December 19, 2013

Big With Bookser

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:36 am

After watching the quarterback be pounded over the last couple years, there isn’t a Pitt fan with a pulse unaware of the need to significantly improve the offensive line. Steps have been taken over the last couple of years, but 2014 is the first year Pitt has landed two studs for the O-line in the same year. Mike Grimm committed a while ago, and after a long courtship Alex Bookser verbaled to Pitt.

Mt. Lebanon offensive lineman Alex Booker made a verbal commitment to Pitt. It is a good catch for Pitt as Bookser is rated a four-star offensive lineman by Bookser also made official visits to Penn State, Ohio State and Tennessee.

Bookser is 6 feet 6, 295 pounds. He was a Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 selection and was named all-state today.

What’s funny about Bookser is he was recruited as an offensive lineman, but coaches in the WPIAL Class AAAA Southeastern Conference selected him first-team all-conference as a defensive lineman.

Yeah, but he is staying on the O-line. Ohio State was considered the other team he was really considering, so this is a big verbal. Bookser isn’t just a 4-star on He is a universal 4-star on 247, and ESPN.

Bookser should not be penciled in as a starter for next year. I don’t think he will redshirt, but he still needs a chance to develop. From the ESPN scouting report:

Bookser is a prospect with good size and ability. With focus on just offense and the same type of fire given on that side of the ball, he can develop into a very good college offensive lineman. We don’t see an immediate contributor as he needs to develop and polish technique, but he has the tools to grow into a fine starter.

Pass protection, especially, is where he needs to improve.

Given the way the regular season ended. The recent misses on recruiting and other questions that percolate when a fanbase is frustrated, this was a very big verbal for Coach Paul Chryst and the rest of the staff.

And now the focus turns to a couple other players.

Four-stars Montae Nicholson of Gateway and Shai McKenzie of Washington list Pitt among their final choices and will announce their plans Thursday and Friday.

It’s reportedly down to Michigan State and Pitt for Nicholson. As for McKenzie, he’s doing a hat tease. Tweeting three hats: Pitt, VT and GT.


Welcome to Alex Bookster! Really like and respect
your low profile announcement.

Comment by JR 12.19.13 @ 8:42 am

Think it is too early to worry about whether he will redshirt. This decision will depend on the progress and health of the existing OL and Grimm.

Maybe this was planned among them — 4 star commits 3 successive days (probably just dreaming.) If so, plus one the 4-star WRs would be a huge boost.

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 8:46 am

If i read another post about a planned 3 consecutive day commit…

Comment by NOPE 12.19.13 @ 9:03 am

sorry, I wasn’t aware of any … I did read some about the chance/hope of getting all 3 but was not aware of any ‘planned’ event

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 9:05 am

lol, I was partially kidding. All of these psychos on Lair were talking about it..delusional.

Ill be pleasantly surprised if either one commits to Pitt today and tomorrow..esp Shai as the backfield is suddenly loaded.

Comment by NOPE 12.19.13 @ 9:08 am

There may be some psychos on here. :)

Comment by TX Panther 12.19.13 @ 9:09 am

I’m expecting Nicholson to go to Mich St but, of course, hope I’m wrong …. maybe, as a Pitt fan, I’m just programmed for bad outcomes

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 9:11 am

NOPE, I quit reading the posting boards on Pantherlair and PantherDigest some time ago … there are too many people there who claim they ‘know’ something, when in fact, they are merely just hoping like most of us here on the Blather.

I believe that rumor that Pitt was going to announce to its athletes that it was joining the B10 4 or 5 years ago emanated from one of these sites … based on a posting that someone knew someone in the AD office

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 9:19 am

Booker is a huge get. He was reportedly leaning Pitt all along, and had they lost him on the heels of Henry I would have been seriously concerned. We still need defense, really hoping for Nicholson, but felt he was less likely than Henry, so won’t be surprised if Pitt is not it for him.

Comment by Iron Duke 12.19.13 @ 9:34 am

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 9:19 am

good stuff there, cant recall that one.

While Peak does great work, he has a responsibility to keep readers and pageviews, so there is an obvious feel of too much optimism regarding recruiting and the program in general.

