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:
- 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?
- 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)
- 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)
- 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?
- 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)
- Am I a complete and total nutjob?
- 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.