Recruiting Tidbits, etc…

Pittsburgh Sports Now has an article on who they (Mike Vukovcan) thinks will be Pitt young impact players this upcoming season.  He lists some obvious names: DB Hamlin, WRs Flowers, Ffrench and Henderson, DL Camp, etc… and then asks us if he missed anyone.

Since speculation is what we do as Pitt fans and on blogs – and that’s what it is regardless of how any writers try to convince us otherwise – I’ll chip in.

Here is the Rivals listing of Pitt’s 2016 recruiting class.  We fans are excited because it is the highest nationally rated class we have had, at # 32, since the Wannstedt days, as we should be.  it looks like a good one top to bottom and when you start looking past the obvious ratings of start you see that the offer lists of these recruits is what the difference between this class and our more recent classes is.

Take for instance OLB Elias Reynolds who at 2*s and 5.3 rating points is the lowest rated recruit in the class. He also wasn’t ranked nationally in any category – a “NR” across the board.  But here is what makes me think he can be a diamond in the rough – he was ranked 7th as a senior in the state of New York.

Looking at Reynolds recruiting offer sheet we see that he had been pursued by Syracuse, Rutgers, Illinois, and Wake Forest… among lesser schools also.  So another Power 5 NY school, Syracuse, wanted him and they must have know he was ranked in the Top 10 of their state – yet he came to Pitt to play for Narduzzi.

Reynold’s four Power 5 conference schools’ offers shine as opposed to all the 2* and some 3* Chryst recruits who had their sheets filled with MAC level colleges (if even that sometimes). That is a huge difference in perceived quality and one that makes me feel like this staff is able to target kids who have been overlooked by the bigger programs.

So, underdog lover that I am I look at the class listing and see a couple kids who may be better producers on the field than they look like on paper.

I like DT Rashad Wheeler out of Oakland’s Central Catholic. He’s a 3* recruit but his offer sheet is better than some 4* kids I’ve seen with PSU, Tenn, WVU and 12 other Power 5 schools chasing him.

.At 6’3″ and 270# (remember these vital stats are measured at the beginning of the players’ SR in HS) he’s got the right size to either bulk up and stay inside or work on his speed and maybe slide out to DE.  Either way he’s in a position of need and could see playing time sooner rather than later.

I know everyone is high on Keyshon Camp and he looks good also but Wheeler looks a bit like a sleeper to me.  we also know that the level of HS competition Wheeler played agaisn while on the Central team is very tough so that’s in his favor also.

Another kid who has stayed under the fan and media radar is DE Patrick Jones out of Chesapeake Virginia. He’s got those Power 5 offers also but it is his ‘unmeasurables’ that intrigue – like this show of emotion we may see out of him below.

A 2* recruit with a baby face he doesn’t look like the type of player who would throw an opponent down behind the LOI and bite the jugular right out of the young punk RB’s neck then parade it hanging out of his mouth in front of the other team’s bench…but he could be just that guy.  As long as he doesn’t throw anyone through a window when he’s off the field.


Those are my two sleepers – as Vukovcan asks “Who are yours?”

The recruitment of Ohio schoolboy Carson Van Lynn has an interesting back story to it.  He’s been offered by eight Power Five schools, albeit mid-level teams like Kentucky, RU, Indiana, etc… so that sounds pretty good especially since he’s been listed as a 3* recruit (even if unranked at this point).

So – all’s well and good right.  Right!  But what made Van Lynn, at a big size of 6’6” and 235 pounds, pick Pitt?  Because we were the only coaching staff that told him that he’d start out at Defensive End rather than the star Offensive Lineman he was at Kilbourne HS.  Apparently that is how he envisions himself there and we need a body there so it’s a marriage made on the Southside.

For those Pitt fans who really like to get down into the recruiting weeds here is a list of the Top 50 (!) high school senior recruits for the 2017 recruiting class.  Here are the Top Ten ’17 recruits as listed by Chris Dokish – who I rely on for individual recruit’s scouting-type reports.  Most have gone to other schools but we’ll do OK when the dust settles.

1. D’Andre Swift, St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia) RB- Solidly built at 5’10” 208, very fast, great feet and vision, and he even has very good hands. He’s the total package and that’s why his top five right now is Penn State, Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, and Florida State.

2. Lamont Wade, Clairton Area HS (Clairton) CB- At 5’9″ and 185 pounds, he doesn’t have ideal size for the position, but he’s very strong, fast, and quick. He also has the fire necessary for the position. Ohio State and Penn State seem like the most obvious leaders, and Pitt is a bit of a sleeper.