..Obviously, privately run blogs such as Blather mostly have a personal opinion, a more realistic view of the program.

On the topic of this thread..I’m impressed with Bookser’s that he had no presser, just quietly verbaled with no fanfare.

My board is 1)Montae 2)Kamara 3)Shai

Comment by NOPE 12.19.13 @ 9:36 am

Nope, back in Feb 09 or 010 (this was a few months before B10 announced Nebraska) … there was a notice sent out to all Pitt athletes that they were to report for a meeting/announcement.

Of course, this turned into being an announcement that Pitt was joining the B10 … according to “someone who knew someone ..” It gained so much momentum that it was reported on national blogs as well as a Chicago paper. EJ Borghetti had to tweet out that there was no truth to this .. but it already had gotten completely out of hand.

I forgot what the actual announcement was .. something internal .. but it just shows what happens when posters ‘know’ something in lieu of hoping for something.

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 9:48 am

Reposted from previous thread:

I don’t know about you, but all I get these days is junk mail anymore, then at 10:17 last night I get a great piece of news from the Mailman! Welcome aboard Alex!

With all the attention that I pay to recruiting, I find it strange that I’m enlightened for the first time that Bookser played both ways in HS, Although he was recruited as an offensive lineman for college.

This is fantastic news! That means that we have five OL recruits in this class too, just like last year. What once was a glaring weakness in the trenches for Pitt, Chryst is methodically building to be a primary asset going forward. Can you imagine an OL in a year or two with the likes of Dorian Johnson, Alex Bookser and Mike Grimm all as starters? And who knows out of the bunch of other good recruits that we now have who turns out to be the next Grimm, May, or Fralic in that bunch. $hit, this is the same team that needed to move an untested defensive lineman over to offense just to have enough warm bodies in the starting OL lineup who could contribute and play.

Fling all the criticisim that you want to at Coach Chryst, but during the last two years he has just been gojng about his business humming the famous Sinatra tune “My Way”.

Not saying that this is going to happen, but in this class both Mike Herndon and now Bookser have HS experience on the defensive side of the ball also. It is not out of the realm of possibility that we could either of these OL recruits moved over to shore up the depth issue on that side of the ball. I especially like that option for Herndon, since he played some LB at his HS and in his Junior highlight video looked dominant in that role. Pretty frickin quick on film for a kid carrying around over 300 lbs.

Now on to Nicholson and McKenzie. Even though I think that Shai might be taking into consideration that with Briggs, Ollison and our most recent RB recruit Chris James all on board in this class, “will there be room for playing time for me”, but if in fact, he is the competitor that I hope he is, he’ll be imagining how many yards that he’s going to be gaining behind the future OL that I’ve described above when he has earned his significant playing time in a year or two. BTW, Shell who? Come on down Shai and join the party!

I’m telling you guys, if we are lucky enough to reel in both Nicholson plus either Jennings/Kamara in this class and we discover that we have a promising QB developing in the group of Voytik, Freebeck or Bertke, then my friends, we are in for some dynamic Pitt offensive fireworks in the not so distant future IMO.

In closing, I sat on Santa’s lap this week during my recent mall visit and I gave him my Christmas wishlist. Montae Nicholson was #1 on it! Old St. Nick turned around and peeked in his sack sitting next to him then turned and whispered in my ear, “it’s in the bag”. Just hope that Chris Kringle wasn’t just BSing to get me out of there!

Hoping for more good recruiting news today. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.19.13 @ 9:53 am

Dr Tom, you left off Bisnowaty on the future starting OL … even though he struggled st times this year, I am not giving on him.

As far as PC’s recruiting, I think the next 2 days are crucial as to how this staff is doing with the WPIAL. One of the musts for any Pitt staff is to get as many local blue chips as possible. If we lose out on Henry, Nicholson and Mckenzie, it doesn’t bode well for local perception.

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 10:01 am

Hope you’re right, Dr. Tom. But that’s the same St. Nick that never brought me my pony. LOL

Comment by dinosaur 71 12.19.13 @ 10:06 am

Really happy about the Bookser commit. Dokish made an excellent point on Twitter last night about Bookser with this comment:

“Sometimes a kid goes to Pitt over Ohio St. but in reality Ohio St. really didn’t try for him. But the Buckeyes really tried hard for Bookser.”

