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February 29, 2016

Possible Roster Moves

Filed under: Coaches,Players,Recruiting,Uncategorized — Reed @ 12:00 pm

Last week Jerry DiPaola of the Tribune Review had an article where Pat Narduzzi was quoted as saying this:

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said Friday he’s leading a different team than he did a year ago, and he’s not just talking about the departure of 10 seniors and at least 10 other players who have left the program since the end of last season.

“It looks like a different football team,” he said, referring to the physical growth of many players. “That doesn’t mean you will win more games, but they do look different … just physically.”

Aside from the fact that we hear that from every coaching staff in their initial time at Pitt what struck me was the fact that 10 players other than the 10 SR and rsSR players we had on the roster have also left the program.

By my unofficial count we have to get rid of seven scholarships at this point in time.  That doesn’t include the five guys listed below who we know have already left the team and who were all scholarship players.

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February 18, 2016

During this off-season time of the year, when there is really nothing of substance to discuss about the football program yet, our thoughts of fancy turn to the direction of Pitt’s stadium… or the ghost of one to be more accurate.

I know, we do this all the time but for some reason, maybe because Pitt fans are giddy with the higher level of interest in the football program due to Narduzzi’s hire and our eight wins last season, the talk has ratched up more so than in the past.

I’ll not go over and rehash every little reason, place, finance issues or feasibility studies (done by ex-students on their websites apparently) that we just talked about on here four days ago but will start off with a bit of a different spin on an “Is Heinz good for Pitt or not?‘ issue.

Cardiac Hill posted a fan poll article entitled “Cardiac Hill Poll: Where should Pitt play the spring game?” and allowed Pitt fans to note only vote but to comment on the subject.

Basically the poll choices were Heinz Field, Highmark Stadium, another HS Field or “other” (maybe the Console Energy Center if we really want to spend some of that ACC money every seems to think we have a surplus of).  DiPaoloa understands that the Pitt admin wants to build up to a bigger spring game attendance, I know that Barnes is throwing out the 10K target in conversations,  but Junker rebuts with his thought that until it truly looks like that could happen then Highmark provides the atmosphere and fun that has always been lacking at Heinz in April.

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February 9, 2016

To get out of the BB negativity here are some items about the football program…

First – here is the UPMC LiveWire 2016 LOI Day Special program – 50 minutes of Pitt fun.  Enjoy!!

In breaking news Pitt wants more asses in those yellow seats.  Not that we haven’t heard that before but AD Barnes has set specific goals and started the process by having the season ticket renewal forms arrive at the season ticket holders’ homes the day after we landed our best recruiting class in eight years… smart move actually.

Athletic director Scott Barnes set the bar high for everyone — coaches, players, the ticket office and fans — when he revealed Monday an ambitious plan to sell a record number of Pitt full-season packages at Heinz Field: 53,775, an increase of more than 16 percent from last year. Two years ago, Pitt sold 40,696.

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February 5, 2016

Time to glance at some of the coverage.

Pitt did very well with the local talent this year. And it was a steady accumulation of local players. Not all from one visit or another. One here. One there. A few days, a week, a month even would pass between verbals. They all kept coming to the same conclusion that the combination of the coaches recruiting them and the local team were where they wanted to be.

The end result being that with only two exceptions, Pitt kept the best local players. That is a huge change, especially since this year and next are among the better years in terms of quality players coming out of the WPIAL ranks.

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February 4, 2016

What a fine finish to a hard fought and victorious recruiting season!  Here is Pitt’s “Signing Day Special” presentation of the 23 young men who just signed on the dotted line to play football for the University of Pittsburgh.  They posted great write ups and videos of each recruit – well done Pitt and thanks for the info.

Before we start digging into the details of the class, here is a great 40 minute video of Pat Narduzzi’s 3:00 pm press conference where he discusses this 2016 recruiting class. Does he look like a happy guy to you?

I agree with the commenters who said that this may be the best overall recruiting class since Dave Wannstedt’s time at Pitt.  Rivals.com has us with 23 recruits who average out to 3.13 stars apiece; five 4*s, 16 3*s and two 2* on the whole.  Not too shabby at all.

The excitement for recruiting is as high as any I can remember it being over the last 15 years, as is the excitement for the program and especially the coaching staff.

