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June 4, 2013

Among the roughly 70 programs in the 5.5 major conferences only a handful of programs have just two recruits: Nebraska, Colorado and West Virginia. At one solitary recruit: Oregon State, UCLA, Indiana and Pitt.

Yes, Pitt is in the mix for many key players. In their top-3, -4, -5, -8. So far that hasn’t done much good. Pitt struck out twice over the weekend with two important targets. They weren’t 5-star elite talent, but they were good players in areas of need from Pennsylvania. They were players that it had at least appeared Pitt had placed something of a priority on securing their commitments.

Is there reason to panic? Absolutely not. There’s an entire summer. There are the camps. Most of Pitt’s biggest targets have not made a choice. Not to mention, unlike last year, Pitt can’t give out 25+ scholarships. There are only 18 seniors on this roster. This is not going to be a particularly high volume class.

But is there reasons to be concerned? Oh, hell yes.

Justin laid out some of the concerns last week. But over the weekend Pitt missed out on two linebackers. Chase Winovich from Thomas Jefferson. A local kid decided to go to Michigan. Then there was Zaire Franklin from the Philly area. Both of them were high 3-star recruits with the potential to finish their high school careers as 4-stars.

In both cases Pitt finished in the top-3, but not the final choice.

Franklin:

“What I liked is that I got a sense from the Syracuse coaches that they needed me instead of just wanting me,” Franklin said. “They made it clear how important I was to them.”

Franklin visited Syracuse from Thursday to Saturday morning.

“I woke up Sunday and knew this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “Everything just felt right about it.”

The 16-year-old, who lives near Broad and Ogontz in West Oak Lane, said Temple and Pittsburgh were the runners-up. He called off possible visits to Connecticut and Arizona, which contacted him Wednesday.

Winovich:

Winovich, rated a three-star prospect by rivals.com, had 21 scholarship offers, but recently trimmed his list to Michigan, Ohio State and Pitt. He said he telephoned Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickel with the news.

“Those were two of the toughest conversations I’ve ever had,” he said. “Rudolph is one of the greatest coaches, most trustworthy coaches I have met through this process. He said he was disappointed in my decision, but he appreciated the call.”

Winovich called Fickel “one of the greatest linebacker coaches in the United States.”

“It was an honor to be recruited by schools such as Stanford, Ohio State and Pitt,” he said. “It’s never an easy process, but I had to do what was best for me.”

In reading these kids comments, I couldn’t help but think back to what may be the best piece written on Chryst and how he views recruiting.

“To me, getting guys to buy in means you’re trying to sell something, and we’re not trying to sell anything,” Chryst said. “We’re in a process of creating a culture and we’re here to help players be the best players they can be and to represent this University with the best football team it can (be) and do it the right way. But I never felt like we had to sell anything or get them to buy in.”

For Chryst, the key to affecting real change in the players is not through convincing them or persuading them; it comes from a personal choice made by the players. The players have to decide for themselves, Chryst believes, if they are truly going to commit to an ideal.

… It’s not a “soft sell” or a passive approach; rather, Chryst believes a coach should provide express his interest in a recruit, provide information about the school, and let the prospect make his own decision. Only then, in Chryst’s opinion, is a recruit truly committed to a school when he makes a decision.“I think your job as a recruiter is to identify and then inform,” Chryst told Panther-Lair.com. “They should pick the best place for them, and I’ve never thought that coaches should tell someone what’s best for them. Our job is to inform, paint an accurate picture of who we are, how do you fit in; I think there’s that. But I think it truly is, you have to inform them of who you are and what you are, and they need to know who you are and what you’re about, and I think they then pick.

“I don’t want to say that’s the purest way, but I think it’s done right when people are picking it because it’s the best fit for them. Our job is to let them know everything, who and what is Pitt.

[Emphasis added.]

The piece includes some interesting quotes from some recruits back in December.

Among the recruits were Cincinnati (Oh.) La Salle cornerback Jaleel Hytchye and Deland (Fla.) running back Jojo Kemp; each is at the top of Pitt’s recruiting board at his position, and each heard the same points from Chryst on the visit.