I love seeing Pitt win over a kid who had other offers like Bookser had. Good lord. Ohio State, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida State, Penn State, Michigan State, USC. No other way to say it – this is a big recruiting win for Pitt. Kudos to Haering and Hueber for handling his recruitment and delivering.

I love the way this young core of offensive linemen is setting up. Bisnowaty, Johnson, Officer, Grimm and now Bookser. The only drawback for the short term is that these guys are all still very young, and I think we can look at Dorian Johnson’s struggles this year as evidence of the problems young offensive linemen encounter strictly from a physical maturation standpoint. Simply put, it’s why college coaches seldom like to play linemen that early on in their college careers – an 18 or 19-year old is usually overmatched by a 21 or 22-year old with 4-5 years of weight training in a major college program. That will just take time.

Comment by Stoosh 12.19.13 @ 10:10 am

Agree-local kids between now and bowl game must be top priority

Comment by John 12.19.13 @ 10:11 am

Start by looking in the mirror TX Panther, just kidding, but since I’m one of those Pitt psychos that you speak of myself, as the saying goes, “it takes one to know one”.

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.19.13 @ 10:12 am

This class might not be full of stars, but 5 big offensive lineman coming in next year, along with Bisnowaty and Johnson from this year, shows that PC is making definite progress towards rebuilding the O-line, or is at least making it the priority that it should be.

I think PC will eventually have good, consistent offenses here and is on the right path in that regard. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the defense and special teams, which seem to be on the road to nowhere. I think some coaching and management changes are going to have to be made in those areas after the bowl game. If not, the AD really needs to step in and pull those threads a bit.

Comment by Steve S 12.19.13 @ 10:21 am

Very happy that Bookser is coming. Obviously Chryst’s master plan to put together a monster O-line and strong running game is coming together.

Recruits are buying in to the plan. Great for him and great for Pitt.

Nicholson committing would be a step in the right direction for the defense. Nice to get Folson, but we need more 4 stars on the defensive side of the ball.

Not much mentioned about PSU getting the 4 star D-lineman. I know we were not in the hunt, but that is what we need.

Bisnowaty, Johnson, Grimm and Bookser, super recruiting for the O-line, when we see corresponding results for the D-line, I think we will be back on track.

One or two a year is what it takes.

Comment by gc 12.19.13 @ 10:24 am

Plus Rowell is a soph and Roberts is a frosh

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 10:46 am

Excellent get!! Keep it going!!

@wbb, good point. As for the Blather, I really don’t think we have anyone on here that does that.

I mean, I can’t really ever remember anyone on here saying to all of us “look, I know the guy at Pitt’s bookstore, whose uncle works at The Pete’s bookstore, who sold a book to one of HCPC’s cousins” etc. etc.

Oh, many, many strong opinions, no doubt.

But I don’t remember too much “I’m in the know” bs on here.

Comment by Dan 12.19.13 @ 10:52 am

As I referenced several times over the last couple weeks, gotta have some horses to win.

Bookser and Grimm, horses I was talking about.

Keep on going recruiting staff!!!

P.S. Wouldn’t mind having that running back from Georgia. I know absolutely nothing about him

Just sounds good, to have a running back from Georgia!! LOL

Comment by Dan 12.19.13 @ 10:55 am

Jamal Davis still coming in 1/24 huge need at OLB very good player.

Comment by pd 12.19.13 @ 11:08 am

Great get! Hopefully PITT continues to close strong on the rest of the 4****s.

Interesting article on the Trib talking about how firing Wanny lost PITT a 5***** DE from Bishop McDevitt. Says that HCPC is building a good relationship with the school. He might able to recruit after all, lol.

link to

Comment by VAYinzer 12.19.13 @ 11:12 am

@wbb, Adam is already a known entity. He’s expected to be one of the guys doing the heavy lifting the next couple years while these other guys are developing. By the time he graduates in three seasons, Pitt should not be rebuilding the Offensive line anymore, they should just be RELOADING. Think about this, at that point, when Bisnowaty is finding a spot in the NFL, hopefully, guys like Grimm and Bookser who will be veteran Redshirt Juniors and experienced linemen by then, even if they haven’t secured starter status. These will be the monsters stepping in fulltime i to ethe ball rolling. That is what Chryst is building, that future is realized NOW with these current gets.