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As far as the recruiting rankings go:

Rivals — 30th (5th in ACC)

Scout — 27th (4th in ACC)

ESPN — 31st (5th in ACC)

247 — 26th, though 30th in their composite rankings (4th in ACC)

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February 2, 2016

Well, it was certainly a big day for Pitt football and HC Pat Narduzzi yesterday.  Both local recruits 4* DB Damar Hamlin (Central Catholic) and WR Aaron Mathews 3* (Clairton) made verbal commitments to play for us.  This is what the staff, the fans and the other present and future local recruits have been waiting for.  Hamlin is the Great White of this year’s crop of WPA players and Narduzzi reeled him in.

Both kids are truly filling positions of need – Hamlin certainly with the graduation of CB Lafayette Pitts and that may happen as quickly as this season, and Mathews helping to ease the pain of 4* Juwann Winfree departure from Pitt to Colorado U.  Mathews won’t be seeing much playing time as a true FR but he’ll help out down the road.

So, Because of this good news and because you guys need your Pitt fixes while at work here, is a compendium of snapshots of media articles to get you through your day.

First off, here is the P-G’s take on Winfree bolting this recruiting class.

Without Winfree, Pitt is left with four-star prospect Ruben Flowers and three-star Maurice Ffrench (who could play defense) as its only receiver commitments for 2016. That’s a position of need for the Panthers heading into next year without Tyler Boyd, who opted to leave after his junior season to enter the NFL Draft.

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February 1, 2016

The Pat Piper Gets Hamlin

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 6:54 pm

Work with me here, I am desperately trying to avoid the cliched headlines for a big recruiting win.

Roughly 36 hours until signing day kicks off and Pitt received the big verbal to top off this recruiting class.

Unless you do everything to avoid recruiting, then you already know that Damar Hamlin a top recruit in Pennsylvania and a consensus 4-star cornerback was making his choice tonight.

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January 29, 2016

With less less than five days until LOI Day, Feb 3rd, and when we’ll have the final listing of our 2016 recruiting class I thought we could take a step back and hear some stories about Pitt’s recruiting in years past.

Take a minute and listen to these two pieces.  I ran across them the other day and waited until we were sick of Pitt basketball to post them.

First we have how recruiting has changed over the last 35 years or so and then we’ll follow up with a piece on how James Conner was flying under the radar until Pitt figured things out.

Varsity Xtra; Recruiting Different as Night and Day. By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jan 28, 2011.  Exactly five years and one day ago today we read this:

Here is a piece written about our great RB James Conner.  This was published by Bleacher report back on July 19, 2015 before Conner’s injury in our first game and of course before his diagnosis and subsquent, and ongoing, battle against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

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January 25, 2016

Digging a bit into my Kinks library for that one.

Last night Amir Watts a 3- or 4-star DT/DE from Chicago tweeted out that he was done with recruiting.

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January 24, 2016

Pitt got a nice commit to improve depth long-term at the linebacker spot. Elias Reynolds verbaled to Pitt last night as expected. The ILB had been committed to Rutgers, but reopened following the turmoil in Piscataway. He’s the third flip from Rutgers to Pitt.

He’s not a high-star recruit, but he has potential. After decommitting from Rutgers, the Brooklyn, NY native had offers from Cuse, Wake Forest, Maryland and Illinois. He narrowed it down to Pitt and the Illini.

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January 20, 2016

 It is getting close to crunch time.

The all-important recruiting Letter of Intent Day (LOI Day) is fast approaching; February 3rd is the date this year with April 1st as the last day the National Letter of Intent (NLI) can be signed for players to qualify for the 2016 recruiting class and football season.

Pitt is pushing hard for verbals from Central Catholic’s 4* Safety Damar Hamlin, a and Khaleke Hudson a 3* Athlete from McKeesport.  Both are local guys who Narduzzi very much wants to land for several reason, not the least of which is that they are local kids and both are being recruited by Penn State and other top name programs like OSU and Michigan and have many other prime offers.  If Narduzzi lands these two guys other recruits will sit up and take notice for their future choices.

On the other side of this is the angst we have about kids who are already committed to Pitt being actively recruited by other programs up to and sometimes including LOI Day. Such as highly sought after 3* Henry Miller of Kissimmee, FL. He’s a CB who will serve us well in two ways: first he’s a good play and we need CBs but secondly, he’s a Florida recruit and if you want your program to grow into a solid winning one those Florida kids with their speed are good ones to land.

