinking out loud.

Comment by Dan 01.24.13 @ 3:22 pm

I like this Poker kid.

I always enjoy learning how to pronounce names of high schools in Wisconsin.

This is one of the better ones.

Oconomowoc (hope I spelled that right) :-)

Comment by EMel 01.24.13 @ 3:47 pm

And who wouldn’t want a cat quick 300 pound Somomian kid on your roster.

I really like that kid who lives on Oahu as I’ve been all over that island.

That is awesome, he’s gonna be good. We have in inroad now to recruiting Somoa. Which is better than Florida. Go Inoke !

Comment by EMel 01.24.13 @ 3:51 pm

As per the good statements late last night by some people about “smart” players… it referred “football smart”.

Poker is a tough player who is a heady ‘football smart’ player and that is precisely the type of player (irregardless of Polk) that we traditionally have in this region and that will allow PC to successfully run his pro style system.

PC doesnt want great athletes who cant handle college and will get to know the Pitt police personally… He doesnt want players who need a coach who slams headsets on the turf (WVU) and gets all ‘fired up’….

He wants tough intense players who get it when told something once… wow, what a concept…

Graham actually did us a favor by taking off because no one would have had the courage to fire him yr 2… Graham figured out quickly he had no way of being successful with his type of football here. And screw “high octane” anyway. and that is point … we have the coach, philosophy, and system that will work here… and that we will enjoy watching.

Also get real about why we are in the ACC folks… its because of our academic strength now as a university which fits the ACC brand of university. It certainly was not because of the strength of our sports programs (rather their potential over time). That is a fact.

yeah we need players that can read and write at a college level… good. Plenty of universities are successful that way period. PC is from Wisconsin which is an academically very challenging university.

Meanwhile PC now has an upper tier ranked recruiting class in the country, is addressing areas of chronic weakness (line play)… good QBs, running backs… etc. etc…. well positioned for 2014 local blue chippers… oh and now we are projected as a upper tier team right out of the gate in the ACC….

and our recruiting class is upper ranked in ACC…

… and we all know the star system is basically bullshit anyway (And do note that Dorian Johnson now has the coveted 5 star status… if that is important to someone).

The look and feel of what PC is doing is exactly right for rebuilding a program to be truly solid and successful. Fun to watch unfold so I’ll trust his judgment on how many slots he still has and how he knows the kids still on his list of prospects…

Comment by PittScript 01.24.13 @ 3:53 pm

Some people have very short memories it seems.

Didn’t we have two kids names Dion Lewis & Greg Romeus. Who nobody was recruiting.

And how did they turn out. Anyone older than say 16 should know college recruiting is a crap shoot.

Sheesh, take it easy.

Comment by EMel 01.24.13 @ 3:55 pm

Very good post PittScript.

Though I would disagree with this stmt;
“Graham figured out quickly he had no way of being successful with his type of football here. ”

We lost 4 games by a total of 12 points. And had we had a real D-1 QB those 4 games could have been won. That would have made us 10-2.

It was doomed to failure the minute he named Sir Tino starting QB. Just as the past season was as well. (let the sparks fly)

Comment by EMel 01.24.13 @ 4:03 pm

Could somebody address the effect of this class on the total max number of 85 scholarships .. the current roster on shows 70 players – no seniors and doesn’t look like any other players who’ve left/transferred .. 4 early enrollees and 26 verbals comes to 100 players potentially on scholarship .. how do those numbers work?

Comment by Hoopzebra 01.24.13 @ 4:06 pm

Well said PittScript! Anyone who is down on the current status of this program only needs to remember what the past few years have been like. It feels great to be heading into a season with a coach who actually coached the team the previous year. A coach who secured a solid recruiting class which hopefully will be a spring board for this program in a new and much improved conference. A conference that is going to pay Pitt much more which will hopefully translate into more funds being invested in the program. The future looks bright from where I’m sitting.

Comment by Floyd 01.24.13 @ 4:22 pm

I’m all in with this Pitt class. Who wants to call me?

Comment by TX Panther 01.24.13 @ 7:15 pm

i highly doubt ed donatell will be the dc. hes a candidate to be the new dc for the philadelphia eagles.

as for poker.. hes big and hes fast and hes smart. what more d you want in a linebacker?