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.19.13 @ 11:16 am

Just an off subject hoops comment, Stanford beat #10 UConn last night, so one good thing for Pitt basketball this week…

Comment by Iron Duke 12.19.13 @ 11:24 am

VAYinzer, I would like to say just what if we had a DL that consisted of Donald and Spence these past 2 years … but this is Pitt. What if we had a receiving corp the next few years of Foster and Boyd … ten years ago with Fitzgerald and Breaston … or a front line this year of Adams abd Birch. What’s the use?

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 11:28 am

Great news on Bookser. Keep going on recruits. Do not trust OSU Meyer as other B10 coaches say.

Comment by Frank MD 12.19.13 @ 11:36 am

So for McKenzie it is down between us, VT and GT? Good thing we took care of business against them this season … er, wait…

Comment by 2$Chuck 12.19.13 @ 11:39 am

wbb….agree. You can’t play the what if game but I did like the point in the article that HCPC is working on re-building that relationship with Bishop McDevitt.

I think HCPCs relationship building with the local coaches and schools like that will pay off in the long run and he’s building the team the right way from the line out.


Comment by VAYinzer 12.19.13 @ 11:44 am

VAY, agree .. my point is that Pitt athletics is full of ‘what ifs’ in both BB and FB over the years

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 11:51 am

I am a psycho i think you all know that.

i want nicholson i dont care abought mckenzie he might be damaged goods any way and i am thinking if we get him one of the outher RB might change there mind and go some were else and i dont want that.

bookser will need a year or 2 i read some schools thought he did not improve as much from jr year to sr year as they thought he would still glad we got him.

also we need a 4 star WR i dont care which one

but nicholson is a must we really need him.

Comment by Frankcan 12.19.13 @ 11:53 am

Frankcan .. please submit a post after 2 pm today. Just wnat to be sure you are still with us

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 11:57 am

what time today does the public announcement on Nicholson’s decision happen, Frankcan?

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.19.13 @ 11:57 am

2 pm

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 12:15 pm

Wbb i will

DR Tom 2 pm

Comment by Frankcan 12.19.13 @ 12:15 pm

The hogs make ordinary offenses look great! Bring them on! You win football games in the trenches, it’s been that way forever! Hail to Pitt! And congrats to all the new recruits!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 12.19.13 @ 12:53 pm

Love the recruiting stories,but we have a game in 1 week. Is Bis gonna play and if not why. How about Street.

Comment by alcofan 12.19.13 @ 12:54 pm

Hope Montae chooses Pitt and even more hope he breaks the trend of Gateway grads that have under achieved.

Starting with Bob Buckowski who was great at Pitt but was a major bust for the Oakland Raiders. Justin King had a decent sophomore year but his legend was blown up his junior year, and is he still on the Steelers practice squad. We know all about Shayne Hale, 5 star linebacker, and Dorian Bell 5 star linebacker, and Cam Saddler.

Compared with Penn Hills, Hubie Bryant, Tom Flynn, and Fralic and Woodland Hills, Taylor, Breaston, Polite and others, Gateway guys have not lived up to expectations.

Love to see Nicholson break the trend, especially as a Panther.

Comment by gc 12.19.13 @ 12:56 pm

Alcofan, I’d rather let Bisno rest that bad back, not a good thing for a young tackle. Plus Hollins is a senior, deserves to play, especially after being overlooked. The line seemed to improve with him in there.

Street is another story, he is a major difference maker, a total shame he couldn’t stay healthy this year. We really need him if we are to win.

Comment by gc 12.19.13 @ 1:01 pm

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Psychos?? I don’t see no stinkin’ psychos!!

Comment by Dan 12.19.13 @ 1:07 pm

This team is going to have one hell of an O line in 2 years. Welcome to Pitt Alex!

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 12.19.13 @ 1:08 pm

Forgot Curtis Bray, another great Gateway/Pitt player, think he got hurt and didn’t have much of a Pro career.