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January 18, 2016

FB Bits & Pieces – 1.18.16

Filed under: Football,Media,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 11:12 am

Huh, maybe those continuing phone calls from other schools to Tom Macvitte are getting answered.  Mike Vukovcan of KDKA reports this:

“**Source tells me that Pat Narduzzi and OC Matt Canada have an in home visit tonight with QB Thomas MacVittie. I think it’s becoming quite clear that MacVittie is a HUGE priority in this recruiting class.

**The offer yesterday to 2017 QB Matt McKay (Raleigh, NC) is an interesting one. McKay is the ultimate dual-threat quarterback as evidenced by his 46 combined touchdowns this past season.

Here are the HUDL highlights of McKay’s JR season in HS.  You can skip the ad after a few seconds.

Vukovcan is full of interesting stuff, here is a bit of speculation on his part:

**Here’s a name to keep your eye on: Derrick Green. He’s a former 5-star running back for Michigan. However, he’s graduating this spring and announced he’s going to be a graduate transfer.

I received a message from Green last night and he told me that he’s interested in looking at Pitt and making a visit. I’m hoping to do an in-depth interview with Green later today.

Green played sparingly last season for first year coach Jim Harbaugh. In 9 games this season, Green rushed for 158 yards on 47 carries and scored 2 touchdowns. For his career, Green has totaled 898 yards on 212 carries and 7 touchdowns.

At 5’11 and 240 pounds he’s be the hammer in the backfield… maybe we bring back the Fullback a bit more?

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January 7, 2016

As Chas wrote earlier Chad Voytik has made up his mind and left Pitt’s football program. He came aboard in 2012 and is leaving almost four years later to seek greener fields… or to get out of an increasingly uncomfortable atmosphere here at Pitt.  It isn’t surprising to me, but it is a bit disappointing, that Chad didn’t stay to try and rise to the occasion to regain his starting position. I thought he had more fight in him, especially after Chaney left.

It was obvious by the quotes he has issued lately that he thought he was behind the eight ball during 2015 but unless he felt Narduzzi didn’t want him as a starter he would have had the opportunity to regain that starting job.  It became apparent that he thought Peterman won the job and played well enough to keep the position,  but it is ironic if he did think so because the exact thing happened with him after his starting year.

Voytik said he felt like he was given a fair chance this season by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who had a prior connection with Peterman after recruiting him to Tennessee in 2012. “I feel like I was given a fair shot, but at times, things might’ve been a little unfair,” said Voytik, who declined to elaborate. “I just think it was the perfect storm of events that worked against me a little bit. That’s life, though.”

If that was indeed a ‘perfect storm’ it is one he had a major hand in brewing.  If Peterman could unseat the incumbent in ’15 why couldn’t Chad do the same for his senior year?  He must not have thought he could do so.  Now he’s apparently looking to move closer to home but the lingering and unspoken feeling is that he didn’t complete what he started out to do at Pitt.

In a more selfish view as a Pitt fan I wanted him to be our competent and experienced relief QB if he didn’t win the back starting job outright and I did believe that could happen. Peterman played like gangbusters in the first seven games of the season but when all the dust settled I truly don’t believe he played so well as to make him untouchable, especially with a new HC coming onboard.

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January 4, 2016

Chad Voytik Is Moving On

Filed under: Football,Players,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 8:21 pm

I can’t blame him for deciding to transfer after he gets his degree in the spring.

“Chad has been a tremendous leader and teammate during his Pitt career, and certainly during the year I had the opportunity to coach him,” Narduzzi said. “We wish him the very best and will help him any way we can as he maps out his future pursuits. We will always consider him a Pitt Man. His contributions have been invaluable to what we are building here.”

“I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend and play for the University of Pittsburgh,” Voytik said. “I am blessed to have met some amazing people along the way: teammates that I’ll always be friends with, coaches that made me a better player and person, and fans that offered a tremendous amount of support. Pittsburgh will always be my second home.”

I wish him nothing but the best.

Let me start by repeating something I am know I have said on Twitter, and I’m pretty sure I have said on this site. It is not conflicting or inconsistent to think:

A. Nate Peterman was the better option at QB in the offense Pitt ran this past season.

B. Chad Voytik was not given a fair chance to keep the starting QB job.

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