November 15, 2013


Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Justin @ 1:40 pm

The football team may have just landed their biggest recruit of the year with RB Chris James. James announced his commitment via twitter a few minutes ago and he’s exactly what this team is missing: a game breaking RB. James is a 3 star back on Rivals, 247, ESPN, and a 4 star on Scout. Here are some highlights from hudl. James chose Pitt over offers from a long list including Tennessee, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, and Michigan State.

James has Day 1 starter type p0tential. The 5’10″ 207 pound from Notre Dame Prep in Niles, Illinois has strength, agility, and speed. There are many recruiting gurus who favored James over pre-injury Shai McKenzie, which should tell you something about his potential. I hate to sound like I’m gushing, but seriously, he is a big time RB that the coaches have very high hopes for.

James was pretty much down to Pitt and Wisconsin and when Wisconsin received a verbal from 3* Caleb Kinlaw recently, James’ decision was easy. Let’s hope the momentum from the Notre Dame win carries over to Saturday and the rest of the season on the field and with recruiting. This class could finish very strong with additions like Jamil Kamara, Alex Bookser, Dravon Henry, and Montae Nicholson.

A 7-5 finish, good bowl game, and a strong close to the recruiting class will bring optimism to everyone but PittCritic.

Just saw this as well. I assume this means McKenzie is out of the question now. This is what happens when you wait too long. This is an awesome pick up. I remember reading a while back that a lot of people felt that we had little to no chance of landing him.

Comment by JJ 11.15.13 @ 1:48 pm

McKenzie is absolutely NOT out as a potential RB. Keep in mind he’ll probably have to redshirt due to his knee injury. Bennett graduates after next season, so that leaves Conner, James, and a bunch of inexperience. Shai could absolutely leapfrog one or both of them, not to mention, Chryst knows how to get 2 or 3 RBs involved.

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 1:54 pm

So we might take 3 RBs in this class? I think that would be a big mistake. We have much bigger holes to fill, much bigger needs, especailly on the defensive front 7.

Comment by JJ 11.15.13 @ 1:56 pm

Don’t forget that Pitt already has a verbal from 3-star Qadree Ollison from out of Buffalo.

Comment by Mailman 11.15.13 @ 1:56 pm

Justin, good info but bad highlights link

Comment by wbb 11.15.13 @ 1:57 pm


When it’s all said and done, this class will probably have 5 DL verbals and 2 LBs. The 2013 class had 6 DL and 1 LB. DL depth is not an issue with 11 verbals the past 2 classes. LB is a legitimate concern, but the 2 deep has 3 freshmen/sophomores on it.

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 1:59 pm

Didn’t see this new post:

Good question. I for one think you can never have enough RB’s. McKenzie with his injury would be more than likely redshirted next year anyway.

Plus as we’ve seen over the years, sometimes these kids come in and are recruited for one position and end up at another position.

And yes it’s too soon on the mind change as well(as far as pulling Mckenzie’s offer).

Comment by EMel 11.15.13 @ 1:55 pm

Comment by EMel 11.15.13 @ 2:00 pm

wbb, fixed the link. thanks!

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 2:02 pm

Regardless our Running Back situation next year will be vastly better, with James & Ollison.

Connor & Bennett might become backups or Connor could be moved to FB or DE/LB.

Comment by EMel 11.15.13 @ 2:03 pm

Also re: LB depth, I bet coaches plan on a few players ending up at LB, such as Ollison, Eli Zeise, Dennis Briggs, etc. LB is a position a lot of players transfer to from DB, RB, and WR and end up pretty good, like Gonzalez or Greg Williams a few years back.

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 2:05 pm

James rushed for 2,089 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior

Anybody seen his senior year stats ??

Comment by EMel 11.15.13 @ 2:09 pm

Don’t how FAST he’s going to be at the next level.

But he’s not small.

link to

Comment by PittofDreams 11.15.13 @ 2:09 pm

5-9 or 10… 212 lbs… as a Senior. He’ll be 220+ once he hits the Towers Cafeteria.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.15.13 @ 2:15 pm

…. and the O and Primanti’s

Comment by wbb 11.15.13 @ 2:18 pm


As a senior in 2013, James rushed for 1,687 yards and 19 touchdowns in 11 games, including eight 100-yard games and four 200-yard games. All of Pitt’s current running backs are underclassmen, but James thinks he’ll have an opportunity to play early in his career.

link to

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 2:19 pm

Smart kid, big arms, fits the mold.

