February 5, 2014

NLI Day 2014

Filed under: Open Thread,Recruiting — Chas @ 6:28 am

Morning everyone. Got some coffee? Good. Did you add something to it other than a dairy product or sweetener? I’m not judging.

As expected the snow in the Cleveland area is closing schools, so I am homebound for at least the morning with the kids. The wife is still deciding whether to drive in to work. Either way, the National Signing Day open thread is ready for business.

The whole thing is so much more twitter driven, that this feels a little archaic, but it serves its purpose.

Pitt’s website goes live with signing day chatter at 8 am.

The key twitter accounts to follow are naturally from PantherLair (, PantherDigest ( and Panther 247. Along with the Pitt football twitter account and local beat writers Sam Werner and Jerry DiPaola.

Come 3pm there will be a presser with Head Coach Paul Chryst where he will no doubt say that signing day was a success and that Pitt is building something special.

Things start soon, so stay warm and hit the refresh button. I’ll be updating with names and when the reports of signings breaks.


Mike Herndon is first (7:08)

Brian O’Neill is next (7:21)

 Connor Hayes is in (7:23)

Dennis Briggs is the first in state and Western PA kid to get his NLI through (7:31)

Qadree Ollison tweeted his own NLI (7:33)

Elijah Zeise makes it official that his father will not cover Pitt football for at least 4 more years (7:36)

Quintin Wirginis has his in, which covers the bottom of the alphabetical list (7:42)

Jaquan Davidson quickly follows (7:43)

Mike Grimm has his done, so there’s some of the big beef (7:45)

Shane Roy has his paperwork in (7:49)

 Jalen Williams has made it through (7:52)

Connor Dintino makes it over half the class with faxed in NLIs in the first hour (7:54)

Rori Blair was already enrolled at Pitt, so there was no NLI today (8:04)

Adam Bertke has signed. Stay safe, young QB. Stay safe (8:06)

Alex Bookser, that other big OL is signed (8:11)

James Folston, Jr. is off the board (8:22)

Jamal Davis is off from school today. He has tweeted that he will fax the NLI tomorrow (8:30)

Chris James made it in, so running back is looking good (8:36)

Phillipie Motley has put his NLI through the fax (8:40)

Sorry, folks. Had to go outside for some quick shoveling.

Avonte Maddox made it (9-ish)

More shoveling…

Adonis Jennings tweeted his signing.

Hez Trahan is in the fax

Patrick Amara was in a while earlier, but I had to page back a bit.

Oh, Jamal Davis did get his LOI in today. That really does wrap things up.

…And that does it for signing day. Yes, Freebeck did sign with Vandy. Chryst presser around 3pm. Basketball game tonight. Still a lot to do.

What’s all the talk about cutting RJ, he is going to be a pretty good receiver. We need the depth.

Comment by gc 02.05.14 @ 11:24 am

I like this recruiting class and I think Pitt got some outstanding athletes, some of who were flying under the radar. Adam Bertke looks very good on film. He is a stong armed QB who can make all the throws, shows good mobility and is 6’6 tall and let his team to 3 Ohio State Championships. Only criticsm is that he has a bit of side-armed delivery, but Bostic said that’s not much of a factor when you’re 6’6″tall. Adonis Jennings looks fabulous and I was also impressed with what I saw of Elisha Zeise. Chris James at running back looks like he can make and early impact and I really liked the Ollison from Buffalo. They signed two stud offensive linemen in Bookser and Grim. I think a couple of years this class will be considered much better than it is now.

Comment by Justinian 02.05.14 @ 11:28 am

Freebeck’s loss benefits, Bertke the most, since that would have been his direct competition, it secondarily puts some pressure on Trey Anderson, because you have to think that Trey must have the best grasp on the playbook being around the QB meetings for the entire Chryst tenure. So Trey should be assumong that he needs to be ready to p[lay if Chad gets injured. Then you have Jones to consider, but I see him as a pure slot reciever this coming year, if he sees the field at all.

Of course the best case situation would be that it all becomes hypothetical after Voytik continues to perform like he did in the second half of the Pizza Bowl and stays healthy behind the monster line that HCPC is assembling.

The biggest issue is actually going to BE that OL. Not in their performance as much as the technical aspects of a QB just shy of six feet tall operating in a backfield behind the stand of redwoods that are blocking for him up front.

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.05.14 @ 11:30 am

Even Jameis Winston redshirted. We should get a couple good maybe great ones next year.

