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February 21, 2014

Recruiting Goes Early

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:25 am

One (and everyone has their personal favorite) of the reasons for angst over Head Coach Paul Chryst’s recruiting strategy has been the slow start to recruiting. Early verbals were few and far between. While other schools were pulling those early commits, Pitt was waiting. Appearing to get left in the dust.

Not this year. It’s not yet March, but Pitt has 3 verbals for the 2015 class. Offensive lineman Alex Paulina kicked things off in January. They added a TE at the end of January and now a linebacker.

The theme with them all is that they are Western Pennsylvania recruits. Three of the top-ten recruits in Westertn PA based on one ranking. If you care to make overarching declarations then it could be seen that the coaching stability and Coach Chryst’s approach to recruiting is starting to bear earlier fruit. At least locally as the players and coaches in the area have come to know and be familiar with him.

We know Chryst isn’t going to come out and try and glitz, glam and dazzle recruits. He’s not going to push. He is going to be himself and let the players and their families make the decision. At this point, though, he has been establishing real relations with the local coaches and players that will be seniors this fall. Now they are much more comfortable with what he is doing and there seems to be a lot more desire to play for him and Pitt.

At least at a local level.

The newest verbal is Kevin Givens out of Altoona.

Altoona coach John Franco said Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan and Michigan State also have shown interest, but he added the Nittany Lions didn’t want to offer a scholarship until Givens met coach James Franklin. His scheduled visit to Penn State was postponed last weekend by inclement weather.

Givens, rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, had offers from Pitt, Boston College, Temple and UMass.

“The (Pitt) coaching staff has been great to him,” Franco said. “He related to them very well.”

Franco labeled Givens, 16, as a “project.”

“He doesn’t get it yet, but when he gets it, look out,” he said. “He has a great frame (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) and can easily put on 30 pounds. He is a great worker in the weight room.”

Givens can play defensive end or outside linebacker, Franco said.

Givens envisions himself at outside linebacker in Pitt’s defense.

“They use their linebackers rushing from the outside,” Givens said, “and that’s where I feel I play best. They showed me schemes and film, and I felt I’d fit in perfectly.”

“I just need to learn technique to become a complete overall player,” Givens said. “I feel all of my coaches, recent and past, have helped develop me into the player I am.

“They [the Pitt coaches] told me just to keep on working hard. They can help get me where I want to go. The sky’s the limit for me.”

The Panther coaches aren’t the only ones that feel that way. Western Pennsylvania talent evaluator and seven-on-seven travel team organizer Ayo Fapohunda felt Givens was being very under-recruited and mentioned him in the same breath with former Penn State star LaVar Arrington.

“After watching his highlight tape from his junior year, not only are we ready to crown him top LB in the state, but also believe he may be one of the most intriguing prospects in the country,” Fapohunda wrote in his Preps.com blog a month ago. “With offers only from Pitt and Temple, don’t be surprised to start seeing Givens receiving some major D1 attention from the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, and of course nearby Penn State once staffs refocus on class of 2015. With the size, speed, and strength that all coaches are looking for, Givens has to be one of the better looking linebacker prospects we’ve seen in this area in years.”

At this point Givens is a consensus 3-star recruit. If he is as promising as indicated, there will be other schools coming at him. It is nice, though, for this staff to land a very promising player on the defensive side so early.

The other early verbal was tight end Nick Bowers from Kittanning.

He was selected as the Leader Times Player of the Year in 2013, shortly after receiving his first college scholarship offer from Pitt in December when he visited during one of the Panthers’ bowl game practices.

Kittanning coach Frank Fabian said he believes Bowers will remain committed to Pitt throughout his senior season.

“He’s a quiet kid. He’s never going to be the type to go on TV with a bunch of hats in front of him when he makes his decision,” Fabian said. “I think it’s important for him to stay close to home and play in front (of his family). Plus, the way coach (Paul) Chryst uses his tight ends (fits Bowers). You put all those pieces together and it seems like a no-brainer to him.”

Fabian said Bowers played last season at 220 pounds and added 15 during off-season workouts.

“He’s looking like a different kid. He’s always worked hard, but this is the first year he’s really hit the weight room,” Fabian said.

During the past season, Bowers was named Class AA Allegheny Conference offensive player of the year and first-team all-conference as a wide receiver and inside linebacker. Kittanning (9-1) won its first conference championship since 1976.

His star rating is 3-star from a couple sites and unrated/unevaluated at this time from a couple others. Rivals.com does list him as the #12 TE nationally (and the best in Pennsylvania).

In the signing day presser, Coach Chryst conceded that the QB situation was a “little light” in terms of depth. At the same time he denied that there was any goal of pursuing someone from the JUCO ranks or pursue a graduate transfer.

That seemed a bit on the open-ended side. Especially since the question was centered around bringing someone in by spring practices. No plan in place, but if it so happened that a graduate transfer QB wanted to look, well there’s no way he would be at Pitt in the spring practices.

