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March 23, 2017

Pitt Pro Day Fun

Filed under: Alumni,Draft,Football,Good — Chas @ 7:24 am

Do campus pro days make a difference? Probably not for the players who received and went through the NFL Combine last month. Guys like Nate Peterman, James Conner, Ejuan Price, etc. who had their measurables taken in that setting probably won’t do much to change things. Any changes for them in the draft board will come from private team workouts and evaluations of their game film.

For the next tier, though, it is about getting noticed. Raising an eyebrow. Getting teams to reevaluate them.

Arguably, no one did a better job of making that happen then Ryan Lewis.

Ryan Lewis always knew he was fast, but his form was flawed. He was a high school running back who never played defense until he got to Pitt, where he didn’t crack the starting lineup until his senior season.

But Lewis wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, so he knew Pitt’s Pro Day was his final chance to show scouts, like his father, what he could do.

Ryan ran the 40-yard dash, the ultimate test of speed. Scouts clocked Lewis at 4.35 seconds his first time, then at 4.32.

“It was a surprise for me,” [proud dad and director of pro scouting for the Kansas City Chiefs] Will Lewis said. “I was thinking he’d run in the mid- to low-4.4s. When he was 4.32, everybody looks at their watch and then looks at you.”

All thinking the same thing: Ryan Lewis just made some money.

Thirty NFL teams were represented, including Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, on Wednesday at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side. They came to see Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman, running back James Conner or linemen Adam Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson. They left buzzing about Ryan Lewis.

A Pitt cornerback was probably the last player expected to turn heads, considering that the Panthers finished next-to-last nationally in pass defense. But Lewis comes with pedigree, as the son of then-Seattle Seahawks vice president of football operations; nephew of former Pitt cornerback Tim Lewis, a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1983 and former Steelers defensive coordinator; and cousin of former Panthers Louis Riddick, Ian Riddick and Tristan Roberts.

Man, you want to talk about one of the great Pitt families. They get overlooked. Maybe because they aren’t from Pittsburgh and/or didn’t stay in the area. But I’m not sure you can find a bloodline in Pitt’s history that has covered so many different periods.

Good for Ryan Lewis. At the very least he is going to get a chance somewhere as an undrafted free agent.

James Conner continues to do James Conner things.

But what Nathan Peterman noticed was that even when someone like seldom-used William & Mary receiver Kevin Hart — no, not the comedian, but the Seton-LaSalle High School graduate — lifted alongside Pitt’s NFL hopefuls, there was one voice booming and imploring others to be just as supportive of Hart as they would their own.

Yes, even on Pitt’s annual pro day — an individual activity by nature, as draft prospects work out for NFL teams — James Conner’s presence was felt.

“Guys he just met today, he’s rooting them on, getting our whole team to cheer for them,” Peterman said. “He’s probably one of the favorite guys I’ve played with. Maybe we’ll get another chance one day to play with each other. … I’ve never seen a guy like him.”

Stop being so goddamn perfect that it makes the rest of us look so small and petty.

And from Coach Pat Narduzzi.

Standing outside the circle of NFL people, Narduzzi looked and talked like a proud father. Six of his players –­ Conner, Peterman, offensive linemen Adam Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson, tight end Scott Orndoff and defensive end Ejuan Price — were at the NFL Combine and look like they could get drafted.

Asked what that would mean to his program, Narduzzi was honest.

“It would mean we probably should have won more games this year,” he said.

Said every Pitt fan after (almost) every loss this past season.

“It would be great for the University of Pittsburgh and for this program to have that many guys drafted.

“We just want to keep matching that with winning football games.”

It would definitely help, and yes.





Dambrot is a good pick-up. Got my MBA from Akron, and remember when he was hired, people thought it was solely because he was LeBron’s HS coach. Well, all he has done was win 70% of his games. 19 wins the 1st year, and averaged almost 24 every year thereafter.

Comment by wbb 03.28.17 @ 12:28 pm

PTG, agree. they may have not conspired to hurt children, but they knew one was hurt for sure … and that was enough. To ignore it was unforgivable, especially knowing that the perv worked with children.

Comment by wbb 03.28.17 @ 12:32 pm

They only allowed a sexual predator to continue raping children to protect Paterno’s legacy and to protect the Penn State brand. Whether a jury of Penn State grads or fans fails to convict is inconsequential. Those who knew and allowed the raping to continue will burn in HELL. Justice will be served.

Comment by TX Panther 03.28.17 @ 2:32 pm

Web, I’m envious of Duquesne. I never thought I’d say that. They did what I wanted Pitt to do. They went out and got the best mid-major coach they could find. I was upset when our former Athletic Director hired Keven Stallings and I’m even more upset with he did with four talented seniors. I wanted to see us hire a hungry aggressive guy who wanted to move up.