Disagree with Dockish on this, recruiting QB’s has been sound, just bad luck with Chapman and Freebeck.

We will be fine with Voytik and Anderson.

If they go down we have Boyd and Jones to run the wildcat.

Comment by gc 02.05.14 @ 11:30 am

I agree pmdH2P. If I’m a QB I’m looking at PITT OL play. If it improves as many of us believe it will, the QBs will come.

Comment by Pittastic 02.05.14 @ 11:35 am

gc, Dokish’s contention is that with PC’s pedigree, he should be recruiting 4-star QBs .. not 3-stars that are a project. He said the only 4-star QB he went after was his nephew, who to nobody’s surprise stayed home at Sanford.

But then again, Dokish always think Pitt should do better .. and believes they should get all the WPIAL studs every year

Comment by wbb 02.05.14 @ 11:45 am

I wish we could flip someone good on signing day. Looks like we have no one else out there we were pursuing or hoping for.

Comment by JJ 02.05.14 @ 11:49 am

And, I do not mean to imply that Adam Bertke is not going to be great. I am hoping that he ends up as our starter and is fantastic.

This may be like the 2004 NFL Draft. Eli goes as the #1 choice. Philip Rivers as the second QB as the 4th pick. Big Ben as the third QB in the 11th spot. Who would have guessed that the guy from Miami of Ohio would be the best of the three?

Adam, young man, the world awaits you.


Comment by pmdH2P 02.05.14 @ 11:52 am

If Tom Savage gets drafted, that might make it more appealing for a transfer/JUCO QB. Thinking getting drafted could happen to him too.

Comment by dcpinpgh 02.05.14 @ 11:55 am

Recruiting PLUS for this class:
* O.Line
* RB’s (hooray for James)
* WR’s (love Adonis!)

Recruiting NEGATIVES:
* Defense, Defense …no speed
* Losing Freeback

I agree with Dokish. Chapman, Freeback AND not getting Chryst nephew is a NEGATIVE trend@ QB…..gotta do better in the future @ the most important position on the team.

Let’s not kid ourselves. C.Voytik is the only pedigree QB we have for next year & we are TOAST if he gets hurt. We can wish & hope that Anderson develops….but, he really looked out of place 2 years ago. Bertke needs time. Boyd & Jones running the Wildcat would be good for running 5-6 plays a game….(please!)

Not as concerned about “building a fence around WPIAL recruiting territory” ….must get better in Florida and the deep South recruting big time players that have SPEED.


Comment by The TRUTH 02.05.14 @ 11:56 am

Absolutely no way Chryst runs the wildcat.

Is Trey even healthy? I thought Trey has an elbow problem. Did Trey redshirt last year? He didn’t play at all but his bio says nothing about a redshirt. So say Trey is a Senior this year, then after this year you will have Voytik, Bertke and freshman. That’s where losing Freebeck really hurts. Who knows if Bertke can play or not, lots of QB recruits pan out. That’s why you need multiple.

If Russel Wilson could thrown behind the Wiscy line then Voytik should be fine.

gc, Freebeck isn’t bad luck. That’s bad recruiting. Gotta close the deal. Chapman is bad luck though. Would have been nice to have actual competition for the starting job in 2014.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.05.14 @ 11:56 am

I thought Dokish had some good insight & info., however he always has an agenda which obstructs his analysis at some point. Everybody knows this.

RE QB position, I thought Chryst was aggressive getting 2 good (though not 4 star) qbs, and Freebeck’s waffle proves this. It’s obvious why Freebeck would do this, Pitt’s starting qb is only a sophomore next yr, and there’s another incoming freshman to compete with him, whereas Vandy has nothing, so he can walk right in and play. Freebeck is as skinny as a stringbean, so for his sake I hope he redshirts and bulks up a bit.

Really liked Pitt’s recruiting on offense. I thought their obvious weakness was at DE. I sure hope Pitt has some redshirt DE’s with some promise.

Comment by 1618mt 02.05.14 @ 12:03 pm

That’s why it is absolutely imperative that we get a graduate transfer or JUCO QB.

Comment by JJ 02.05.14 @ 12:03 pm

Regardless of Savage getting drafted you have to look at what Chryst did with his last three quarterbacks.

I think Dokish’s expectations are unrealistic at least at this early stage, but I also think that Chryst and Bollinger can do some great things with three-star quarterbacks.