Sure enough, a week after signing day, former USC QB Max Wittek  had Pitt on his list of schools to check. That said, Texas looks like the school to beat for his services.





Sorry guys as well. Having some issues at rhe homestead. I will not take it out on my blatherites. Marietta – no problem. Still a few months out but man is politics slowing that job down. Script – safe travels for work and I agree burg is awesome in summer.

Comment by Upittbaseball 02.23.14 @ 4:24 pm

Heading to the Pete. It’s time to open up a can of whoop-ass. Apologies to the academicians.

Comment by gc 02.23.14 @ 4:25 pm

Look i lived in the Burgh for 35 years in VA, for 2 in AZ 18 and Bama for 2 and came back to western pa years and years ago. and that and one dollar will bye me a cup of tea so lets get back to football talk.
did savage throw good to day how was his foot work
was he on target i missed it info please.

Comment by Frankcan 02.23.14 @ 4:27 pm

Seriously all the pessimism about the state of Pitt Football.

Since when was Pitt so GREAT… outside of the OLD, OLD DAYS and the time span running between Dorsett and Marino years?

Without naming names, those who “PINE” for the Days of Yore are fantasizing about a PITT FOOTBALL POWERHOUSE that NEVER EXISTED.

Even in the Marino Years, with one of the BEST QUARTERBACKS and TEAMS you could hope for… they never got the job done. The DISAPPOINTMENT matches the DESPAIR of the 80s and 90s.

Chryst has begun piecing together a system that he envisions will position Pitt as a PERENNIAL Top 25 Program that makes a run at Top 10 every four years or so.

If it happens, it’ll be the first time.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.23.14 @ 4:33 pm

Now if Dixon could only get the “Top 10” Part down.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.23.14 @ 4:36 pm

Sorry PofD, those days did exist, abet many many years ago. The coach was Sutherland and the team was unbeatable. That’s not dreaming, that’s just history.

Comment by Dr. Tom 02.23.14 @ 4:57 pm

You guys still at it!

Wbb, give it up! You made your points and I totally disagree. (Notice no personal insults.)

TX Panther, besides speaking the truth, you also write well; good points – clearly stated.

Pitt Dad, looks like you did recruiting for Pitt out on the Island. Good for you and the University. In my part of NJ, the kids considering Pitt are the ones intersted in the writing program or offered scholarships. The vast majority do not consider Pitt at all. The average kid around here even has Rutgers low on their list (our State U); which is a 50’s school. That’s about where Pitt fits right now, around 58 nationally.

I realize ratings are all over the place and really don’t mean much unless your school is rated in the top 10!

I went to Pitt when it was private. The money came for the Mellons and the other main Pittsburgh industrialist(all graduates). The University was rated in the 40’s. The medical school was rated in the top ten (remember Salk). Litchfield promised to have Pitt an Ivy league school in ten years. There were beautiful drawings of new campus additions in Panther Howl. Our football team was #3 in the nation. We played only other nationally known teams; UCLA, Wash, ND, Miami, PSU, Cal, Syracuse and etc. every year.

Then the school went belly up!

We play basketball now.

Got to check my 23 and me results

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 02.23.14 @ 5:20 pm

DONALD pushed up thru up 225 pounds 35 times to day he is second so far the NFL has got to love him

Comment by Frankcan 02.23.14 @ 5:23 pm

Forgot to mention in the 60’s, two of my fraternity brothers flunked out of Pitt ended up at PSU and graduated. Another after flunking out went Westminster and later became a Pitt dentist.

I think we were a better academic school back then.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 02.23.14 @ 5:27 pm

I am upitt. I am with Skanska. Who are you with? We came in second I think on Falcons. I’m not in our sports group. I run our national healthcare.

Comment by Pitt it Is 02.23.14 @ 8:24 pm

Dr. Tom…

No need to apologize.

I think “OLD, OLD DAYS” pretty much covers the Sutherland years 1924 – 1939.

Those teams posted some good records. Although at the time it was mainly SPOILED RICH KIDS who got the chance to go to college. The TOUGH BLUE-COLORED GUYS would come along later.

But as good as they were, the Sutherland Teams were BEATABLE or at least TIE-ABLE.

Sutherland NEVER had a PERFECT SEASON at PITT. 9-0-1 was his Best. There was the ONE ROSE BOWL Win, but also THREE ROSE BOWL Losses.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.24.14 @ 12:10 pm

Still, I would consider the Sutherland Years as qualifying as Pitt Glory Days.

Not quite on par with with Woody Hayes and Ohio State. But I am open minded.

Comment by PittofDreams 02.24.14 @ 12:14 pm

Is PSU still under scholarship restrictions? How many can they offer for 2015? I hated seeing Bucholtz and Cooper go to them.

Comment by Rex 02.24.14 @ 3:55 pm

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