Comment by gc 12.19.13 @ 1:37 pm

All two stars and no four stars makes Pitt a 500 team. Keep them four stars coming. I think Pitt is It.

Comment by TX Panther 12.19.13 @ 1:40 pm

Following PITT football for as long as some of us have, clearly will lead to delusions based on past glories.

Is this a psychological disorder?

Dunno……but it’s certainly some sort of disorder.

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 1:45 pm

btw..with Stanford beating UCONN that gave PITT a top 50 win..jumping our RPI to 18, and BPI up to 12

Comment by rhyno527 12.19.13 @ 1:51 pm

Sam Werner is at Gateway…
link to

Comment by KeyboardKev 12.19.13 @ 2:03 pm

Just ask Dan-o haha

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:10 pm

And, according to Werner…it is Michigan State

Comment by KeyboardKev 12.19.13 @ 2:14 pm

Sparty, it is, for Mr. Nicholson.

Comment by Mailman 12.19.13 @ 2:14 pm

Crap double crap. Big Joke

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:15 pm

Looks like Nicholson chose Michigan State. Hope our defense finds a new playmaker now that Donald is graduating.

Comment by Rex 12.19.13 @ 2:16 pm


Comment by VAYinzer 12.19.13 @ 2:17 pm

Seriously would you want to play under MSU’s D-Coordinator or the joke that is Matt House ?

Only us Pitt pyschos would say House !

Which means I’ve have gone completely nuts….yet.

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:17 pm

Says he has a better relationship with the spartan staff. Mr. House, you lost two big fish. That’s a pattern. That’s a problem. You sir need to move on.

Comment by TX Panther 12.19.13 @ 2:17 pm


Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:18 pm

(mic static)

Houston we have a problem

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:20 pm

We have 5 defensive recruits….I think the offense will be in good shape, but when will PC realize he needs to hire a real defensive coordinator.

Matt house had the best defensive player in the country according to everybody and still stunk the place up. Wait till we play teams without AD.

Comment by Jimbo 12.19.13 @ 2:20 pm

House again! If Pederson doesn’t force HCPC to dump him now what more will it take????

Comment by John 12.19.13 @ 2:20 pm

Nobody wants to work for / play for / be around someone who comes off as arrogant, unproven prick.

Better show us something next season Housey. It’s okay to come off as an arrogant prick as long as you are good at what you do.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 2:22 pm

I just read the 2 recruits that matt house was to recruit his main job was henry and nicholson.
what a ass house is the D will stink for sure next year.
well there goes this class down the drain we have not got one great recruit on defence.
you cant live on offence alone.

i guess it is time to get drunk.

house sucks.

Comment by Frankcan 12.19.13 @ 2:26 pm

This bozo doesn’t deserve another season. A real AD would force Chryst to fire him for gross incompetence. And you’re right. Nobody wants to play for arrogant dumbasses.

Comment by TX Panther 12.19.13 @ 2:27 pm

Looking forward, We are still in the running for two WR Kamara & Jennings. Hoping we get one of them. Maybe we get Mckenzie as a RB but not sure we need him. We need help on defense. Looking there I see we are the favorite for a NR DE Trahan. Maybe we make a push for CB A Davis from Gateway and he can convince Nicholson to play together at Pitt. There is also a LB Davis from OH that fills a position of need for us. Also why not look at Bookser as DT if he improves us on that side. I think our offense will be fine if we get good QB play from Voytik. We should be able to pound the ball if we can stop the other team.
We also have a LB J Williams and a S Gordon who are looking at us. We can still finish strong!

Comment by Rex 12.19.13 @ 2:27 pm

Welcome to Pitt fandom …. can’t even be freaking content for 24 hours!

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 2:32 pm

EMel why do i think we have a chance at these players when i know house is the DC i must be crazy
i think i should get drunk now.
chryst is a ass you know why becuse he hired house
that is 2 players who have said they dont like the D staff does chryst need to be hit over the head

Comment by Frankcan 12.19.13 @ 2:33 pm

Even a program with no significant relevance EVER (other than participating in the first college football game ever), that being Rutgers.

Sent a message that they weren’t happy or going to settle on a 6-6 season. Pinstripe Bowl bid or not.