FWIW – Johnny Manziel was a three-star.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 02.05.14 @ 12:04 pm

Couldn’t PC get another guy like Savage in the mix? That seemed to work out pretty well.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 02.05.14 @ 12:12 pm


To Emell: thought I was the only one who remembered
Ronald Jones TD throw vs. Iowa. Hope is coming back. He was a QB in HS.

Beat Miami tonight!!!

Comment by JR 02.05.14 @ 12:16 pm

The wildcat was a joke boys, no sense of humor today?

How is losing Freebeck the day before signing day not bad luck? Bad recruiting, that’s hilarious.
The kid is a solid recruit from July, Franklin leaves and the new guy offers Freebeck what?

Dockish thinks we should get 4 star QB’s at Pitt. How many have we had since Marino?

The TRUTH, you can’t handle the truth, you think he should have got his nephew over Stanford, what are you smoking? Oliver Luck’s dad was the AD at WVU and he went to Stanford. Losing Chapman, Freebeck and the nephew is a trend, again, hilarious.

I said losing Freebeck hurts, it’s a bad break, nothing new at Pitt, that might be a trend. LOL

Comment by gc 02.05.14 @ 12:16 pm

What do WPIAL QBs look like next year?

Comment by Frank 02.05.14 @ 12:18 pm


To Emell: once again we agree Werner leaves alot to be
desired. His assignment tells us how much of a priority
Pitt FB is for the PG. at least we have Jerry Dipaola at the

Comment by JR 02.05.14 @ 12:18 pm

I think Voytik is a gamer. The type of player who rises to the occasion and performs better real game situations than in practice. Chryst has already had success working with smaller mobil quarterbacks, at Wisconsin with Russel Wilson. I think Voytik came into a difficult situation in the Bowl game and showed what he can do. His mobility and moxie are positve things he has going for him. Yes, depth at the quarterback position is an issue, but Chryst had what appeared to be firm commitments from two quarterbacks up until yesterday. That’s way too late to pursue any other options.

Comment by Justinian 02.05.14 @ 12:26 pm

Disappointed that Freebeck didn’t come in, but only in the sense that it would have added to the QB competition.

Personally, I posted back in December that between Pitt’s two QB Commits, Bertke was the “most intriguing.”

That’s obviously not changed.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 12:27 pm

FWIW, Rivals 44th/ 9th in ACC
247 42nd/8th
Scout 41st/7th
pretty consistent

Frank, the only QB I’m aware of is Brett Brumbaugh, 6’3 who led So Fayette to state title. He is currently unrated and won’t be a 4-star, but has been quite productive in high school. His favorite receiver last year was Zach Challingworth, current RS FR, who is supposed to compete for starter next year.

Comment by wbb 02.05.14 @ 12:30 pm

Get over Freebeck. He has a history of changing schools and will probably leave Mandy after not playing.
I am happy for Bertke….but I’m an Ohio guy too!

Comment by sfpitt 02.05.14 @ 12:31 pm

Not upset about losing Freebek after thinking about it. It has to be very difficult to recruit a strong quarterback when he is looking at likely 3 years behind a strong incumbent, Voytik. Dokish is off base. That said depth is a concern. If we can get through this season without a rash of quarterback injuries next year’s recruiting should (hopefully)take care of the depth problem.
Overall I like this as a solid but not great class. What I think the LOIs all coming in early indicates is that these guys really want to be at Pitt. HCPC’s approach of being sure the guys really want to be here appears to be working. Pitt and Freebek are better off with him going to where he thinks he wants to be. When you have a group of people in any organization that want to be there and want to work together toward the same goals and do so, the whole is almost inevitably more than the sum of the parts. Lots of coaches fail on this dynamic. This is a major reason why I feel good at this point about HCPC and the progress of the program. HTP!

Comment by OPFIM 02.05.14 @ 12:37 pm

On another subject, Pitt by 5 tonight according to Vegas. Hope it’s not that close…think it will be a squeaker. Anyone know Miami’s record vs Pitt in BBall?? All I remember is 2 -3 horrible losses to much inferior Miami teams.

Comment by Dan 72 02.05.14 @ 12:40 pm

Thanks wbb

Comment by Frank 02.05.14 @ 12:40 pm

gc, it’s bad recruiting because he was a Pitt recruit and then they let someone come in the last second and steal him away. I don’t see what luck has to do with that. Chryst was in his house over the weekend and he didn’t close the deal.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.05.14 @ 12:41 pm

Based on his performance in the Bowl, Voytik deserves every opportunity to show if he’s REALLY A WINNER. It’s been way too long since we had one of those playing Quarterback.