Comment by gc 11.15.13 @ 2:22 pm

Let me preface this question by stating that it isn’t a critical question or one of my never being satisfied. It is a serious question because I don’t really know how recruiting rankings work. (I say this because when I asked a similar question about Chad Voytik a year or two ago, the good Rev. from Columbus jumped ALL over me for asking.)

Why is he a 3-star from all but one site, and such a great pick-up compared to others? I just don’t know how the evaluations are done and what all the stars and things really mean. I have seen people talk down different 4-star recruits for one reason or another while talking up 3-star recruits. I know that it is their skill, not their stars, that matters. Just trying to understand the system and how we are evaluating these players a little better.


Comment by kanyon40 11.15.13 @ 2:25 pm

kanyon, it’s a fair question.

He’s 3* on 3 sites, but on all 3 of those he’s just barely not a 4* player. I tend to look at the combo of stars, offers, and upside. Wisconsin and Tennessee wanted him. He has a top notch skill set. The coaching staff apparently had him graded equally with Shai McKenzie.

When you factor all of those together, he’s a great addition.

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 2:31 pm

To elaborate on Shai:

He most likely needs to redshirt due to his knee. After his redshirt year, Conner will be a junior and Bennett is gone. Ollison and Briggs are quality recruits, but neither are guys that would deter a talent of Shai’s caliber.

If Shai is a top notch RB, his worst case scenario is #3 RB as a RS freshman and sophomore, co-starter/#2 as a junior, the man as a senior.

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 2:33 pm

Thx for the link POD

Seems like a quality kid.

Reminds me a little of Shady. Hopefully he’ll be as good. The common thread is both of them went to a quality private HS.

Comment by EMel 11.15.13 @ 2:47 pm

Thx for the info Justin.

Concur with you, he definitely will have a chance to start as a freshman. Heck Ibrahim was getting carries this year. Nothing against him, but had we had more RB’s he would have been redshirted this year, as he’s very slight.

Comment by EMel 11.15.13 @ 2:52 pm

Thanks for the response, Justin. Excited to see some good recruits, especially at skill positions.

Comment by kanyon40 11.15.13 @ 2:54 pm

“People may ask me why I’m going to Pitt, but obviously they don’t know the program Pitt’s building. The coaches are really doing a great job; they have a lot of young guys and lot of good guys in the class, and I’m really looking forward to the future. I can’t wait to get there.”

Welcome to PITT, Mr. James. Glad to have you !

Comment by EMel 11.15.13 @ 3:06 pm

@Kanyon40, Besides evaluating High School kids from all different areas and levels of competition and backgrounds is a very inaccurate. In short it is nothing more than a guess and in many cases a wild guess. Nobody really knows until they show up at camp and start hitting. There are plenty of 5stars flipping Big Macs for a living.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.15.13 @ 3:33 pm

Mixon didn’t commit to Wisconsin

Comment by DL 11.15.13 @ 3:37 pm

@ kanyon40, legit question, easy answer. If the recruit commits to Pitt then he is a solid 4* with unlimited upside potential, if he is recruited by Pitt but goes elsewhere, the recruit becomes an overrated 3* with lots of overhype. Worst situation is a high level 4* recruit that commits to Pitt but eventually decommits and goes to WVU or some other such evil school, then it’s obvious that the star ratings are totally bogus in the first place and that the recruit in question has many flaws both mentally and physically, plus a poor family situation and most likely is a criminal.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.15.13 @ 3:40 pm

Right now Chis James falls into the 4 star recruit with unlimited potential catagory! Welcome to the Panthers!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.15.13 @ 3:42 pm

Dr Tom, They didn’t give you the fancy diploma for nothing. Brilliant explanation.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.15.13 @ 3:45 pm

On a serious note. The Chris James’ highlights video raises the question, “What is the best way to tackle a quick, shifty fire hydrant that weighs over 200 pounds”? There didn’t appear to be many definitive answers showqn on the highlight video that I watched. We got ourselves a good one guys!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.15.13 @ 3:51 pm

I wish he were here to run a couple draw plays on Saturday.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.15.13 @ 3:54 pm

Nice highlight film. Knows how to hit the holes, very hard to tackle in the open field. Good speed.
Nice going Rudolph.

