Whether they are multiple year starters or constant bench-warmers I always look at the departing senior football players with fondness. Most have been with the team for a full four years; some have stuck around for that fifth red shirt season, but all of them gave Pitt their best.
We have some seniors who were highly rated recruits. Some are kids who walked on and busted ass to make a space for themselves on the roster and some are seniors who came to Pitt via transfers and had a shot at playing time that way.
However they got here and whatever they did here let’s send them off with our thanks. As you can see from the table below we have a lot of solid contributors who will be leaving after this season. At least 11 of those kids were solid starters for us.
We’ll have a lot of time over the offseason to discuss which underclassmen are going to fleet up and take some of those vacant starters’ spaces but I did want to take a moment and recognize these young men who stuck with it and finished out at Pitt. Most of these kids had two head coaches – Ejuan Price had three. If you remember Old Man Price played in all of 2011’s games as a true freshmen under Todd Graham.
Of course they all had a ton of staff coaching changes to go along with different faces in the athletic department and in the Pitt administration.
One thing I think is interesting to do is to look back at when these players were HS seniors and to see how much they physically grew while at Pitt. For instance: Terrish Webb – 5’11” 170 to 5’11” 195 (+25 lbs), while on the other end of the scale Jeremiah Taleni went from 315 lbs to 290 (-25 lbs).
Let’s congratulate those seniors and redshirt seniors who stuck it out and finished their college careers at Pitt. Let’s hope just as many have their degrees when they leave also. These Pitt seniors aren’t lacking in the awards arena either. Here are just a few:
Dorian Johnson—Offensive Guard; American Football Coaches Association All-American (first team); ESPN.com All-American (first team); SI.com All-American (first team); Sporting News All-American (first team); Walter Camp All-American (second team)
Ejuan Price—Defensive End; American Football Coaches Association All-American (second team); USA TODAY All-American (second team); Walter Camp All-American (second team).
Adam Bisnowaty and Mike Caprara pulled in recognition for their off-field accomplishments also.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Here is the Pitt Athletic Department’s Football website. Take a look at the news releases – you’ll see for yourselves what these young men have accomplished as the list is extensive. Hell, we could write a book on James Conner himself (which I’m sure is in the works as we speak).
Plus we are looking at some future NFL players on that list. I usually don’t put a lot of stock in who makes an NFL team as opposed to how well they played at Pitt – DB Lafayette Pitts is a good example of that, but I think Bisnowaty, Price, Orndoff, Johnson and maybe Peterman will have a shot at the next level.
Another interesting point, at least for me, is just how many recruits from the original recruiting classes actually finished out their four or five years depending at Pitt. For instance here is the ‘original’ Rivals.com 2012 recruiting class; in it you can see that over 50% (9 0f 16) recruits didn’t play a full four years at Pitt:
Pretty crappy that the top three recruits quit the team on us although Voytik transferred which is a nicer way of saying he left the team. That was a lot of talent on paper and we only got one single starting year out of it.
Which is why I continually say that talking about recruits and recruiting and trying to project years in advance before these kids actually suit up and are on the team for at least a year or two doesn’t mean anything. As shown around half won’t contribute anyway.
You might point to the numerous coaching changes for that and I’m sure it was a factor for that particular 2012 class but if you look back historically you’ll see that right around a 40%-50% attrition rate for any class of recruits is normal.
Later on we’ll discuss the red shirt Seniors coming up in 2017 and whether or not their scholarships may be on the chopping block as they sometimes are, but for right now I think a loud “Thank you” to these Pitt Seniors are in order.