“He said he’s really confident in Pitt and the coaching staff, but you have to do what’s right for you,” Hytchye said. “So he said if I have to take more visits, then go ahead and do what’s right for me. But he wants me to come to Pitt.”

“He wants me to make the best decision for me,” Kemp said. “He wants me to visit the other schools so that when I pick them, I do it because I want to do it, not because they forced me.”

Whether that approach is effective with Hytchye and Kemp remains to be seen.

It wasn’t, as both chose Kentucky and the new coach there, Mark Stoops.

And when I read the comments by these kids after they verbal elsewhere, Chryst’s words about wanting them to have the information and make the decision for themselves almost feel like they are thrown back at him (and Pitt).

It’s a noble ideal. Very respectable. Clearly it makes an impression on these kids to think long and hard about wanting to play for him. Playing for Pitt. Franklin knew Pitt wanted him, but Syracuse made him feel needed. Winovich said he chose Michigan because it was best for him.

Chryst has a luxury most other recently hired coaches don’t. Time. For all the talk of coaches not getting enough time anymore. The money, the demands, etcetera. He came into a Pitt situation where the coaching situation had become so unstable that there is no choice but to give him five years. Barring an absolute Paul Hackett/Johnny Majors II performance on the field, he’s got that time simply to make sure the program isn’t undergoing another round of churn so soon.

He has has the time to really do it the way he thinks it should be done. Pitt is his own laboratory experiment.





YUP and other boneheads, PC has been on the job for a year and a half. Turning a program around isn’t an overnight sensation like most of you who are so naiive believe. He is doing it the right way. Get off his back and try to have an intelligent conversation although it is very difficult for some of you. Also, Pittsburgh is a wonderful, unique place and those of you who don’t appreciate it JUST LEAVE. Belly-aching from some of you is becoming very boring! I love Pittsburgh and my alma mater!

Comment by barreman 06.04.13 @ 7:53 pm

I find UCLA having a ticket on this boat the most concerning thing out of all this. If this means they’re in a tough situation I can’t even imagine what it means for us.

Comment by Cool Hand Nuke 06.04.13 @ 8:12 pm

Well stated barreman

Comment by notrocketscience 06.04.13 @ 8:17 pm

@frankcan–the recruiting class years were those signing LOIs in February of that year. So the 2012 class was the class whose early recruits were signed in spring of 2011. I did goof up in omitting the 2013 class (which I think is the class you actually referred to) and confused it with the start of the current class which is the 2014 class. I will post a correction as soon as I have time to look it up.

The bottom line however remains that the lack of numbers of commits as of today (June 4) is not necessarily a problem based on Pitt’s past history overall.

Now, the fact that some local recruits of Pitt interest have committed elsewhere is of at least some concern (even though it has never been possible for Pitt to land all or most of the best local prospects); but that’s a topic separate from the numbers issues.

Comment by Pitt1972 06.04.13 @ 8:36 pm

@Frankcan–Here is the correction:

June 4

2014–1
2013–4

July 4

2014–1+?
2013–12

The 2003 to 2012 numbers remain unchanged.

Comment by pitt1972 06.04.13 @ 9:01 pm

barreman, keep drinking the koolaid.

Comment by Pitt.Dan83 06.04.13 @ 9:07 pm

Dan….. the Wisconsin State Journal says he talked to KU. See below. just a fyi. Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has been one of the hottest names in the head coaching rumor mill over the past year or so. Chryst, who has seen his team average at least 40 points per game each of the last two seasons, has been connected to head coaching gigs at Illinois and, now, Kansas, writes the Wisconsin State Journal.

A source close to Chryst told the State Journal that Chryst spoke with Kansas about the head coaching job that became open when the school fired Turner Gill after two seasons.

Comment by Upittbaseball 06.04.13 @ 10:12 pm

It doesn’t matter what jobs Chryst was considered for. We know some alum and Wisky AD pushed Chryst and that’s fine. I hope he is successful but my concern is his recruiting tactics.