Even Rutgers fired their DC, who happened to be in his first year as DC as well. Except their HC recognized he made a mistake and fired the guy.
Along with their O-Line coach.

So what does this say of the difference today between historical middling or worse Rutgers and PITT ?

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:35 pm

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:36 pm

REX you cant live on offence alone and thoes defence
players you talk abought are not any were as good as henry or nicholson

Comment by Frankcan 12.19.13 @ 2:37 pm

I swear it happens every time……..….as soon as I get the supports and joists back up in position, the damn SKY falls again…………

Comment by pghFred 12.19.13 @ 2:37 pm

Least we don’t have to wait him to fail like most Gateway guys. Not saying I didn’t want him but why not kick Pitt to the curb if they are not in the running. Why-cause no one would have come to his press conference. Still agree with all above, House needs to go.

Comment by cas myzlinski 12.19.13 @ 2:37 pm

lol wbb

Good thing Bookser announced last night. Haering finally got a recruit from his own HS. Good job Chris ! lol

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:38 pm

I dont think House is the problem for recruiting. First he has to prove that he can do more with 2 and at the best 3 star recruits. Then you can land the 4 star guys who have offers for top 10 schools. The reason we get offensive guys is PC and position coaches have been proven or played in the NFL. Thats what these kids want. Its gonna be a while before we can recruit on the Defensive side of the ball. I like House, but hes young and has to prove he can coach guys up.

Comment by Pitt Stadium Section 23 for life 12.19.13 @ 2:38 pm

So much for believing in Santa Claus, that lieing prick!We still get Shai and then we can consider moving Connor to the defensive side of the ball. BTW, now you’re 0 for 2 UPittbaseball. Hope you get a hit with your McKenzie prediction to Pitt.

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.19.13 @ 2:39 pm

Also, be real happy we got Bookser, thats a huge land. He could have gone anywhere. Alabama, FSU, the list goes on and on. So enjoy that one.

Comment by Pitt Stadium Section 23 for life 12.19.13 @ 2:40 pm

Wow just whiffed on the 2 biggest def. targets. The Clairton trio have to step up big time.

Comment by pd 12.19.13 @ 2:43 pm

BTW- lets not forget Steve’s role in Montae’s decision. Kid also wanted to run track at next level. Anybody on here ever run on Pitts track?

Comment by cas myzlinski 12.19.13 @ 2:44 pm

It appears CJ Leggett (RB out of Georgia) is announcing tomorrow, as well. Sounds like the Yellow Jackets are the favorite.

Would sting (no pun intended) if Leggett went to GT, while McKenzie (who is also being recruited by GT) heads to Blacksburg.

Comment by Mailman 12.19.13 @ 2:44 pm

@ Pitt Section 23

Yep like sitting Todd Thomas on the bench for all 3rd down plays. Or the entire game cause he wasn’t included in the genius scheme that allowed Old Dominion to score 24 points.

Cause you know TT is only your 2nd best player on your defense and best LB by a wide margin.

This is what the kid’s mother from Aliquippa was talking about.

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:46 pm

@Dr. Tom: Really?? Move Connor to defense? The kid just proved as a true freshman that he had what it takes to be a solid running back for our program. What about that warrants moving him to D?

Comment by MikePITT 12.19.13 @ 2:48 pm

All these good WPIAL players talk, tweet to each other.

We can’t even get the top Defensive players to come to PITT …..wait……wait

AFTER we have a Defensive player who has just won,

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:49 pm

@ Emel

Yeah, “the kids mother from Aliquippa” good point of reference for judging

Comment by Pitt Stadium Section 23 for life 12.19.13 @ 2:50 pm

Incredulous !

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:51 pm

Pitt’s track is in poor condition, yes, but the program – especially the sprints – are in good hands right now. That would have helped in Montae’s decision. We have very strong 200 and 400 runners right now and have had a good recent track record of getting those events to the NCAA’s. He did not choose MSU over Pitt because of track.

Comment by NickW 12.19.13 @ 2:51 pm

Oh no we suck again! Not surprised with missing on Nicholson. Glad we got Bookser but our D is going to suck big time! Also, dont expect Kamara.

