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March 25, 2016

Pitt Spring Practice #5

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 8:37 am

 

It looks like we may see a true FR step into the starting role at CB given our shortness of talented depth there due to Lafayette Pitts’s graduation.   Of course the first name that springs to mind is Damar Hamlin, the highly rated and coveted DB from Pgh’s Central Catholic will be joining the Panthers in the fall.

DiPaola has this:

Actually, Coach Pat Narduzzi’s defense puts heat on all its cornerbacks, often locking them up in one-on-one confrontations with wide receivers. That might be the reason he recruited three in this year’s freshman class: Central Catholic’s Damar Hamlin, Brashear’s Therran Coleman and Henry Miller of Kissimmee, Fla.

If those players are ready, Narduzzi and Hill are willing to give them the opportunity to win a job. At least, that has been said repeatedly through the first five days of spring drills.

But that may not sit all that well with the kids who have been waiting in the wings for a chance to shine.

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March 24, 2016

Two Bad Years of Recruiting

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:02 am

One of the things that people seem to be debating is when it all started going south. Hindsight is on full blast.

Pointing to that failure to advance past the Villanova in the Elite Eight. Or that Butler game. Those are moments. Losing to Wichita State? Those are games.

Things became problematic when Pitt had back-to-back disastrous recruiting classes. That put Pitt in a hole that Jamie Dixon had been trying to get out of for a while.

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March 23, 2016

Two days ago we talked about ex-WR Elijah Zeise being moved to the Linebacker position. Here is an article and some background on the move:

He looks just like his old man.  I like this switch and it shows that for as much as the fans want new players to come into the program and get playing time right away Narduzzi doesn’t feel that way.  Any coach will play guys like Boyd or Whitehead as true freshman but the reality is that most players usually have to wait their turn until their Sophomore or j* year to become starters.

We fans are high on rsFR Brightwell and McKee and rookie FR Kaezon Pugh, and those kids look to have nice talents, but they’ll be sitting a lot more than playing this season. That said, after this year when we lose who may well be the starting LB lineup of SRs Galambos, Caprara and Bradley those kids, Brightwell and McKee will be rsSOs with two years college experience under their belts and will fleet up to starting some games.

Jerry DiPaola of the Trib has this piece on the subject.

Beset by injuries at the position and in the name of trying to “get the best 11 on the field,” coach Pat Narduzzi on Tuesday texted Zeise, requesting a meeting to talk about a position switch. “Honestly, I thought I might be in trouble for something,” Zeise said.

On the contrary. Narduzzi sees an opportunity for Zeise to replace Nicholas Grigsby at the star (outside) linebacker spot that also requires the skills of a safety. Zeise, who will be a sophomore in the fall, played wide receiver, safety and cornerback at North Allegheny and helped the Tigers win the PIAA Class AAAA championship in 2012.

“He’s a good athlete, and I think we need him on defense,” Narduzzi said. “He’s a guy who can come in and play some very quality reps for us. He has a chance to start.”

Moving Zeise (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) from wide receiver to linebacker makes statements about Pitt’s situation at both positions.

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March 22, 2016

Forget about Jamie Dixon… what about Elijah Zeise moving to LB??

Mike Vukovcan has this in his daily KDKA blog about two recruits saying thanks but no thanks to Pitt:

**Moving to football recruiting, 2 local players decided to go to Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. After visiting the campus this weekend,  Central Catholic’s David Adams and Kurt Hinish both decided to commit to Notre Dame.

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Both players had offers from Pitt but Adams is the real loss.  I’ve said many times that I thought he should’ve been the #1 local target for Pat Narduzzi and his assistants.  Adams is a tough, play-making middle linebacker that could’ve stepped in at Pitt from day one and play.  That’s not going to be the case so it’s “next man up” on the recruiting board.

If you’re a Pitt fan and worried about a lack of recruiting news and local recruits going elsewhere, relax! First of all, it’s March and secondly, Narduzzi and his staff will bring in top end talent.

**A player that I think is a must get for Pitt is Beaver Falls DT Donovan Jeter.  The 4-star player has Pitt high on his list but it would benefit Pitt if they could get a commitment from him soon.

Huh, I just looked at the updated roster for 2016 and noticed that contrary as in the past we now have 20 rsSR and SR players… and all of them are on scholarship. Looks like the Pitt team is growing up after all those players were purged by Chryst over the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Coach Pat Narduzzi Quote Sheet

Opening statement:

“So we got practice number four in, a good practice. A good Tuesday practice, and we got some good meetings in. I think we cleaned up a lot of things from Saturday’s practice. I’m happy with how we’re progressing right now and where we are.”

On moving Elijah Zeise from wide receiver to linebacker:

“He’s a good athlete and I think we need him on defense. He’s a guy that can come in and play quality reps for us and he got a chance to start it today. We want the best 11 players from offense and defense on the field, so we have a chance to try it and we’ll see how it goes. We tried it out in bowl practice and knew he could do it. He actually had three straight tackles in a bowl practice period. He has a nose for the football, you see that on kickoffs and special teams. So we’re going to try it out. I think it’ll go well and you’re going to like it.”

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March 19, 2016

Football Bits & Pieces; 3/19

Filed under: Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 8:47 am

The biggest storyline at Pitt now isn’t spring camp nor the BB loss – it is that the NCAA has granted James Conner another season of play when they approved his “Medical Redshirt” exemption for the 2015 season. What this means folks is not only do we have Conner for this season but also for the 2017 season.

