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April 21, 2014

Pitt Adds a Late Local

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 3:00 pm

Curious to say the least, but Pitt has added a new member to the 2014 recruiting class.

Cameron Johnson is a local kid. He goes to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Which is apparently in Coraopolis. He was the Trib player of the year. He’s had a significant growth spurt in the last year.

Johnson started his junior season as a 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard. He now stands 6-6, 185, and can play almost anywhere.

“I expected to grow at least some in high school because my parents are tall and my mom grew late,” said Johnson, whose father is 6-8 and mother is 5-11.

“It’s allowed me to play more positions, that’s for sure. I’ve always stuck to point guard and shooting guard. Now, I can fill in at small forward and power forward. That’s what schools like to see, a guy who is versatile and can play multiple positions.”

He may be up to around 6-7 or 6-8 at this point. His father, Gil Johnson, played at Pitt from 1988-90.

Johnson is not a rated recruit. He has strong academics so he had schools like Rice, Penn and Columbia after him. Late in the recruiting season schools like Stanford, BC and Virginia have been sniffing around him.

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April 16, 2014

It’s not the same, I know.

Tyrone Haughton signed his letter of intent today, to become a member of the Pitt’s 2014 recruiting class. Haughton is a 6-9 C-F who came from the JUCO ranks.

Originally he was a 3-4 star recruit who signed to play with South Carolina. After Darrin Horn was fired and Frank Martin came in, things changed. Martin had a verbal from another big man at K-State. The player switched to South Carolina. Suddenly, the scholarship numbers weren’t right and it seems that South Carolina suddenly had a problem with Haughton’s grades.

Oh, but SC and Martin didn’t want Haughton to completely go away. Just go to prep school for a year and see how things look next year. Haughton said no thanks and went to junior college. Isn’t recruiting just a lovely thing?

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April 14, 2014

It seems assistant basketball coach Barry Rohrssen has been the rumored target to replace Orlando Antigua on John Calipari’s Kentucky bench. Granted it has been a slow week-long rumble, but everyone is presuming it will happen (and thank you KSR comment kids for demonstrating that Kentucky fans have little basketball knowledge outside their own team).

For Rohrssen it is almost a no-brainer. Kentucky is a blue-blood job with huge exposure. No, John Calipari assistants haven’t had the greatest success rates, but they get opportunities. Rohrssen obviously wants another crack at being a head coach. His odds increase being on a staff like Kentucky  This may shock some, but the money may have very little to do with it.

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February 25, 2014

On The Bright Side… Recruiting

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:35 am

Frustrating as the season is going, there is always the hope of the future. Pitt is still recruiting for the 2014 class, despite appearing to be filled. It may be that they don’t know if Detrick Mostella will get his grades in order. It may be that they think someone might leave. But, Pitt is still pursuing Kobie Eubanks with a vengeance.

Eubanks is a high 3- to 4-star guard and teammate of 2015 commit Damon Wilson. He’s going to be waiting to the end of the last recruiting cycle to make his decision, but based on his visit choices Pitt is in the final mix.

The 6-foot-5 Eubanks will trip to Wichita State (March 1), Pittsburgh (March 3), Missouri (March 5), Baylor (TBA) and Minnesota (TBA).

Last Sunday, Eubanks told SNY.tv Pitt was working the hardest. His teammate, Damon Wilson, is committed there already for 2014.

“Kobie Eubanks is as good of 3-point shooter,” longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said. “He has a picture-perfect stroke and shooting remains basketball’s EZ Pass. He can really shoot the ball.”

It’s still a tough group to beat. Frank Haith at Mizzou may be a “meh” coach, but he has been a tremendous recruiter. Same with Scott Drew at Baylor. Minnesota now has Richard Pitino running things, and he does seem to have his dad’s gift in recruiting.

I’d like to think that anyone who can shoot a three with any consistency has moved up in priority this season.

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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.

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February 5, 2014

The Numbers Are Stable

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 12:50 pm

Last year, there was a wide variance on Pitt’s recruiting class in terms of where it ranked against other programs. From 20 to greater than 40.

This year, the consensus is far less spread out. ESPN.com once more has Pitt outside their top-40 (and 9th overall in the ACC). Scout.com says #42. Rivals.com #43 and 247 at #44.

The loss of Wade Freebeck probably dropped Pitt anywhere from 1 to 3 spots in the rankings.

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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 (Rivals.com), PantherDigest (Scout.com) and Panther 247. Along with the Pitt football twitter account and local beat writers Sam Werner and Jerry DiPaola.

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So Much For Drama Free Signing Day

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 12:02 am

Long. Extra long day of work. Put in the extra hours in no small part because the snow that is falling — yet again — will almost certainly cancel school  — yet again — for my kids. So, get the extra stuff done ahead of time so that taking most of Wednesday off is not a hassle. That it would just happen to land on signing day and let me stay home and watch tweets of a confirmations of recruits was just an extra bonus. Not an extra bonus — not being able to post/comment on a last minute flip of a recruit.