Comment by Shawn 12.19.13 @ 2:51 pm

Emel, there were some tweets on Dokish the other night about WPIAL’s negative perception of House / Pitt’s defense. Warranted or not … as we see, perception is reality

Comment by wbb 12.19.13 @ 2:51 pm

I would move Connor to defense in a second he is not a fast breakaway speed running back is a bruiser can get you 3 yards when you need it

Comment by Upittbaseball 12.19.13 @ 2:52 pm

This stinks but there’s still a chance at the 2 WRs. I like the fact that Bobby Engram and Joe Rudolph (per Panther247) are recruiting Kamara.


Comment by VAYinzer 12.19.13 @ 2:52 pm

That kid’s mother is probably more ‘in the loop’ than anyone on here. lol

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:52 pm

Yep wbb

This is exactly is what’s happening. Word out, on the street, in the hood, whatever is:

You don’t want to play for that putz House, who puts his 2nd best defensive player on the bench in most 3rd downs and benched him an ENTIRE game against a FCS bad team who then made it a game with Pitt for all 4 quarters.

So the reality is there as well. And the Perception is a lot worse.

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 2:56 pm

Remain positive troops. Of the big five that we were all hoping for, we are 1 for 2. Getting either Jennings or Kamara is now our new must gets. If we strike out on the remaining RBs out there, in the grand scheme of things no worries. We were set in the running back department for this year once we scooped up Chris James. However, we still need another homerun hitter at wide receiver besides Boyd. either Jennings or Kamara will nicely fit that bill.

Realistically, getting one more commit out of McKenzie, Kamara or Jennings would still be considered a success.

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.19.13 @ 2:56 pm

Anybody remember Dustin Piccotti? HUGE 245 lb 4.5 second forty time, four or five star RB recruit back in 1997-1998 ish time frame. Walt Harris Era.

I remember going into CJ Barney’s once (not sure if it’s still there on Forbes ave or not, right next to Hemmingways). It was like a Tuesday night. It was me, the bartender, Piccotti (who was a freshman or maybe a Sophmore at the time) and Rob Pettiti – who I think turned out to be a pretty good Tackle for us and may have even played a little in the NFL.

So I struck up a conversation.

All I can remember is Piccotti saying how Walt Harris was the worst head coach he’s ever experienced. “A great teacher,” he said, “but a terrible head coach.”

He didn’t go into details, but you know there is always something brewing.

I guess what I’m getting at is that if recruits families are publicly saying that they aren’t comfortable with the defensive staff, then I have to wonder what the players are saying.

I know what the fans are saying.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 2:59 pm

For the record Piccotti never saw the field – for us or anybody else as far as I know. Concussion issues supposedly.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 2:59 pm

How low we have fallen. Can it get any lower?

Comment by TX Panther 12.19.13 @ 3:00 pm

Mikepitt, yes, James Conner on defense could be a force at DE or even LB. With a full stable of running backs, including the likes of James and McKenzie why waste Conner on offense?

Comment by Dr. Tom 12.19.13 @ 3:03 pm

All the gloom and doom aside, I do agree with the Good Doctor. I think we all knew that we’d land 2 or three of the big-timers. We landed two. One more and I think this class will be in solid shape. I also think the staff has a couple of backup options, three-star guys who maybe can’t step in immediately but could develop into sold safties over time.

We’ll be okay next year. We have Vinopal back (experience and he has improved) and there is a transfer from Wisc whose name I can’t remember that will probably step into a starting role.

That being said, it is kinda fun to bitch…

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 3:04 pm

Michigan State is going to the Rose Bowl.

Can’t blame the kid. Strike two for House.

Doesn’t surprise, Justin King, PSU, Dorian Bell OSU, Montae Nicholson, MSU, they like the Big 10.

Comment by gc 12.19.13 @ 3:04 pm

Good point GC. They also have the #1 defense in country I think. Who wouldn’t want to play for that?

I’ll be honest you can sort of tell the kinds of kids that gravitate towards Pitt and I don’t know too much about Nicholson’s demeanour but I just don’t get the same vibe from him. IDK maybe I’m the crazy one here…

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 3:09 pm

When Dennard won the DB award our fate was sealed. Thank goodness for the Clairton kids.