3. Paris Ford, Steel Valley HS (Munhall) FS- Thin, but has room to grow at 6’1″ and 175 pounds. Excellent speed and athleticism. Plays with a lot of emotion. Projects just as well at wide receiver. Has committed to PITTSBURGH.

4. David Adams, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) LB- Typical rugged western PA kid that was born to play linebacker. Good speed and athleticism. Has the range to make tackles all over the field. Committed to NOTRE DAME.

5. Donovan Jeter, Beaver Falls Area HS (Beaver Falls) DE- Big, strong, and athletic at 6’4″ and 265 pounds. Shed some weight so that he can play defensive end, but he could also be just as good at defensive tackle. Pittsburgh appears to be the leader with Penn State probably second. Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame are some of his other offers.

6. Mark Webb, Archbishop Wood Catholic HS (Warminster) WR- Good size at 6’2″ and 195 pounds with the frame to add more size. Has steadily been on the rise with impressive camp performances. At one point he seemed like he was destined for Penn State, but Georgia may lead now. Alabama and North Carolina are also heavily involved.

7. C.J. Thorpe, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) OG- Short and stocky at 6’3″ and 320 pounds, but has good feet for his size. He could also move over to DT if he doesn’t pan out on offense. Has committed to PENN STATE.

8. Josh Lugg, North Allegheny HS (Wexford) OT- At 6’7″ and 290 pounds he has great length, and he also moves very well. However he appears to be this year’s candidate for overrated PA lineman that national recruiting services do every year. At least for now since Lugg has yet to perform at a high level. He does have great natural attributes, though, so that still may come. Has committed to NOTRE DAME.

9. Kurt Hinish, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) DT- Probably the biggest surprise prospect of the season because nobody expected him to get the attention that he has. But he’s a solid 6’2″ and 285 pounds, and he moves well for his size. Has already committed to NOTRE DAME.

10. Kenny Robinson, University Prep HS (Pittsburgh) LB- Maybe the most under recruited prospect in the state, but that’s often the case when you play in Pittsburgh’s City League. At 6’3″ and 205 pounds he has a strong, athletic frame to go with his good speed and quickness. When it all comes together for him he could be a special player. It’s believed that Pittsburgh is the strong leader.

As you may have read before I don’t like the idea of Pitt fans getting in personal contact with prospective recruits before they sign their LOI to play for us. The NCAA rulings against doing this are pretty clear and this statement from an NCAA rep states it so anyone can understand:

 “Fans cannot contact a recruit and attempt to entice them to attend a certain school, as this is a violation of NCAA rules,” read Woodley’s statement. “If a school comes across an instance of this happening, it is expected they would reach out to those athletics personnel, fans and boosters and reinforce the ground rules related to communicating with recruits. This communication outreach would most likely be reported to the NCAA, which would show the school is doing their due diligence to abide by the NCAA rules.”

 We may look at this and say 1) that it is silly in this day and age or 2) it is unenforceable, but the truth is that we have seen stranger and more long-shot things happen in sports than a school being hit by the NCAA for these infractions.  I would hate to see Pitt twisting in the wind because some fans feel like they have any influence of a recruit at all. Besides it is kind of eerie to even think about IMO…which leads to these two humorous pieces on the subject:

 The Official “Should I tweet at recruits” questionnaire:

  1. Am I a coach or assistant coach employed by a collegiate institution contacting a prospective recruit during NCAA-approved times and in an NCAA-approved manner and do I not care about it being slightly shady/public?
  2. Am I a fellow recruit? (Note, this means you’re probably an elite high school athlete – while it’s probably OK for you to tweet at other recruits, know that crazy people are going to inject yourselves into the conversation – so maybe don’t do this)
  3. Am I employed by a recruiting service or media organization attempting to seek an interview? (I understand it’s your job and this is how the children communicate right now, but like, be considerate here – just remember, these kids are taking flak from everywhere)
  4. Do I think it’s OK to tweet at CHILDREN as a creepy old person encouraging them to go to an institution I probably didn’t attend?
  5. Do I think it’s OK to tweet at CHILDREN as a creepy old person encouraging them to go to an institution I attended, somehow graduated from, and skipped the part in my cognitive development that is essential at a university where I was supposed to learn BEING A STRANGER TWEETING AT CHILDREN IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA? (Reminder: society now considers you an adult, however foolishly that title may be bestowed)
  6. Am I a complete and total nutjob?
  7. I’ll ask #6 again. Am I a complete and total nutjob?