Comment by gc 11.15.13 @ 4:10 pm

Great news but, I will feel a lot better, when we get that 4* linebacker that is ready to play right now.

Comment by gc 11.15.13 @ 4:13 pm

I want a 4* DE that is fast and can get to the QB. We need some quickness and power off the edge. Think if we had a Sheard on the line with Donald this year.

Comment by JJ 11.15.13 @ 4:17 pm

I for one am very impressed with this recruit.
Congrats to Coach Chryst

As someone said on an earlier post “it’s okay to be happy with Pitt Football”

At least until tomorrow at 3PM!

Comment by Dan 72 11.15.13 @ 4:25 pm

DL: I mixed him up with Caleb Kinlaw, my apologies. Recruiting is not my forte and I mix guys up that aren’t Pitt guys.

Comment by Justin 11.15.13 @ 4:34 pm

Reminds me of Dion Lewis as a freshman with the explosiveness and elusiveness between the tackles…if HCPC develops a reasonably good interior line, it will be really hard to see him until he is 5-6 yds past the line of scrimmage

Comment by Brandon 11.15.13 @ 4:44 pm

@@@@@@ Great news

Welcome Chris James! We need you. Also to Shai we
need you also. The staff likes to play 2 running backs so there
is room for both you.

Let’s beat UNC tomorrow!

Comment by JR 11.15.13 @ 5:01 pm


Come on, I know there’s a couple of you that want to weigh in…….

“ah, he’s really not that good”, “he’s over-rated”, “Wisconsin didn’t really want him”.

Come on, you know you’re out there, you know you want to, go ahead, c’mon……………

Comment by Dan 11.15.13 @ 5:02 pm

James 2013 stats as of 11/1/13:
233 carries for 1,460 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns.

Comment by Rudy moon 11.15.13 @ 5:13 pm

Nice get. There you go Frankcan, we got a tailback to go with our multiple 4-star young linemen! As Emel said, can’t have enough RBs in this offense.

Have the Pittsburgh sports trifecta this weekend: Pens tonight, Pitt tomorrow, Steelers Sunday. I’d love a sweep but will be equally happy to go 1-2 if the one win is the Panthers. H2P!

Comment by Iron Duke 11.15.13 @ 5:22 pm

Duke, In case you didn’t notice we have a hoop team too.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.15.13 @ 5:31 pm

Iron Duke, we are gonna hit the Superfecta.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.15.13 @ 5:37 pm

This easily moves Ibrachim back to D secondary, which if I’m not mistaken is more of where he was recruited (and where we could use more depth)?

Comment by JW 11.15.13 @ 5:41 pm

Spirit, no slight to Hoops, just not going. Although, I could probably swing it schedule-wise. Oh man the wife would KILL me…lol!

Comment by Iron Duke 11.15.13 @ 5:51 pm

Iron Duke, Mine sent me packing many, many trifectas ago. Bless her heart.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.15.13 @ 5:55 pm

Nice get!!! This kid seems to handle himself really well, looks to give the ball to the ref after every TD! Someone should send his highlight to Tomlin and Antonio Brown on how to conduct yourself on the football field after making a big play, act like you’ve been there before! Hopefully the next McCoy,Lewis, or Grahmm

Comment by Steve h 11.15.13 @ 5:59 pm

Justin, you have gotten a lot of answers but no real answer as to how the numbers work out for stars. Every recruiting site has a number they put on how they grade for instance, just using number to show how it works. For example, they assign a five star rating to the top 50 players, a four star rating to their next 100 , and a three star rating to their next 150, etc. that is why the talent is so over looked and mis judged if you look strictly at the stars. Coaching staffs that know what they are doing, get really good 3 star players that become great college players, an example, Johnny Football was a three star out of high school.Andrew Johnson a few years back, a local kid was a five star.

Comment by Budda 11.15.13 @ 6:01 pm

Chris James workout …

link to

Comment by hoopzebra 11.15.13 @ 6:04 pm

You can never have enough running backs. Especially considering we don’t really know what we’ll have at QB next year with regards to Voytik getting his feet wet. A strong running game will hopefully take some pressure off whoever is under center.