The issue is about recruiting not whether or not Chryst should be hired. The article by Chas is quite clear. It is near “alarming” status.

Comment by Pitt.Dan83 06.04.13 @ 10:26 pm

barreman-What, people can’t disagree with PC and how he is doing things? If we don’t love every aspect of the coaching staff we should leave? FYSA I think most people on here loves Pitt and is on here because they do. Why don’t you stop your crying and try actually contributing? There are a lot of good points to both sides and this is a discussion board on Pitt football. Calm down.

Comment by Shawn 06.04.13 @ 10:57 pm

Should have known this topic would have brought out the worst.

Comment by panther94 06.04.13 @ 11:00 pm

Don’t forget, we’re gonna play a team from the other division at the end of the year in the championship game too!!
Comment by Dan 06.04.13 @ 5:33 pm

Yea I forgot about that Dan-o !

Comment by EMel 06.04.13 @ 11:51 pm

Based on what pitt 1972 posted, I guess we all need to chill until like August or Sept.

Unless all the top local recruits (like the ones Frankcan posted) commit to someplace else before then.

As Dan posted some time ago, we have been beat down so long, most of us feel like schleprock.

link to google.com

Comment by EMel 06.05.13 @ 12:01 am

In case pictures won’t suffice. haha

link to urbandictionary.com

Comment by EMel 06.05.13 @ 12:04 am

Lots of sturm und drang over something that 1) won’t be even realized until LOI Day and 2) won’t affect the play on the field for two or three years.

Comment by Reed 06.05.13 @ 5:46 am

AS FOR PAUL CHRYST-THE FAT LADY HASN’T STARTED TO SING YET-BUT SHE IS WARMING UP! RECRUITING IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF ANY PROGRAM, AND AT THIS POINT “IT AIN’T LOOKING GOOD”.

Comment by Wayne 06.05.13 @ 6:20 am

Wayne, I agree.
Everyone was looking at 2014 to be the class of good recruits. There were excuses for 2012 and 2013.

2012 class, everyone said that was remanents of Graham class that Chryst didn’t have enough time to make it his.
2013 class, everyone said he got a late jump on recruiting because he couldn’t do anything on 2013 recruiting until after Feb due to signing and final push for 2012 class.

So, what are the excuses going to be for 2014?

Comment by Pitt.Dan83 06.05.13 @ 6:41 am

Jury is out on the 2014 class. Calling it a failure at this juncture based on a few local 3-stars committing elsewhere early is simply paranoia. The same kind of paranoia occurred when Wanny lost a legacy or two early in the recruiting season and was ultimately meaningless in the long run.

I will reserve all judgment until Labor Day, at least, further judgment until January, and final judgment until LOI day.

Comment by Pitt1972 06.05.13 @ 7:24 am

Pitt1972, I didn’t call it a failure, but clearly Chryst recruiting tactics don’t work.
I could care less about where the recruits come from but if Chryst can’t land the top recruits from his backyard then he can’t land them from outside of wpial.

The basis for evaluating the 2014 recruiting efforts is to compare #commits of Pitt to other like programs. Most have 7-10 commits so far and mostly highly rated.
And before you say, commits don’t matter only LOI day matters. Over 95% of commits will stick unless there is a coaching change.

So, to quote Chas.
“But is there reasons to be concerned? Oh, hell yes.”

Comment by Pitt.Dan83 06.05.13 @ 7:39 am

This is my first time ever commenting on this board. Saying Chryst can’t seal the deal on these recruits is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if he is a great recruiter or not. I read the posts on here countless times talking about why would the best players in WPA come to Pitt? For the last 30 years, Pitt hardly ever gets the best player from WPA anymore. Do you guys really think Chryst isn’t trying to get these players?

These young guys who are being recruited by schools like Mich, OSU, ALA, etc are not going to choose Pitt over any of those schools at this point. The man has coached one single year, and people can actally predict what the man is going to do going forward?

