A Look at Our 2017 Recruit Class

We have exactly 11 days left before the 2017 National Letter Of Intent day on Feb 1st and that is a short time to try to land the recruits that we want to have on the Pitt roster for next season. The problem is that for most of the recruits we are trying to sway toward Pitt is that they have formal offers from other programs and are being hounded by all those other school’s recruiters as well.

After further review of each 2017 recruit I’m more impressed with this class than last year’s and more than I was just a few weeks ago.  They almost all have at least one FBS offer and most have Power Five offers also – other than the Pitt one of course.

Fans tend to look at different things when assessing a prospective recruit.  Some love the star system; some rely on the national rankings given out and others look at the different football program’s quality level of scholarship offers the player has received.

But when you rely on offers received you have to be a bit wary that 1) they are true offers and 2) they are recorded correctly by each site.  You’ll see that they don’t always match up between the three recruiting sites and I know for a fact that some recruits who attended elsewhere publicly said they had a Pitt offer when there never was an offer from Pitt at all.

Bottom line is that what we fans get from the recruiting sites is opinions by some beat writers and that based on info they receive from their site’s scouts, the recruit and his parents and sometimes the recruit’s HS coach also.

Because of all the above when I write about recruiting I always use Rivals.com as the standard because that avoids cherry-picking different recruits’ star rankings from other sites to bolster a point being made.  Plus I trust Rival’s Chris Peak’s and their scouts’ take on the recruits more than the other sites.  I just believe what Peak writes based on my  post-recruitment reviews (after a kid has some time  on-roster) of his opinions more that other recruiting writers.

A clear reminder of how differently the recruiting sites value players is when Pitt’s 2010 QB recruit Mark Myers was assessed by the recruiting sites.  Rivals had him at 4*s and 11th nationally; Scout at 3*s and around 34th and ESPN had him at a low 2*s and the 103rd ranked QB.  That is a huge swing between the three major sites and happens, albeit not always so dramatically, all the time.  And where was he finally in his D1 college career? Much closer to ESPN’s 2* & 103rd ratings.

Recruits should really have the same disclaimer attached to them as Mutual Funds do… you know – “Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results

As of this Saturday morning writing this is who Rivals.com has listed as our verbally committed players:

Name Pos Location Ht Wt Stars Rating
Charles Reeves TE Steubenville, OH 6’5″ 265 4 5.8
Paris Ford DB Munhall, PA 6’0″ 172 4 6
Michael Smith WR Vero Beach, FL 6’2″ 205 3 5.6
Jason Pinnock DB Windsor, CT 6’0″ 180 3 5.5
Damarri Mathis DB Lakeland, FL 5’11” 178 3 5.7
Deslin Alexandre DE Deerfield Beach, FL 6’3″ 229 3 5.5
Jerry Drake OL Palm Beach, FL 6’7″ 300 3 5.5
Carter Warren OL Wayne, NJ 6’6″ 320 3 5.7
Grant Carrigan TE Gibsonia, PA 6’7″ 235 3 5.5
Tyler Sear TE New Castle, PA 6’5″ 255 3 5.5
Kirk Christodoulou K North Balwyn (AU), 6’2″ 215 3 5.3
Gabe Houy OL Pittsburgh, PA 6’6″ 270 3 5.5
Dontavius Butler WR Plantation, FL 6’2″ 197 3 5.5
Albert Tucker DB Ft. Lauderdale, FL 6’3″ 205 3 5.5
Carson Van Lynn OL Worthington, OH 6’6″ 235 3 5.5
Owen Drexel OL Montclair, NJ 6’4″ 280 3 5.4
Todd Sibley RB Akron, OH 5’10” 211 3 5.7
Darian Street WR Bethlehem, PA 6’2″ 170 3 5.5
Cameron Bright LB Montgomery, AL 6’1″ 210 3 5.5
Kenny Pickett QB Oakhurst, NJ 6’3″ 191 3 5.5
Kyle Nunn ATH Findlay, OH 6’3″ 190 3 5.6

This is a total, so far, of 21 recruits with a national class rank of 33rd which is pretty good. Our historic rankings are shown in the table below so you can see this is one of the better classes we have had in the past ten years.


Getting back to this year’s class; I like the following players in particular aside from the obvious 4* Paris Ford and some others.

֍  RB Todd Silby  is a 3* recruit who has come to us after verballing to Ohio State first then decided to have a mutual agreement with the OSU coaches to decommit when OSU kept picking up other RB verbals.  He’s the 24th nationally ranked running back and the 17th ranked player of all positions in the state of Ohio.

One of the things that makes me interested in him is that his back story is much like the last Ohio State player we got in DE Ejuan Price.  After some injury filled seasons earlier on he has become one of the nation’s best defensive player in college ball.  let’s hope lightning strikes twice.

֍  In a real position of need I like what 4* TE Charles Reeves brings to Pitt.  As the 13th ranked TE he has offers from Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn state and that’s just a sampling of a damn nice offer list.

He’s big at 6’5″ and 265 and fast and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up at DE down the road… especially if Chris Clark lives up to hype.