Comment by Kenny Powers 11.15.13 @ 6:07 pm


Wow.. You know these kids are athletes, but when you see something like that from a 17 year old….

Comment by BostonsCommon 11.15.13 @ 7:30 pm

@ BostonCommon It is video promoting a training system but his all around athletic ability is outstanding — 4.35 forty; bench 350; 44″ vertical

Comment by hoopzebra 11.15.13 @ 7:45 pm

Ok-prediction time for tomorrow…go

Comment by Schoocher 11.15.13 @ 7:59 pm

well, this is Pitt so the recruiting news isn’t all good.

Satchel Pierce, 7′ from Kiski School picked Marquette over Pitt. Pitt badly needs a center for next year since Uchebo is no guarantee health-wise

Comment by wbb 11.15.13 @ 8:15 pm

Spirit, her loss!

Comment by Iron Duke 11.15.13 @ 8:27 pm

Curley strikes again. wbb

Comment by alcofan 11.15.13 @ 8:39 pm

wbb, you gotta wonder about a kid that would pick Milwaukee and the new Big East, over trips to Tobacco Road and Florida and South Carolina in the winter. Too bad.

He also must not have been impressed that Jamie has 3 centers in the NBA

Comment by gc 11.15.13 @ 8:41 pm

Less than 2000 tickets left on stubhub, looks like we may have a good turn out. Great tickets, cheap prices, great entertainment value.

Second to last chance to see the Great Aaron Donald, Street and Savage live and in person.

Indian summer day, hope people get off the couch and show off their blue and gold.

Comment by gc 11.15.13 @ 8:49 pm

Justin, don’t you think Twitter’s “PittCritc” is Joe D?
I stopped following once I figured that out. But I must say… I do find the Pitt doomsdayers somewhat amusing… Maybe I should start following him again… for the laughs.

Comment by Pitt2Cali 11.15.13 @ 8:59 pm

he is a great pick up now we just need nicholson and bookser and Adonis jennings.

Comment by Frankcan 11.15.13 @ 9:48 pm

Im going to the Syracuse game has anyone been there any ideas about where to eat, aside from Dinosaur BBQ, or thinkgs to do? Going with the fiancee and i think we are staying an hour away to do the fingerlakes wine tour on friday and sunday.

Comment by Dacs 11.15.13 @ 10:02 pm

there are some great restaurants in Ithaca which is on the southeastern part of the finger lakes

Comment by wbb 11.15.13 @ 10:22 pm

If you go back over the nfl first round drafts for the past few years, there will be more scout three stars in the first round, than 4 or 5 stars. This is another in the line of fine young men PaulChryst is bringing to Pitt.

I am comfortable with the verbal and can’t wait until signing day. Pitt is a year away from making big strides. Is the NC investigatin still on-going or has that been washed under the bridge like, organ, state pen, myammi and the like?

Comment by dhuffdaddy 11.15.13 @ 11:26 pm

I think this is another example of how coach Chryst’s recruiting style can work. Not all 3,4,and 5 star kids are primadonna jag off’s. Seems like another very talented kid with a good head on his shoulders that is willing to come in and work for playing time, not expect it to just be given to him. These type of kids are out there and I think that is exactly the type of kid coach Chryst and this staff are looking for. Nice get! Hail to Pitt! Gonna be a beautiful November day tomorrow, let’s get out there and cheer our boys on…

Comment by Pap76 11.16.13 @ 1:25 am

James is a great addition to the roster but let’s not get ahead of ourselves in our projections at RB next season.

Conner is running a 4.7 ypc behind a pretty poor OL. I anticipate that our OL will be better next season and he’ll not only remain the starter but will rack up big yardage.

I wrote this yesterday but Conner is in the same mold as John Clay, a UW running back who Chryst loved and who racked up 3413 yards in his first three seasons in college – he went into the draft after this JR year.

Clay was 6’1″ and 250 and Conner is 6’2″ and 240 coming out of camp. Conner will put on even more muscle over this season and before the 2014 year starts.