We should all be happy that the man stayed around to try and clean up the mess that the football program has become. You all called Graham a snake oil salesman and all sorts of names, by the way he sold Pitt to the players, and most if not all of you was pushing for Pitt to get someone who would promote Pitt, and get players who wanted to come here. Now Chryst is trying to promote Pitt and you guys are now complaining that he should be a snake oil salesman.

If you all think that these players are not coming to Pitt, because Chryst is a soft sale and not promoting Pitt, then that goes to show you, how stupid it is to come on and post some of these insane comments. I now this is a discussion board, but no-one is discussing anything. It’s all about people acting like they no how to do something that they’ve never done themselves. It would be like Chryst, making comments about how you all need to do this or that at your jobs.

Give the man a chance before we make these out of the world statements about what kind of a coach, and person he is

Comment by outoftown 06.05.13 @ 7:45 am

@Pitt.Dan83

and Upitt, points taken, enjoy your banter, agree with both of you lots of times.

No problem with criticisms of Pitt, I do it myself.

My thing wasn’t even with Chryst or recruiting.

When a commenter starts to sound like a 12 year old, or a troll though, I gotta call them out.

Comment by Dan 06.05.13 @ 8:56 am

to follow up on Pitt1972’s post … in the spring of 2010, two Pitt legacies, Tom Ricketts whose dad played at Pitt and Miles Dieffenbach whose dad coaches tennis at Pitt. Further, at this date in 2010, Pitt only had Aaron Donald and Derrick Burns committed, and us natives were getting very wreckless.

Pitt went on to sign TJ Clemmings, Pat Murphy, Todd Thomas, K’Waun Williams, Mark Rotheram, Shane Johnson, KK Mosley Smith, Art Doakes, Anthony Gonzalez and Brandon Ifill … all who have contributed or should play a prominent role in this year’s team.

On the other hand, Wanny took a chance on 2 kids with already-troubled backgrounds (Knox and Peeler) that blew up in his face. This class also produced Carswell and Eric Williams who saw a lot of action the past 2 years before the recent drug bust.

All in all, a lot of talent was reeled in after June 5th … so the jury should still be out on HCPC.

Comment by wbb 06.05.13 @ 9:11 am

clarification: legacy Ricketts and Dieffenbach commited to PSU

and, us native were getting ‘restless’ … (and probably wreckless also)

Comment by wbb 06.05.13 @ 9:13 am

outoftown – don’t waste your breath.

This blog has become nothing but know-it-alls incessantly spewing the SAME nonsense over and over and over and over. I used to post a few times a week, now I barely post 1 or 2 per month because of it.

PC and Pitt had a recruiting class ranked in the 21-40ish range this past year (really can’t believe Scout has them at 21 for the 2013 class). For all the coaching turmoil since DW left, that’s about all one can expect. It just amazes me the folks expect the recruits to line up outside the SouthSide office chompin at the bit to sign with Pitt.

It’s really time to face reality. Right now, no one in their right mind could expect Pitt to keep up with OSU, Mich, Ala or even PSU!

Unless Pitt has less than 6-8 wins the next couple years, PC will still be here. So will all the recliner coaches dribbling suds on their keyboards while cutting and pasting the same crap on this blog.

Comment by pghFred 06.05.13 @ 9:54 am

pghFred, I believe the prupose of these blogs is for ‘know-it-alls’ to spew their thougths, and to counter-argue other ‘know-it-alls’ who has opposite viewpoints. You can either join the fray, or if it bothers you that much, don’t pay attention.

I have been saying for a few years now that there has been a delusion of grandeur from the Pitt faithful who believe things can revert back to late 70s glory days … and that the stability of a coach like Wanny was underappreciated … especially considering he provided the program its best 3 year run since those glory days.

Comment by wbb 06.05.13 @ 10:49 am

pghfred,
Pitt was ranked 35 in Rivals for 2013, however, it was a huge class of 27. You get more points for quantity.
However, if you look at the “quality” or average star, the ranking is in the 50’s.
Just say’in

Rivals and Scout boards delete any comment that is negative. This board has both which I appreciate.