Comment by Justinian 03.28.17 @ 3:53 pm

Jamie’s TCU Frogs playing GA Tech for NIT Championship. Oh, how things come back to haunt Pitt. Admittedly, the NIT is not the Big Dance, but Jamie sure turned around TCU’s game. I’m a Pitt Alum happy for him because I think Jamie was good for Pitt — even if I’m still have nightmares of a certain Villanova game. I do have to root for my Techoids though.

Comment by MariettaMike 03.29.17 @ 7:01 am

To Chas, not on Twitter but I agree with you and Dokish on Pitt athletics much more than I disagree. And while I hated how Stallings was hired to Pitt, I was more than willing to give him a chance .. and realize that means being patient for another two years or so.

But how can you guys condone his incessant whining about his players, and I see from the PG, it still continues? That is not leadership.

Maybe I’m expecting too much since his predecessor was a class act who would never think of making his players look bad. Kevin Stallings makes a handsome salary and should accept the responsibility commensurate with his position and salary … especially with the shady circumstances of his hiring.

Comment by wbb 03.29.17 @ 7:51 am

Right WBB, what is up with Stallings and his excuses. Shut Up and do your job. No one is going to buy in until you get us back to the Dance.

Comment by gc 03.29.17 @ 8:02 am

Wow, even in attempting to show some accountability Stallings takes the “I’m sorry you feel the way you do” route. He’s sorry that the players couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt, he’s sorry that he didn’t have depth to bench guys, he’s sorry that he didn’t dump the incoming class when he had the chance.

He’s also being disingenuous regarding recruiting ethics preventing him from dumping last year’s class. Clark, Manigault and Kithcart all reportedly (Trib and PG) asked to be released from their scholarships.

Also, Stallings and his supported continue to overlook the fact that he recruited Kithcart while at Vanderbilt “Vanderbilt recruited him really hard. I was there to witness that and was part of that process, but they never offered him,” Staples said. “When other schools swooped in on Justice once they realized how good he he really was, Vandy kind of got put on the back burner. They had an inside track on him earlier, but they backed off.”

More from Trib:

” Stallings was among the first coaches to recruit Kithcart when he was at Vanderbilt. However, Vanderbilt never made an offer, said Virginia Episcopal coach Curtis Staples.

Kithcart selected the Panthers over Providence, Creighton, Memphis and TCU. He also received interest from ACC members Virginia Tech and Clemson.”

Meanwhile at TCU Dixon took four seniors and convinced them that their perennially losing team would be better if they played less. Instead he started a true freshman and a first year transfer. He started a guy who was injured all of last year. He took a big man that liked to play on the perimeter and turned him into a post player and the team’s leading scorer.

Comment by Barvo 03.29.17 @ 8:48 am

Stallings is paid a nice salary to bring out the best in his players. Being negative will not win championships. Going from (near) the top of the ACC to the bottom in one year is on the coach. Sorry but true. Look how GA Tech turned around their program in just one season. I feel sorry for us Panther fold who have to live through poor administrative leadership and decision making. I’m hopeful for a good football season this year and can’t wait to see Pitt play The Yellow Jackets in Bobby Dodd. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by MariettaMike 03.29.17 @ 9:05 am

Barvo – The papers reported that Kithcart was dismissed from the team for conduct detrimental to the team (which apparently had nothing to do with his shooting percentage).

Jamie – Doing a fine job with TCU, as expected, he is a good coach. He is a poor recruiter, however if he hangs onto the assistants/recruiters he picked up at TCU and they continue to produce for him, he should do a fine job elevating their program. I suspect he will get them to where he once had Pitt.

Stallings – Continues to represent the university poorly, this time with his excuse making. If he were a good coach, we’d put up with it, but that combo of poor behavior and poor coaching is a tough pill to swallow.

Comment by 1618mt 03.29.17 @ 10:28 am

The first thing JD did when he arrived at TCU was to hire a topnotch recruiter who was at LSU. I would have to believe that his current staff which includes that assistant and Herrion is better than his staff here the past few years he coached.

JD is no doubt a good coach, there should have never been any doubt. But again, the change was necessary for both him and Pitt. Trouble is that we apparently just screwed up another hiring .

Comment by wbb 03.29.17 @ 11:00 am

Here is the assistant that JD hired from LSU … check out his recent recruiting record

link to gofrogs.com

Comment by wbb 03.29.17 @ 11:03 am

and oh by the way … here is another TCU asst hired by JD
link to gofrogs.com

where were these hires the last few years at Pitt?