This staff absolutely loves James Conner at RB and he’ll stay there. If either Olson or James is good enough as a true FR to play right away it will be either over Bennett or rotating in as ‘RB by committee’ as Chryst did as the OC at Wisconsin.

Comment by Reed 11.16.13 @ 5:30 am

Here’s an excerpt from the Trib’s coverage of the James signing.

Don’t know, but it sounds like Chryst and his Staff may know a little somethin’ when it comes to recruiting afterall.

Pitt worked hard to recruit running back Chris James for its Class of 2014.

“They were relentless,” said James’ grandmother, Audrey Davis, who helped raise him since he was 3 years old. “I’ve never seen anything like it. The mail tumbles out of the mailbox every day.”

Davis said Pitt coaches even sent her a Mother’s Day card.

James, who played at Notre Dame for Boys in Niles, Ill., said he gave Pitt a verbal commitment Friday because of the relationship he built with the coaches.

“They were genuine with me throughout the process,” said James, who chose Pitt over Wisconsin, Michigan State and Tennessee.

The “GENUINE” part has a certain ring to it.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.16.13 @ 9:27 am

Reed, you’re right on with the projections of Pitt’s future in the backfield.

Chryst likes “THREE” backs he can interchange with one being a true power runner. That’s ideal.

And yes, Conner is remindful of Clay. But Conner has a BIGGER upside. Better athlete.

Anxious to see if Conner starts out today where he left off against ND. Most impressive was his decision to start putting his head down and running straight ahead once he reached the second level. Made a BIG difference in his effectiveness.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.16.13 @ 9:34 am

I hear you Reed, but just for fun, I would like to see Conner get a chance at middle linebacker. Perfect size, adequate speed, if he has a nose for the ball. Might be just what the doctor ordered.

Comment by gc 11.16.13 @ 9:35 am

McKenzie will end up at middle backer before Conner.

Just don’t tell Shai that.

McKenzie has the ability to be a GOOD college runningback… but a GREAT college linebacker and a STAR at the next level if he chooses to go that route.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.16.13 @ 9:39 am

Saw the highlights of the Alliquippa game last night. Dravon Henry had himself a game. Hope he decides on Pitt. Need to keep the pipeline open. How bout asking Revis and company to lobby.

I hear his father wants him to go to WVU, wonder what their deal is? Why go to a conference that doesn’t play defense? Come be a home town hero.

Comment by gc 11.16.13 @ 9:43 am

The only negative on James. His coach says he runs a 4.3 something.

Does not look 4.3 in his highlights.

But you’re looking at a kid who’s going to be a very quick 5-10 230 lb tailback who can pick his holes and cut.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.16.13 @ 9:43 am

Gotta get ready to go. See you at Heinz.

Let’s Go Pitt!

Comment by gc 11.16.13 @ 9:46 am

A little worried about all the guys banged up! Hope we don’t have a let down game! Can’t believe this game is not on in the DC area! Gotta watch Boston College! Yuck! Well lets get it done today boys! A game we should win but we know how that goes! Give it to the Hammer!!!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 11.16.13 @ 10:07 am

Tough assignment today. But not impossible.


Comment by PittofDreams 11.16.13 @ 10:30 am

I hung my season on lasts weeks game. We won and I had said I would be satisfied if we beat the Irish. I still could live with a little gravy though. Beat NC- HTP!

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.16.13 @ 10:45 am

Good vision. Good burst. Good moves. Hard nose. Nice get. Well come to Pitt Mr. James. Hats off to the coaching staff.

Now lets go smack up the tar heels.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 11.16.13 @ 11:27 am

Today could be the day we become bowl eligible !!!

Comment by Benzene 11.16.13 @ 11:27 am

okay so previous comment was after watching his junior highlight reel. Just saw senior highlights. WOW.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 11.16.13 @ 11:34 am

anyone know where or how i can stream audio of todaysgame on my smart phone?

Comment by The big a 11.16.13 @ 11:37 am

don’t know … thought it was on ESPN3 but I don’t see it

Comment by wbb 11.16.13 @ 12:08 pm

here’s the video stream….

link to

Should be able to get the audio here:

link to

Comment by Jackagain 11.16.13 @ 12:36 pm

Must have points before the half ends.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 11.16.13 @ 1:45 pm

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