Comment by Pitt.Dan83 06.05.13 @ 10:52 am

pghFred and Outoftown….amen! I’ve been a Blather reader for many many years and the comments have become increasingly painful. At first I rationalized that it coincided with the changes and the adversity facing the football program (despite our good fortune with landing in the ACC). But the comments these days are dominated by a handful of posters whose tone and approach are challenging. I no longer read comments with any consistency and Pitt Blather is not the must stop blog that it once was….I read Chas’ posts and move elsewhere. It’s too bad.

Comment by FG 06.05.13 @ 11:27 am

I still donate to Chas’ campaigns, though! Everyone should!! Thanks for all you do Chas.

Comment by FG 06.05.13 @ 11:29 am

I appreciate and fully support everyone’s right to post whatever they wish, but with only one season at HC, to say he is a ‘bad recruiter’ and ‘bumbling idiot’ is not a very well thought out opinion based on any facts. Posting the same thing over and over along with getting the last word in doesn’t make it anymore true.

PC’s first true recruiting class was ranked from the low 20s to the 40s (dan83 – point taken). What was Pitt’s power ranking in the season prior? I’ll be willing to bet we were lower than 50. Until Pitt produces on the field, that’s about all any reasonable person can expect.

PC is learning how to be a HC. I’ll agree that Pitt wasn’t prepared for a few games last season. But I would put that on the players as well as the coach. There were criminals and malcontents in that locker room and PC is weeding them out. I doubt that even Chuck Noll would have won more than 6 with that team.

wbb – I wholeheartedly agree there are many with delusions of grandeur regarding Pitt. Have they really forgotten this was a less than middle of the road program from the mid 80s until Walt was hired? Walt got us above average and DW just slightly above that. Then the woman beater and slimeball coaching fiascos occurred.

We should be thanking our lucky stars we got someone as highly regarded as Chryst to coach here. I WANT Pitt to win now, but I’m not going to start questioning him until he has time to build HIS program.

Comment by pghFred 06.05.13 @ 11:30 am

College football is all about what have you done for me lately. His Wisconsin day’s will be forgotten real quick if he doesn’t start to get some quality recruits in here. I am sure other reqruiters are telling these kid’s ” Come to our school instead of Pitt-who has Pitt recruited”???

Comment by Wayne 06.05.13 @ 1:01 pm

Our WEAKEST position on this team is the offensive line. Chryst got 5 solid OL to sign with Pitt this year. IMO that is a positive. We had more guys signed in this current class than we had scholarships available for (not anymore, of course), so he got some numbers working, that is also a positive.

I’m concerned that we don’t have more verbals than we do at this point, but the numbers that matter are the ones signing with Pitt on LOI Day.

I agree with others that say that recruiting is the life blood of any viable football program and HC Paul Chryst has to produce, for 2014, a top 30 recruiting class or Pitt is going to be in trouble going forward. This is especially true considering the house cleaning that is going on with dismissals and transfers.

The Jury is out on his win-loss record for a couple years but Chryst HAS to be successful NOW in the recruiting department. No excuses for 2014 in recruiting.

Comment by Dr. Tom 06.05.13 @ 1:14 pm

We’ve got WAYYYYYY too many “Joe D” types on here. Reed, outoftowwn, pghfred, Dr Tom, Dan,and you other reasonable people your comments are well thought out and well said. PC is not a miracle worker. I don’t believe that he will turn the program into a national champ in 2 or 3 years. We’ve simply got to give this guy some time. Yes, a 2013 recruiting class is essential but all of the hater bullshit on this site isn’t helping. I suspect that a couple of these guys that call PC a “Bumbling Idiot” are not intellectuakl giants themselves. If you’ve heard the man talk he sure sounds like a pretty good coach. The guy’s a FOOTBALL COACH not an English teacher.

I think some of you guys are Hoopie fans making negative comments so that any possible recruits reading this blog (and don’t say it doesn’t happen) read some of these ridiculous comments and no wonder they pick another school.

C’mon people…it’s not drinking the kool aid to be positive and patient. It’s sane… Get lives.