Comment by pk 01.24.13 @ 8:22 pm

Boyd not visiting Rocky top. Thank god right. Are class is deep with 2 or 3 top prospects at the top. Deep program building class like most said. Of course I would prefer ***** recruits but hey if coach sees it and he wants to play for Pitt and is a smart good kid every program could use one of them.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 01.24.13 @ 8:24 pm

I’ll call TX, and raise ya a Foster..

Comment by Jackagain 01.24.13 @ 9:13 pm

Thanks rayhpgh and Rob for that info. Now who can answer Hoopzebra’s question? I can’t make the numbers crunch and I counted 74 current players on the roster, however I don’t know if that includes walk-on non-scholarship athletes in that total. But in any case the numbers do not seem to crunch correctly. Does Chryst say good bye to fifteen current players or what?

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.24.13 @ 9:21 pm

Another Top 20 team bites the dust tonight.

#19 VCU loses by 12 to Richmond.

Don’t know how VCU was ranked that high to begin with, but there it is.

Currently 11 of the Top 25 have lost their last game. Talk about parity. Every week almost half of the Top 25 loses.

This could be a year for Pitt to do the opposite of all those years, we seemed to peak in Jan/early Feb and then faded.

Maybe we keep getting better and actually make a run this year in a very parity filled Big Dance come March.

Comment by EMel 01.24.13 @ 9:40 pm

Thank God we all went to Pitt and are smart enough to figure this out. God forbid we were a bunch of WVU alum trying to muddle through this word problem.


Like Dr. Tom I currenlty see 74 players on the roster. Using my best judgement I can filter out 10 players that I don’t *think* are on scholarship. That leaves 64. This 64 includes transfers Savage and Durham.

Now if Tom Savage gets on a train heading West from New Jersey traveling at exactly 60 miles per hour and exactly one hour later David Durham gets on a train heading east from Columbus at 55 miles per hour… heheh


Footnote – Here are a list of players I *believe* are not on scholarship:

1. Brad Lukasak
2. Ethan Brown
3. Brett Zuck
4. Keegan Buck
5. Anthony Rippole
6. Pat Fisher
7. Drake Greer
8. Pat Quirin
9. John Guy
10. David Murphy

link to

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.24.13 @ 9:55 pm

Pitt Script, I think you summarize what many of us are feeling. HCPC has a plan and recruiting smarts. Seeing what he is doing so far I have no qualms at all at this time. “Neat” post.

Comment by OPFIM 01.24.13 @ 10:33 pm

@Emel – and Ben Howland took an unranked UCLA to Tucson and spanked Sean Miller’s #6 Wildcats – going to be a very interesting March Madness

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.24.13 @ 11:24 pm

That’s why Pitt just has to get in. They may surprise and go on a roll.

Comment by TX Panther 01.25.13 @ 6:32 am

weah is announcing today at noon. jojo kemp will announce sometime next week. that would put pitt at 28. the staff wanted to take 29 but it looks like there arent any more options other than possibly nigel harris an olb from florida. He might visit pitt but hes pushed back pitt visits a couple times now so the chances there are slim. If that extra spot that wouldve gone to the 29th recruit opens up, chris britton may be able to enroll this year if he chose pitts grayshirt offer and if he quaifies

Comment by pk 01.25.13 @ 6:54 am

oh and pitt is supposed to be the favorite for josh jones, the michigan safety

Comment by pk 01.25.13 @ 6:56 am

@ Atlanta Panther, yeah, I’m a Pitt grad but apparently I’m not smart enough to figure this math problem out, at least not to my satisfaction.

Even with 10 walk-ons on the current updated roster, that makes 64 players on scholarship. Add 27 to that (current verbal commits) equals 91. So my math tells me Coach Chryst has to drop the axe on at least six current scholarship players, unless there are kids in this recruiting class that are NOT going to qualify academically and have to go the prep school route for the 2013-14 season. Chime in here FRANKCAN you usually have all the answers on the recruiting scene. (and don’t try to side step the question by telling me how many days its been since we haven’t had a DC on board) LOL.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.25.13 @ 7:46 am

Signing day is Feb,2nd ?? (saturday) Becoming quite excited about the potential for this recruiting class & the manner in which PC & staff are forming the future National Champion Panthers. TX Panther I see your class & raise you a LB & RB. HTP!!