Just remember, Pitt. It’s not you, it’s him.

Quarterback Wade Freebeck said choosing Vanderbilt over Pitt wasn’t easy.

“It was very stressful,” he said Tuesday night. “I’m stressed out.”

Freebeck said he chose an opportunity to get a degree from Vanderbilt, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the U.S., more than he passed on Pitt.

Freebeck said Vanderbilt’s “pedigree” — it was 17th in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 university rankings — was the deciding factor.

“Football is football,” said Freebeck, who said he carries a 4.7 grade-point average at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “For me, if I can utilize it to get the best education, that’s what I want to do.”

He said giving Pitt coach Paul Chryst the bad news — after he had committed June 30 — was difficult.

“It was nothing Pitt lacked. They are definitely on the right track,” Freebeck said. “I was disappointed to have to tell him something like that. He was very understanding, a good person.”

I doubt that Chryst will give an answer, but at the presser this afternoon I would really like someone to ask him if Freebeck told him directly when he was at Pitt over this past weekend.

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January 20, 2014

Signing day is still a couple weeks away, but it looks like Pitt is finished with the 2014 class even as the 2015 class recruiting is already underway.

The final two verbals over the weekend were not a huge surprise. Jamal Davis and Hez Trahan were Pitt leans and expected to commit this past weekend on their official visit. And that’s exactly what happened.

Pitt landed a pair of commitments for its 2014 class Saturday, securing verbal pledges from Canton, Ohio, linebacker Jamal Davis and Philadelphia defensive end Hez Trahan.

Davis is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and chose Pitt over offers from Louisville, Indiana and Minnesota, among others.

“Just committed to Pitt!!!” Davis announced on his personal Twitter page.

Davis is the third linebacker in Pitt’s 2014 class, joining Cocoa, Fla., prospect James Floston, Jr., and Fox Chapel senior Quintin Wirginis.

Trahan had scholarship offers from James Madison and Massachusetts. He is the third defensive end in the 2014 class.

Davis is a 3-star recruit by every recruiting site.

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January 6, 2014

In theory, there might be a reason to tell a commit that if he is making the commitment, then he should not still be taking recruiting trips to other schools. This despite the fact that a verbal commitment is non-binding. One of those reasons might be a promise by the coach of the program not to recruit any more players at the same position.  A show of good faith by both sides.

But when you are  a program getting ready to leap from the Big East to the Big Ten. When you are a coach that has seen strained relations with your local recruits and some of the coaches in the area. You might want to be a little more flexible.

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is not that kind of flexible. It has cost him a few de-commits this year with his belief that recruits need to shut down visits even as he keeps recruiting others. Back in November, that cost him Adonis Jennings.

Pitt was the source of the rift then, as Jennings took an unofficial visit to Pitt for the Notre Dame-Pitt game. Pitt was the final beneficiary last night.

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January 5, 2014

The Future is Offense

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 11:18 pm

The build-up on the offensive side of the ball continues apace for Pitt. The latest piece is Adonis Jennings.

The near consensus 4-star recruit from New Jersey (only Scout.com has him at 3-stars) made his decision known in the 3d quarter of the Semper Fi All-Star game.

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January 2, 2014

Pitt’s 2014 recruiting class is done.

The 2015 class has two very good early commits in Damon Wilson and maybe Maverick Rowan (unless he stays in the 2016 classification).

Now Pitt has another commit for 2016. Mustapha Heron just gave a verbal. This is another big get. Heron is already considered one of the top recruits for 2016. He’s already a 4-5 star talentdepending on the site and position. Already 6-4 as a high school sophomore, Heron is listed as a small forward, a shooting guard and point guard.

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December 19, 2013

No Luck With Nicholson

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 3:07 pm

Defensive back Montae Nicholson. A 4-star stud that Pitt really needed for the secondary opted for Michigan State today. If it wasn’t for the loss of Dravon Henry, I probably wouldn’t be too upset. Losing two potential big-time players from your own backyard. At a position you know will need help very soon. That isn’t good.

In Nicholson’s case, there was the extra knife twisting that he mentioned that his final two were Michigan State and Florida State.

I can’t fault a defensive player for choosing Michigan State. They play a hellacious defense and it is a huge emphasis. But it is impossible not to be disappointed.

And along with that disappointment, the urge to cast blame.

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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 Rivals.com. 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 Rivals.com. He is a universal 4-star on 247, Scout.com and ESPN.

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December 14, 2013

Adding a BloodLinebacker

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 9:07 pm

Pitt football got a verbal today.

Pitt landed its 20th verbal commitment of the 2014 high school class Saturday night when Cocoa, Fla., linebacker James Folston, Jr., gave his pledge to coach Paul Chryst and the Panthers, according to multiple reports.

Folston is rated as a two-star prospect on Rivals.com and chose Pitt over offers from Minnesota and South Florida.

Rivals.com and 247 and says 2-star. Scout.com and ESPN don’t have him ranked.

His father was also an underrated recruit. James Folston, Sr. played in the NFL after becoming a standout at Louisiana-Monroe.

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