Comment by Frank MD 12.19.13 @ 3:10 pm

Look we all know House is the very weak link on this coaching staff and we have been saying it since the second he was hired. I just dont see how HCPC can stick with him. The D stunk it up with the best college defensive player in the country and its going to be much worse next year. On top of that we cant get a single high quality defensive recruit to pick Pitt. Its only a matter of time before HCPC must can this guy or lose his job. I said there needed to be some coaching changes and I am sticking by it. H2P!

Comment by Shawn 12.19.13 @ 3:11 pm

Get those Clairton kids into the weight room.

Who gets Hendricks job?

Comment by gc 12.19.13 @ 3:15 pm

I’m no House fan but his stats were nearly identical to Huxtable’s when you adjust for level of competition.

Granted he did have the best defensive player in the country on his squad.

He needs another year, and will probably learn a ton in the offseason. We have too much invested right now. If he stinks it up after this season, I think then it’s time to go fishing for a new DC.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 3:15 pm

*if he stinks it up after this upcoming season

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 3:15 pm

Comment by Atlanta Panther 12.19.13 @ 3:16 pm

You can be a middling 6-6 team with a couple 4 star players in your starting 22.

Cause let’s face it, you can schedule 2-3 rent-a-wins each and every year. Which means you only have to win 3 or 4 conf games to get to 6.

However based on our past history we only had years where we won double digit wins when we had lots of 4 star recruits. See 1976, 1979, 1980, 1981. Even the 2009 team had more than a couple.

So based on our history, trying to coach up 2′s & 3′s isn’t going to get you to double digit wins.

And the jury is still out on whether this coaching staff can coach up 2′s & 3′s. And don’t say Aaron Donald, that kid is special and he was very good 2 years ago at DE on Graham’s team with 11 sacks that year.

So again, PITT history tells us, we need lots more upper end recruits.

Comment by Emel 12.19.13 @ 3:21 pm

I don’t get it. How can you suffer through a football season like Pitt just gave us and come away with the conclusion that the defense was our biggest problem? Our problem areas in order of largest to smallest: (1) Special Teams – flat out horrible with the exception of the Fla St game – bad punts, long returns by them, no returns by us, fooled by fakes, fumbles…(2) Offense – at times powerful, but too often erratic, and sometimes inept. (3) Defense – Too often put in bad positions by our horrible special teams play (bad punts, long returns) and 3 and outs from our erratic offense, and, too often playing it way too safe…just my opinion.

Comment by HbgFrank 12.19.13 @ 5:54 pm

Please stop with the Todd Thomas was our second best defensive player crap! It was obvious that he had NO idea what he was doing. He might have been the second best athlete on the defense but he was completely lost when it came to the game plan. That is why he couldn’t see the field on 3rd downs. Let him roam free and he could make plays, but if he didn’t make the play he hung the rest of the D out to dry. Many of these Mon Valley kids try to get by on athletic talent and don’t want to spend time in the film/weight rooms. Some pan out but that pipeline ship has sailed. Let them go to WVU. Mon Valley work ethic moved out shortly after the mills closed.

Comment by Bigdawg219 12.20.13 @ 1:10 am


You really remember the star ratings for HS players from the late 70s and early 80s? I don’t even remember star ratings having existed in that era.

Dion Lewis was at best a two star who was “coached up” on that 2009 team.

I don’t understand all the hand wringing. Two years ago everybody was crying about the quality of the o-line. Since then Chryst has successfully recruited Bisnowaty, Johnson, Grimm and Bookser. Three four stars and a five star.

We’ll see whether any or all pan out. Then we can talk about the reliability of the star rankings as a predictor of success. I’d imagine the stance will be based on Pitt’s W-L record if they don’t succeed. The judgement will likely be a reflection that Chryst didn’t coach them to their potential. Since Emel doesn’t like Chryst as a coach, Aaron Donald just succeeded in spite of his poor coaching.

There are guys on here all the time writing about how much Pitt needs to recruit a player that the poster has never even seen play. Really?

For example people have bagged on Elijah Zeise on this board. Have you seen him play? He looks like a really good athlete to me. That’s what Pitt needs. Seemingly teachable kids with skill.

Comment by Barvo 12.20.13 @ 6:49 am

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