Comment by DC33 01.25.13 @ 9:23 am

Dr. Tom–Here’s how the math will likely be worked out (not in any logical order)–

(1) Any greyshirts enrolling in January 2014 do not count toward the limit of 85 ships. They are not counted until they enroll in January 2014. By then all 2013 5th year seniors will have graduated.

(2) Any 5th year seniors who are not on the 2-deep by the end of summer 2013 will be dropped–and presumably all who are dropped then will have graduated by summer’s end.

(3) There are usually a few guys with injuries that end their playing days–they can be kept on scholarship and not count against the 85–like we already know has happened with Ricketts. Additional injuries of this sort could crop up during spring ball or fall camp this summer.

(4) Some upperclassmen who by the end by the end of spring ball realize they will never see a down the rest of their career will transfer over the summer to a school at a level where they know they can play.

(5) A couple more upperclassmen possibly could reach the the same conclusion during fall camp in the summer and transfer out at that time.

Somehow, through all of these possibilities the number of players counted toward the 85 limit will drop from your current 91 (+/-) count by the start of school in fall 2013 to meet the NCAA overall limit of 85 which applies at that time.

Even the coaches probably don’t know how that is going to precisely work out at this time so they are rolling the dice just a little.

Comment by pitt1972 01.25.13 @ 9:38 am

FYI DC33, LOI signing day is Wed Feb 6th.

@ pitt1972, looked at and accounted for many of those contingencies you’ve itemized already in my list of 64. And I concur with your final analysis, that by the fall, when the season is ready to start there will be a half dozen players who will have determined, on their own, that it is time to move on or else they will need to be encouraged to move on by the coaching staff simply as a matter of necessity to comply with the 85 roster limit.

In most cases, it still sucks for them, whoever “them” are, since it requires either a financial burden, with a loss of scholarship if they want to continue their education at Pitt or an upheaval of their lifestyle if transferring to another school that may offer up a scholarship for them to finish their education.

Hard to make an omelette without breaking a few eggs however, I guess.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.25.13 @ 9:59 am

Yea not a great situation for the transferees but survival of the fittest makes the whole team stronger. Hail to Pitt.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 01.25.13 @ 10:45 am

Atlanta Panther, Pat Quinn still on the roster? He has to be in his 40th year of eligibility!

Comment by wbb 01.25.13 @ 11:17 am

Weah is a panther. His coach said he William Gault fast. Lightly recruited but tall and 4.5 speed so some thing to work with.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 01.25.13 @ 2:33 pm

O and Nigel Harris committed to USF the other day. so its down to Joshua Jones, Jojo Kemp, and Britton.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 01.25.13 @ 2:36 pm

good to see about Weah, thanks.
went out and found this nice review on Weah after hearing this here.
link to

4 WRs in this recruiting class now.

Comment by PittScript 01.25.13 @ 3:01 pm

Word is PC and Joe Rudolph were looking at Weah as a sophomore when they were at Wisconsin .. ran a 4.54 – 40 at the Nike HS combine .. averages 20 ppg in basketball .. has a 40″ vertical

Comment by Hoopzebra 01.25.13 @ 4:49 pm

Four good wide receiver recruits. Great competition with existing players.

Comment by Frank MD 01.25.13 @ 5:57 pm

Another thing I like about this class is the diversity. I mean look at the last few commits. 1 Jester Weah tall speedy nephew of a former Liberian presidential candidate from Wisconsin. 2. Poker, a tall rangy engineer LB from rural Wisconsin. 3. Taleni a beast DT somoan from hawaii. 4. Smith a south philly monster OT. 5. Webb an athletic WR/DB from a dynasty high school football program right here in Pittsburgh.

Comment by Beantown-Sean 01.25.13 @ 7:46 pm

Good perspective Beantown…. interesting.

Comment by PittScript 01.25.13 @ 9:57 pm

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