If that isn’t clear this may help you to figure out what is acceptable:


Here is an off-topic article by The City Paper’s Mike Wysocki on the Stanley Cup returning to Pittsburgh.  He’s always a fun read…

“Lord Stanley’s Cup is back in the 412. And when you look around the NHL, we’re pretty fortunate. 

To fans of the New York Rangers, the Cup is just like Halley’s Comet. They see it once every 76 years. Philadelphia Flyers fans last saw it in 1975, when the finals pre-empted an episode of the hit television show Maude. Fans of the Washington Capitals are 42-year-old-virgins; they haven’t scored with Stanley once since they were born in 1974. Buffalo has had as many cups as Super Bowl rings, and the Cup hasn’t been back home to its native Canada since 1993, the year before the birth of its next greatest import, Justin Bieber.

But the Cup is back in Pittsburgh for the fourth time in the past 25 seasons, a feat matched only by the Detroit Red Wings. The Cup and its white-gloved gentlemen handlers will follow members of the team around for the next 100 days.

That is the time allotted to each team for its accomplishment. The 35-pound trophy must be a nice conversation-starter, as well as the ultimate bragging right. Every Penguin will get his turn to pal around with Stanley, and here’s what I think some of the players are likely to do with it.”

On an administrative note I’d like to thank everyone for a very successful launch of the blog.  The stats on how many people have stopped by and read the articles are outstanding and have made me really feel that we have something good here.

And when I say “we” I truly mean that – I consider this a Pitt fan’s blog and my goal as the owner/writer is to generate the same sort of fun and detailed conversations  debates as we held elsewhere.

I’ll have a Sunday Morning podcast up tomorrow – I’ve decided on Sunday as I think people have more ‘downtime’ to listen then than on a busy Saturday with all the Saturday things that go on – especially with kids.

Thanks everyone…





27 thoughts on “Recruiting Tidbits, etc…

  1. Reed – thanks agin for all the work. As always, we have no idea how these kids will work out and where the diamonds in the rough are. However, looking back on the last 10 years or so, it is nice to see the offers to high level kids – even if they pick ND or Michigan – who have us in their top 5. AND, the kids who are committing don’t just have offers from Bowling Green, Miami (OH) and Kent St. But, I still believe we are a year or two away from a talent standpoint, especially on defense, so I will be patient this year (yeah, right!).


  2. Tweeting is just another social media venue that, when used properly, is not inappropriate to be used by (“creepy”, as you describe them) adults in communicating with younger people. As long as adults conduct themselves as such, and follow the NCAA guidelines, a tweet out to a recruit is just fine to do. A compliment on obtaining an offer, best wishes sent for performing well in an upcoming game or sharing a emoji in agreement with a previous comment all are acceptable communications. The issues arise when adults fail to act like grown ups &/or try to influence a kids thinking. Those are BIG NO NOs.


  3. Are people having to enter your name & email address every time you comment? – Tom I know you just mentioned you had to on the Blather. Did you with you comment above at 9:03 am?

    btw – I said “eerie”


  4. Wheeler performed well at the Big 33 game… I thought he might be a little overrated but he could surprise a lot of us…especially if he puts the work in the weight room.

    And yes, I had to re-enter my user name and email address again. Wish it would save it somehow.


  5. As I posted on your previous thread, although by with Camp & Wheeler, Watts should be included in that discussion of freshmen recruits who have a chance to make a contribution to the team this season with early playing time. The interior D line has no depth. Jarrett, Taleni & Moody are it for guys with experience at the position. Both Soto and Shane Roy have been moved inside from their DE spots simply because we need bodies there. Hopefully both will be effective, but neither have any playing time on the inside. There is a big boy, Calvin Hamilton, who is a walk on from last year there too but that’s it.
    The lemonaid with this tenuous situation though is that the opportunity for early playing time was probably a factor in the commitments of both Watts & Camp. Come fall camp, this will be a story that will be interesting to see played out. I would not be the least bit surprised to see one of these freshmen make the most of their opportunity and leap frog over a Shane Roy or Calvin Hamilton to stake their claim to a position in the two deep straight away.
    If this doesn’t happen then we are probably in for another season of subpar DL play for the panthers, unfortunately.


  6. Last year’s class was very encouraging, perhaps that is why I am underwhelmed with this year’s recruiting so far. Hopefully things will pick up and Narduzzi will finish strong again.

    I am also interested in how the previous year’s recruits and transfers fair this year. We need Hendrix to be great, but we also need Edwards, Stocker, McKee and Brightwell to contribute something so that they are not green rookies next year. It would also help a great deal if Tipton and Henderson make a few plays this year.