Comment by The Hagen 06.05.13 @ 5:16 pm

I understand being patient with the wins but I don’t understand how you can win in the future if you don’t recruit now. I have said before that I like PC but it is a must to have a few good recruiting classes in order for the wins to come.

Comment by Shawn 06.05.13 @ 8:06 pm

Hagen (excuse me, “The” Hagen):

Who in the hell are you, Pederson’s executive assistant?

Comment by TonyinHouston 06.09.13 @ 10:41 am

I doubt there is a “harder seller” out there than Todd Graham, so that’s not necessarily what you want in a recruiter. One recruit so far, however is concerning. This is one of the better WPIAL classes in recent years, Chryst has to land his share of these kids. I really believe Chryst is committed to this job and in it for the long haul, and trying to build a program the right way. I just hope that’s not lost on this younger generation of recruits…

Comment by pap76 06.10.13 @ 12:47 am

Here’s the deal about The PITT Blather.

When there are actual substantial PITT football issues to discuss it is the best website there is. During “The Doldrums” of May-July it is always is a down period. Thus the only posters who want to spout stuff are the pot-stirrers who post outrageous thoughts and then scream when no one actually agrees with them.

Come summer training camp we’ll have the players to discuss – especially the ones who are new to the program or are in-line to see playing time for the first time in their careers. That is when we can start commenting and speculating with a kernel of hard news as a starting point in a discussion.

As far as Chryst being a loser, bumbling fool, etc… you should note that on the message boards and on here the posters who are stating that are almost always guys who wanted someone else hired rather than Chryst.

I’ve concerns about Chryst as a HC also but I’ll hold off any real negative criticism until there is a actual reason to do so. The fact is he inherited a team with major morale problems, player cliques and bad attitudes.

I’ve been screaming on here that there were very real institutional problems (from the admin through the HC & Staff down to the players and their parents)in the program as far back as the end of the 2009 season and people didn’t want to believe it… well, now we see writ large that not only did they exist but they set the program back as far as any real growth goes. Believe me when I say what the average PITT fan saw and knew about over the ’09 -’11 years was the just tip of the negative iceberg.

On top of that the actual football talent level Chryst had to work with was such that we had 7-5 and 6-6 regular seasons before he got here. Not the best of situations to start with and our 2012 6-7 season wasn’t a shocker at all. Lots of people, including myself, wondered if we could have a winning season and that didn’t happen. The same applies for this upcoming season IMO..

So all this is what Chryst was hired to deal with and those types of change – real honest change that is – doesn’t happen in one season.

This staff will fill out the roster with players they want to have with skill sets they need. That is pretty obvious so far. Just because a few three star local kids go elsewhere is no reason to panic at all. If we don’t see some quality recruits by Nov-Dec then I’ll worry. But until then this is much ado about nothing and is nothing but a topic for people to bitch about in lieu of substance.

Chas does a great job here as is Justin. Chas allows expression of opinion from everyone as long as it isn’t too over the top – but what we are seeing and reading now is the same deal every spring… it’ll get better in August.

Comment by Reed 06.10.13 @ 7:29 am

Reed,

Thanks for adding some sanity to the blather. There have been way too many “chicken little” posts by folks who appear to take anything less than full instant and early gratification on the recruiting front as a sign that the end of the world (or at least their world) is imminent.

Comment by pitt1972 06.10.13 @ 8:24 am

Not said enough but KUDOS to Chas, Justin and Reed. First rate Pitt news and articles even through the ‘downtime’ of the FB and BB off-seasons.

I’m not a ‘full-time’ poster by any means, but I do read daily and will continue to do so because the folks who run the site do a great job.

GO PITT

Comment by pghFred 06.10.13 @ 8:53 am

pghFred – Chas and Justin. I’m a commenter just like everyone else now.

(Although I may sneak in an article or two every so often…)

Comment by Reed 06.10.13 @ 1:39 pm

Reed, I know you’re not actively posting articles any longer, but you’re still on the ‘all-decade’ blog team…….and we’re still in great hands with Chas and Justin.

Comment by pghFred 06.10.13 @ 1:44 pm

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