Comment by wbb 03.29.17 @ 11:07 am

Kevin Stallings referred the Big East basketball as being boring. It was anything but Boring. Those Pitt-UConn games were electric. Also those teams that Jamie coached had amazing interior passing. Yeah, they didn’t tun up court and shoot, but like to see good passing. I realize at this point, Stalling is our coach. I just wan’t impressed with how he did with offensive talent he had. You would think he would have brought in a JC point guard. Robinson wasn’t much of a scoring threat, but he was a good floor general and he made his foul shots. Pitt had other guys who could put the ball in the hoop.

Comment by Justinian 03.29.17 @ 11:47 am

@1618 – I understand that Kithcart was dismissed.

The point I was trying to make is that Stallings and his acolytes continue to act as if Stallings inherited crap roster with recruits that he otherwise would not have wanted. The fact is that he recruited Kithcart while at Vanderbilt. He also had Jeter on his roster at Vanderbilt. So the truth is that Stallings recruited 2 of the top 7 guys in minutes on Pitt’s roster last season.

Interesting side note to that stat regarding minutes, Cam Johnson actually led Pitt in minutes last season.

Comment by Barvo 03.29.17 @ 12:45 pm

wbb- both assistance’s were good hires. LSU was bad even with all top 50 recruits. No NCAA’s with Simmons & even worse this past year. LSU did fire the head coach this year. Like Gottfried, the LSU head coach wasn’t very good at X & O’s.

In my opinion, the better recruiting assistance was the UNLV hire. TCU’s starting freshmen guard came to TCU when the UNLV coach was fired (after 15/16 year) & Jamie hired the assistance.

Comment by PITT-cocks Fan 03.29.17 @ 5:07 pm

2 of his players were on the team. Hate to see when 5-6 of his players are on the team. This team is a disaster waiting to happen.

Comment by TX Panther 03.29.17 @ 5:58 pm

I don’t accept that we didn’t have the talent on this year’s Pitt team. It was probably one of better shooting Pitt teams that I’ve seen. The offensive talent was there with Artis Young, Jeter, and Johnson. Yes, they didn’t have a point guard. But that’s when you scour the country to find someone. Also much was made about depth. Villanova and other teams have won national titles playing 7 men. After Jamie Dixon made it the NCAA tournament last seaason, I fully expected more from a team with 4 returning seniors.

Comment by Justinian 03.30.17 @ 8:36 am

well, in addition to most of the returning players, KS is also losing assistant coach Ballard … to VCU

Comment by wbb 03.30.17 @ 9:08 am

Justinian – This is no defense or explanation for the team’s under performance under Stallings, but they didn’t have a Center either. No PG and no Center. We also suffered from a lack of quality defenders and a lack of toughness. All of these problems were the product of years of recruiting failures under JD (and I’m a Dixon fan). But again, this does not excuse the team’s performance last year.

Comment by 1618mt 03.30.17 @ 9:51 am

my big complaint is that he is supposed to be this offensive genius … but it seemed when the team weren’t hitting their perimeter shots, they had nothing else to rely on. When they went into their droughts, they had no Plan B. When shots were missed, there often was no Panther around the basket for an offensive rebound … etc.

Comment by wbb 03.30.17 @ 1:57 pm

all those things you mentioned DO excuse the teams performance..how could they not?

Comment by goalie44 03.30.17 @ 2:56 pm

From Post-Gazette:

“Penn State trustee ‘running out of sympathy’ for Sandusky victims”

All I can say is wow!

Comment by PTG 03.30.17 @ 4:50 pm

goalie44 – I presume you are KS’ son, and I am not against your father, but the level of incompetence demonstrated this year, despite the team’s shortcomings, has reached a level not seen in many years. Next year, I will again be rooting for your dad, and the Panthers, I just ask that he moves on if he doesn’t make A LOT of progress (or at least comes up with more creative excuses).

Comment by 1618mt 03.30.17 @ 7:47 pm

PTG – Wow, as in those sanctions really sent a message, eh? Reduce the sanctions, try to erect a Joepa statue, create 409 signs for idiots to stick on the back of their pickups, and “run out of sympathy for victims of the most vile imaginable kind of sin”…

Comment by 1618mt 03.30.17 @ 7:50 pm

So Gary Parrish is essentially calling Pitt dumb asses for lowering Dixon’s buyout so he could leave. There’s no one at Pitt who’s attempting to counteract that depiction of a Power 5 has-been and its has-been coach. That may be an unfair perception but it is real.

Of course Parrish is trolling Pitt as Dixon’s team makes the Final Four – of the NIT.

Comment by Tony77019 03.30.17 @ 8:45 pm

Hats off to Jamie and TCU winning the NIT. I’m sad that GA Tech could not finish with one last win, but Tech has momentum going into next season by playing in the championship game.