But one of the reasons I’m hoping for him to really excel and to do it early is that I’m suspect of our current roster TE Chris Clark and that may be for no other reason that I don’t trust kids who make promises to multiple schools and then don’t keep them.

You can see a nice 12 minute video of Reeves here and he;s going to be a grand player for us.

֍  My last player to watch is the unheralded 2* Aussie punter Kirk Christodoulou.  This guy came out of nowhere and there is almost no info on any recruiting sites about him at all.

Now remember that our current punter rsSR Ryan Winslow has another year of eligibility with us so the pressure will be off Christodoulou to fill that role right away.  But Winslow only averaged 42.6 yards per punt (the national leader was at 47.9)  so if  Christodoulou can start booming them right away, and his leg is supposed to be very strong, then maybe he takes over the punting duties sooner rather than later.

Hey folks, with the horrible defense we had last year and may have again in 2017 every yard we can push the opponent back is sorely needed.

Here is a good Pittsburgh Sports Now article on how he came to be a Panther.  He loves them bridges! 

The upshot of my recent positive change of heart about this recruiting class aside, and I do like it more than before, is that I think we still have some major question marks with it.  First off I’m not all that impressed with the offensive lineman recruited although I have no grounds to think they can’t do well in a few years.  I’m spoiled by the OLs Paul Chryst recruited.

I also hope unranked 3* Kenny Pickett works out at QB for us because Ben DiNucci’s relief play in the Pinstripe Bowl aside he most probably isn’t in the mix for any solid playing time in the future.

In this season we will have rsSR Max Browne as the starter and rsSO MacVitte taking the QB2 snaps.  After that in ’18 I think we’ll see MacVitte as the starter and Pickett backing him up. Bo Schneider will take off soon I believe so he’ll be out of the equation.  That leaves Pitt with a rsFR as the back up in ’18 and that is a tricky situation with any personnel.

We need to close this class with a bang and I thought we’d have done more with quality verbals since the dead period stopped than we have. Time is running out and even though we closed out the 2016 with five players verballed after Jan 21st it’s coming down to the wire.

Two 4* kids in a class isn’t enough really – we need solid star power to win championships and while I see some real contributors this year; DB Paris Ford, WR Michael Smith and  ATH Kyle Nunn among them, and some others will be good future starters for us,  I don’t see any real superstar players there.

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50 thoughts on “A Look at Our 2017 Recruit Class

  1. I also like what we have so far. And am optimistic that we get two or three ore sold players. Then we coach them up.

    And, typo to correct. It”s Ryan Winslow, not Kris.



  2. In a week and a half, we’ll see if Narduzzi pulls another couple aces out of his sleeve like he has in the past at the very end of the recruiting process.

    Currently we have 21 recruits. By LOI Signing Day, I assure you that we’ll have at least 25 signees, two of them will be homeruns with positions of need @ DL & LB addressed.


  3. I love to talk recruiting. It’s a great way to bridge the end of the season to spring practices. Right off the bat I have to say, PITT did recruit at least one future superstar in Paris Ford. I think there are a few more but I’m off to my middle grandson’s birthday party at Chucky Cheese and if I survive that, will post later.

    Reed, It’s great to see you getting all involved in the recruiting aspect of PITT football. Is there a way to pin this article to the top? This could be great discussion for the next several weeks. Thanks…. ike


  4. Need more 4 stars
    Like the focus on Florida
    Nard Dog ‘gets’ recruiting. Chryst never did.

    I’m hoping that Stallings also ‘gets’ recruiting. Dixon could never recruit the athlete required for ACC play.


  5. Auburn: Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has rejoined the Auburn staff as offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach, as first reported by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. Lindsey spent 2013 as an analyst at Auburn, before going to Southern Miss as offensive coordinator and then Arizona State.

    Arizona State: Fraud Graham will be searching for his third offensive coordinator since becoming HC of the Sun Devils after leaving Pitt in less than one full year. This will be Fraud’s third different OC in the last three years.


  6. Pitt will have approx 26 with Browne as a transfer. Last years class and this years will be the backbone of the 2018 on program. I believe Twyman is a silent commit and that Pitt will bring in another DE or two,a possible LB er Proctor and RB. Carter at DT is also a strong possibility. If that holds, Pitt wiil be in a low 30 or high twenties ranking.


  7. You will see in this year’s class that Florida is well represented. Pitt has had a great deal of success with 3 stars from that state (Lee, Cox, Session Blades, Sheard,, Gordon, etc — I believe A Bryant, Mustakas and Romeus were 2 stars.)

    Hopefully, this trend will continue


  8. I also feel we recruited some strong players of need for next year. The staff has worked very hard and it will be rewarded with victories in the future. A side note I watched the 2018 recruit offered to the young man from Mercyhurst Prep in Erie. He is a stud and would help us a lot. Maybe Conners speaks to him (he’s from Erie) Erie loves James and his style. Reed I also am happy you are touching on recruiting. This is what separates the winners from Hasbins. It’s an important time for all coaches and fans. Thanks. H2P


  9. PetePitt – That news was reported by Chris is about Mike Grimm leaving which we talked about last week. Also he confirmed Challingsworth, Poker and Grimm – again what we talked about last week.