    Not really a dark horse since he is a 4 star, but Hall has the size and speed to help on D. Don’t see him getting many carries on offense, but he may be a good end around guy like Boyd and Whitehead last year.


  7. Other Dark Horse possibilities, probably wishful thinking, but Pugh or Pine making the two deep would be a big plus.
    FFrench being a deep threat if stonehands doesn’t come through, would be excellent.


  8. I have to go paint my kid’s house – I’ll work on this when I can, please don’t stop commenting – is anyone other than Dr Tom having to re-enter info each time? (He may be cursed or something).


  9. BTW, I’m aware that Amir Watts was recruited as a DE. This incoming class is an embarrassment of riches at that position however. In addition to Watts, Zack Gilbert, Rashad Weaver, Bryce Hargrove & as listed above, early enrollee Patrick Jones II, are all at DE. Watts has the potential to bulk up beyond his current 270 lbs. and like Soto and Roy, I could see Watts being asked to contribute by moving to the inside by Narduzzi to reinforce those troops come fall camp.
    Regarding the DE position. We are going to be pleasantly surprised on how much better the Panthers are there this season. Rori Blair will have a fire built under him with the competition that will be provided by Dewayne Hendrix and Allen Edwards this year. In fact Edwards is my “sleeper newcomer” for 2016. I thought he’d be a force at DE last season as a JC transfer but Narduzzi decided to RS him instead. This guy is ready to play, and remember this is no incoming freshman, just beginning to shave. He is four years out of HS, same graduating class as Tyler Boyd, a full grown man now ready to contribute.
    Hail to Pitt!


  10. @ gc, no way the kids listed above by you burn their red shirts, none. With the move of Zeise to LB, the two deep will be flush with competition for Playing time. I see Wriginis, Zeise and McKee all contributing behind the starters. Brightwell is the dark horse at LB this season and that’s only because he needs to add bulk. His speed may trump that inadequacy however.


  11. anonymous, I did say it was wishful thinking. Our linebacker play, especially vs Navy was pretty pathetic. Still our biggest weakness on D this year. Galambos, similar to a former QB, puts up a lot of numbers, but doesn’t make the big play when you need it. Also the best we have had at the position, just not quite good enough. Same with Caprara, great kids hard workers, just don’t have P-5 speed.


  12. Another camp this weekend, need a Pat Signal or two. A lot of elite players considering Pitt, but it looks like decisions from these guys won’t be made till the last minute.


  13. Based on that top ten, Narduzzi not convincing the local kids that “Pitt is it”. Hate to see ND winning all of these battles.


  14. Sean when you say “there is talk of a lot of recruits at Pitt” I assume you saw that on Pitt Panthers Fanatics group on Facebook?

    Yes I still have to enter my username and email each time I post. I think this is the norm. When I went to “like” a post it asked me to log in…since I didnt have an account, it wanted me to create one and then proceeded to try and get me to create my own blog site #wut


  15. Yet Van Lynn is supposedly pegged for DE. Of course, he will be wherever he has the best chance of playing, Haven’t seen his film but he plays high competition in Ohio so that bodes well.

    FWIW, Cameron Bright’s (2017) and M Ffrench’s (16) highlight films are the two most impressive ones that I have seen in the past year or so of all Pitt commits …. yet neither were really highly rated at the time they verbaled. Not sure, maybe they didn’t play good HS competition.


  16. If we can get great play from the ends, we will not need the tackles to be great. The problem has been outside containment. If a team has success outside it sets everything up because then the players start over pursuing and thats when you get gashed up the middle.


  17. pittisit – correct and Narduzzi (and Conkilns) pass defense is predicated on heavy pressure on the QB so if we don’t get that we’ll see a repeat of the big gainers opponent’s passing games racked up against us.


  18. Love this class, extremely underrated, had it been pedo st, it would’ve been a top 20 class. This is the type of class that championships are built on, I would love to go through each recruit and give my assessment but I hate writing, thus an engineering degree 🙂 My dark horse though is Henry Miller at 6’3 205 lbs he is Mel Blount-esque! Both size and speed, neither of which can be coached, may be the ultimate shutdown corner! H2P!


  19. Since I signed up for agravatar I haven’t had problems with home computer, now testing on work computer.
    While PN pressure does lean on CBs and pressure from DEs if there are no DL up the middle where would you run it? Gotta have at least solid DTs – not there yet. Gotta see what develops in fall camp.


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