Comment by MariettaMike 03.30.17 @ 9:43 pm

All while we are stuck with a 56 year old bum who never won squat in his first 32 years. Good for you Jamie. Glad we have a AD who was hired because she agreed to keep this loser. No real
aD would take this job without being able to can a program
Killer like Rockports.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.30.17 @ 9:59 pm

Arriving late so maybe this made it out there, but check out this little nugget

link to msn.com

What a scumbag. Sure — As long as one gets a little cash, this erases all the torment, tragedy from a child’s brain. Where has this world gone?

Comment by ck 03.31.17 @ 5:59 am

Congrats to Jamie, his team manhandled GT. With TCU really giving him the support he needs looks like he will be back with the elites soon.

Looks like more evidence to support the case that he wasn’t receiving that support at Pitt. No big surprise there.

Agree CK, Al Lord is the kind of scumbag that allowed all those years of child rape to go on unabated. Blame the victim.

Comment by gc 03.31.17 @ 9:49 am

Funny how a “poor recruiter” like Jamie can suddenly recruit guards and centers and freshmen ready to start. He also got the existing TCU players to buy in to his coaching unlike someone we know. Reminds me of “Not my fault Walt”

Even when Jamie was struggling, he never tried to deflect or blame his players.

Comment by gc 03.31.17 @ 9:54 am

JD knew hw could not recruit or play the ACC type of BB. He always had misgivings about Pitt joining the ACC.

We need to have a coach who can do the above to succeed in the ACC.

Comment by Frank MD 03.31.17 @ 10:04 am

He seems to be recruiting and adapting to Big 12 pretty well.

Comment by gc 03.31.17 @ 11:26 am

dixon had no problems hanging around with his buddy steve pederson. if dixon wasn’t getting the support he needed, he would have left long before.

Comment by goalie44 03.31.17 @ 11:39 am

link to espn.com

“ACC will make more than $100 million off schools’ NCAA tourney runs over past 3 years

The Atlantic Coast Conference didn’t have its best run in this year’s NCAA tournament, but North Carolina’s trip to the Final Four, combined with two stellar tournaments in 2015 and 2016, will yield the conference at three-year total of more than $100 million.”

“The ACC, like many conferences, splits the revenue equally. With 15 members, that puts the three-year tournament take for each ACC school at about $6.8 million.”

Comment by NickC 03.31.17 @ 1:58 pm

GC – No offense, but this has been covered many times, JD hired good assistants at TCU to fill his (recruiting) void, and I think just about everyone agreed that with good recruiters on his staff he’ll be successful because he’s a very good coach. That doesn’t make him a good recruiter. I am not sure why he didn’t hire good assistants to fill that void here at Pitt, whether it was a lack of financial support or other factors related to Jamie himself, but the fact is he wasn’t able to recruit while at Pitt, that ship has sailed.

Comment by 1618mt 03.31.17 @ 2:38 pm

Now we need ND to put up for FB or leave. We can get more BB money with UCONN and Temple.

Comment by Frank MD 03.31.17 @ 2:38 pm

Money means nothing when we dont spend it. Obvious a Regional sales Manager makes more than our Eastern Michigan AD.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.31.17 @ 8:54 pm

Exactly UPitt, what good is it if one fails to spend it? Reminds me of the Pirates.. You see what we get. So disappointing. What good does it do to join the ACC if you do not take advantage of its perks?

Comment by ck 03.31.17 @ 10:28 pm

Cam Johnson leaving…

Comment by BigB 04.01.17 @ 12:59 am

1618mt, just semantics, the head coach gets the credit for the players recruited. I think we really are in agreement. The big question is why didn’t he hire better assistants over the last few years. I think the downfall was Brandon Knight. He couldn’t fire him because his jersey hangs in the Pete.

Comment by gc 04.01.17 @ 7:11 am

Pitt basketball….last one left on the roster turn out the lights. Freaking dumpster fire. Unless you are Kentucky, 3 roster players for an ACC school is an embarrassment. Really good thing they brought in “a basketball guy” in Barnes to take basketball to the next level. It took one off season to turn this program into Boston College.

The importance of hiring the right guy. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why universities don’t spend more money on coaches. An extra $1-2MM annually (above market) on top coaching will actually save millions and keep the stream of ticket sales and donations flowing. Barnes opted for the buddy system and look where Pitt ended up. The Peterson Events Center will look great with 2,000 people watching games. Typical Pitt. Time for Lyke to just rip off the band aid and start over with a young energetic coach.

Comment by Dallas Mike 04.01.17 @ 7:12 am

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