But even if Voytik gets tabbed “Starter” at the beginning of the season, be prepared to see Trey Anderson vying for playing time before it’s all said and done.

I’ve been consistent in support of Anderson going back to his Freshman year when he was thrown to the wolves by Graham despite being severely limited by tendonitis in his wrist.

When his number is called, I think a lot of people are going to be surprised to see just how well Anderson is outfitted to run the Chryst Offense.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 12:44 pm

Also, Voytik isn’t a strong incumbent and this is coming from a Voytik guy. He’s not a Chryst recruit. Chryst doesn’t like smaller QBs and he tried his hardest to keep him off the field the entire season last year. Heck he even made Russel Wilson win the starting job even though he had a proven record of success at Wiscy.

Pitt fans are amazing, lots of optimism about football with the stellar 40 something ranked class coming in and doom and gloom about the nearly always ranked basketball team.

Comment by Wardapalooza 02.05.14 @ 12:45 pm

sfpitt… you know that’s a GOOD POINT about Freebeck and his history of transferring schools.

His decision to transfer his Senior year to St. Thomas Aquinas certainly left his Coaches and Teammates at his old high school (Western H.S.) in a lurch.

Not exactly a true sign of a LEADER.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 12:51 pm

Just saw on ESPN Pitt #9 class (in ACC).

Comment by Boubabcar Aw 02.05.14 @ 12:54 pm

Ward… How many years has Chryst been here? How about Jamie?

How about Giving Chryst a Chance?

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 12:55 pm

You know there is REAL REASON for optimism heading into next season.

After three years of one QB who was anything but a winner… followed by a year of who was a winner at times but not all times… there is the possibility that one of the QBs on the team could be that WINNER we’ve been waiting for.

So far so good with Voytik.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 1:08 pm

Ward, do you close every deal? The bad luck is that Vandy went after him, and obviously offered him something he thought was better. The bad luck was that it happened at the last minute and too late to recruit anyone else.

I think a bigger concern is (and I agree with Dockish) too many of our defensive guys are “projects”, too slow, too small, etc. We need to do better and get some guys that are closer to can’t miss prospects.

Comment by gc 02.05.14 @ 1:09 pm

gc, there is no such thing as a “can’t miss.” Five Stars miss all the time.

However, if you’re talking Defense… out of this class Ohio Linebacker Jamal Davis is as close to a “can’t miss” as you can expect to recruit… in my humble opinion.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 1:14 pm

BB game tonight on Comcast/ACC network but you must look for it.

Comment by Frank 02.05.14 @ 1:17 pm

Pitt of Dreams, that’s why I qualified it with “closer to”

Comment by gc 02.05.14 @ 1:20 pm

Voytek will be the starter for three years and I have a good feeling about him, seems like a winner and a leader! By that time we will have recruited a bunch more qb’s, not worried about Wade! It’s not like a was a four or five star guy. In fact many questioned the original signing of him anyway! I want guys who want to be at Pitt! Not ones that sign with us and then transfer. Hail to Pitt! Can’t wait to see year three under PC! Big year! You heard it here!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 02.05.14 @ 1:21 pm

Pitt of Dreams – I will be shocked if Anderson ever sees the field, and if he does, I suspect we’re in a lot of trouble. If he does ever get in, I’ll be rooting for him.

2 guys, not including any of the 4 star guys, that impressed me the most on those highlights, for what its worth, were Jamal Davis & Bertke. Maybe Herndon too.

Comment by 1618mt 02.05.14 @ 1:30 pm

Hey, Voytik is 1 and 0… and looked good doing it.

But looking past next year… you got to include Bertke in the mix now being Chryst’s first and only QB recruit.

6-6… Lightening-Quick Release… and THREE STATE TITLES in a row (albeit Ohio’s smallest classification).

To me… that qualifies as “intriguing.”

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 1:31 pm


It’ll be interesting to see how the Spring goes where basically you have only Voytik and Anderson to split snaps.

I think you and others will have a different opinion of Trey after you see him going head to head with Voytik.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 1:37 pm

Don’t look now… Dokish is reporting that Bobby Engram is in the running for WR Coach with the Baltimore Ravens.

What a way to ruin an otherwise pretty good day for Pitt Football.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 1:42 pm

Wonder what former Wisconsin WR might be looking for a coaching job?

ha ha

Comment by PittofDreams 02.05.14 @ 1:45 pm

POD – by coaching job you mean graduate assistantship, right?

Comment by Atlanta Panther 02.05.14 @ 2:42 pm

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