No one has any idea how Conner will do this year with 1) his MCI injury which was sort of lost in the news of Conner’s cancer battle.  Remember that ankle cost him the full year even before his diagnosis of Hodgkin’s-Lymphoma.

It may well have been that even without his other illness Conner may not have bounced back 100% from that MCI.  Now however, I think it is pretty safe to assume that his 2017 season would see him as the post-medical issues James Conner who tore up the field in 2014 for 1769 yards at a 5.9 ypc clip with 26 (!!) TDs.

If he does well this season, and let’s hope so for both his and our program’s sake, he may well declare before the ’17 season – but who knows.  Conner had already said he’d forgo the NFL draft, which he was eligible for just like Boyd, and return for 2016 even before he got hurt.

There are grand days ahead my friends and no wonder RB Chris James took off after the season ended. These NCAA decisions, at least this one, isn’t all that hard to figure out in advance… especially with the emotional and publicity potential involved with the NCAA on this call.

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March 15, 2016

To start the day, here is a taste of last year’s “412 Crew

March 15, 2016

PHOTO GALLERY | QUOTES

PITTSBURGH – Pitt Football held its first spring practice of 2016 on Tuesday with a two-hour session at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.

Day one featured just helmets and shorts as the Panthers implemented their new offense under the direction of Pitt’s freshly minted offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Click here to read post-practice comments from Canada.

The Panthers return four starters to the offensive line, but will be without graduated center Artie Rowell, meaning the Panthers will be testing out new players at center in the upcoming weeks.

Taking snaps at center with the first-string offensive line today was redshirt freshman Alex Bookser. Also in the mix are fellow freshmen Alex Paulina,Tony Pilato and Alex Galiyas.

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March 14, 2016

One More Day Until Football!

Filed under: Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 12:58 pm

I threw this up quickly earlier when I was running out the door. It is a press release from Pitt on the eve of Spring Drills.  Here are some observations I have after reading it:

We moved ex-WR Manny Stocker to QB as depth. That is a bit of a surprise but at 6’2″ and 220 lbs he has the build and was actually recruited at the position by other schools.  Here is what Pitt lists as his HS info:

Starred at Coatesville Area under Coach Matt Ortega…as a senior, passed for nearly 2,000 yards and accounted for 30 touchdowns (20 passing and 10 rushing)…a team captain, he led Coatesville to a 9-3 record and the quarterfinals of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs…invited to participate in the Under Armour Elite Top 25 Quarterback Showcase…rated one of Pennsylvania’s top 40 overall prospects by Rivals.

Huh,  there is a little bit of a backstory to Stocker’s transfer from NC state to UTM to Pitt.

Manny Stocker Sr. told WRAL that his son – who was recruited by former coach Tom O’Brien – didn’t get a fair shot from Doeren and his staff.

“In the beginning, he was told by the new staff that he would be competing for the job,” Stocker, Sr told the television station. “But on the first day of summer camp, he got zero snaps. Coach Doeren wanted to redshirt Manny for him to develop but he didn’t even get many snaps on the scout team.

“We accepted the fact Manny didn’t get the position. But we don’t feel it was a fair process.” Neither Stocker nor his father have indicated where he’ll transfer.

He is a bit of a wandered having been at University of Tennessee at Martin just before Pitt… here is his lone college highlight:

Manny Stocker, a transfer from N.C. State, made a memory of his first play as a Skyhawk quarterback with a 70-yard run down the right sideline for a 63-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.

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March 13, 2016

**** THIS ARTICLE JUMPED OVER CHAS’ BB PIECE – PLEASE READ AND COMMENT ON THAT FIRST****

Not that the basketball season is almost over, we hope not but as in Pitt Football our BB team isn’t a shoo-in for anything, let’s turn our eye toward some pre-spring practice info and discussion starters.

The P-G has a piece on DE Ejuan Price and his buying a condo at a Senior Living center in Boca Raton, FL.  He’s in his 6th year at Pitt and it seems like he’s an old man already… but he plays like a middle aged tornado… with his 11.5 sacks last season.  Here is a good video as he describes his past physical problems.

This kills me though:

But even among those hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent pairs, it only takes a split sec­ond for Price to tell you his fa­vor­ites: His Nike Gal­axy Foam­pos­ite Ones. Put out to a very lim­ited re­lease in 2012, the Gal­axy Foams reg­u­larly fetch up­ward of $2,000 on the sec­ond­ary mar­ket. Money that Price, as a col­lege stu­dent, ob­vi­ously didn’t have.

He stayed on the hunt for a few years be­fore he found a friend with an ex­tra pair who was will­ing to let them go for a more rea­son­able price. “I wore them for about a week straight,” Price said.

Then he reveals this:

Oddly enough, though, when Price is hang­ing around the fa­cil­ity, he’s al­most al­ways in flip-flops. Not any­thing from his vast col­lec­tion of sneak­ers.

“The funny thing is I have all those shoes and I wear these [san­dals] ev­ery day,” he said. “Mainly be­cause my mom will tell you, my shoes hurt my feet. She says I’ve got long toes. Even though I like them so much, my shoes hurt my feet.”

Here is Rivals’ Chris Peaks latest football-related podcast.  It starts out with BB but if you want to skip that then jump to the FB talk  at minute mark 22:50

Some key issues he talks about the open starting positions due to graduation of having left – of course Boyd is mentioed.  Peak also thinks that Narduzzi truly has a blank slate mentality once the previous season has ended.

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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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