    I just wonder if we are going to see Ollison or Schneider on that list soon.

    But a lot of players who leave the program early do so right before and after spring drills and right before fall camp.- Mostly in the spring though…


  10. TX Panther – when Pat Narduzzi can put an offense made up of his recruits out on the field and score 40+ points a game I might agree with you – but those were almost all Chryst recruits save Peterman and Q Henderson.

    Those are two good ones but that really was a Chryst offense.

    The offensive plays all had Chryst’s recruits across the OL board. in them. Some confuse O’Neil as a HCPN recruit but he was a rsSO last season and recruited by Chryst.

    Defense is a different story…


  11. Nope, we know that Brian O’Neill was brought in by HCPC. you may think otherwise since we brought him up as a Narduzzi guy on the OL when you were previously debating the OL coaching. O’Neil moved to tackle from TE after Chryst left, so he’s a successful Narduzzi interior OL experiment.


  12. Right Doc. O’Neill is just as much a Narduzzi product as anyone’s. Heck, he’s gone from TE, to O-line, to receiver/running back to option QB, then back to the O-line. Bookser also coached up by JP for two plus years. Dintino also moved to the O-line by Narduzzi and JP. That’s 3 of the 5 projected starters for next year with the Duzz’s imprint on them.

    I’ve been saying this for awhile now that I just don’t see Q Ollison leaving the program right now. Watching his body language every chance I get, he seems to be even more spirited than other so called happy PITT players. I really do wish we can all find out what and why he didn’t carry the ball more this past year. Although he did play more than some think he did. The answer may surprise us all? (some more than others)

    Also a repeat, I just think that Drexel could be ready next year to step into the starting O-line next at center and solidify the position for the next 3 years. Warren will be a real good one as well. imo

    At first I heard Sear would be the incoming TE possibly moved to the O-Line while most speculate it may be Carrigan. Look for Sear to move.

    One recruit we never hear mentioned is Kyle Nunn. When someone is listed as an athlete we should pay more attention especially when he’s 6’3″ and close to 200lbs. This young man has all kinds of possibilities and who knows where he will end up but he does have my ears pricked up a good bit.

    The birthday party was brutal. I have 6 grand-kids from the ages 5 to 3. Love them all but when they are in that environment, I barely get a howdy do from any of them. The ear plug suggestion came a little too late but thanks anyways pmd. …….. ike



  13. Tom – yes he is but the subject is recruiting and I think some Pitt fans – not really on here much but elsewhere – just can’t seem to give Chryst credit for anything when the one thing he did very well was recruit offensive players. (Funny, eh? Heard that before…)

    And if this staff could have kept Voytik on the roster we’d have had a bowl victory for win for #9 – I believe that also.


  14. FWIW. I have been saying for a while that HCPC takes the credit for the offense this year (except for the QB … as well as for the defense this year.

    Next season will be the first year we will begin to see the effectiveness of the new staff’s recruits .. although there will still be a smattering of PC’s recruits, especially on offense. The defense will be inexperienced but definitely have more speed.


  15. Next year will be the fourth OC in four years for PITT. It would be really remarkable to see any piggyback effects from last year all things considered. Not making excuses only stating my opinion based on logic.

    Here’s another one. I doubt the defense next year will be as bad as it was last year. This is easy….ike


  16. OC at Oklahoma State was a top candidate for the Auburn job according to some sources. He didn’t get it but he was looking. Might he be a candidate at Pitt? He played QB at Shippensburg State and was a star QB at Euclid High School in the 1990’s on some great Euclid Division 1 (big school) teams. We saw what his team could do last fall when we played OSU. Ironic if he did wind up at Pitt, wouldn’t it? BTW I was an administrator at Euclid High back then, so I am am a bit biased with my recommendation.


  17. Upitt: I have a friend who owned a small hotel on Singer. His name was Miller. Never made it down.

    We could stay anywhere during the winter but we have a 13 year old Lab in total failing health and we love him to death. He’s never been boarded and we would never leave him alone for an extended time. Such is life. (we would miss the kids anyways)


  18. Chryst recruited some hogs on the O line and that line allowed Nate to flourish. But without a good QB this O goes nowhere. And the D is all on Chryst. My point is that he needed to recruit as well on D as he did the O. And he needed to find players who got more than MAC offers. And he needed to recruit outside of state. But he was a sloth in regards to recruiting and didnt have the assistants with the gusto to do it. I see little good in a 6-6 coach over the past 4 years. Yes he provided stability and a clean program but we could have dug Majors out of retirement and gotten the same results.


  19. Happened to notice that Mitch Trubisky, the QB at North Carolina, who is projected to be a 1st round NFL pick, was rated 3-Stars by Rivals (which I think gets used a lot as the benchmark rating service on this site) coming out of high school, and we’ve seen other NFL star players that had average ratings when recruited by colleges. So I align with the importance of “coaching up” players that have certain natural athletic skills. Others may disagree, but it seemed to me that Walt Harris had a knack of coaching up QB’s and receivers (or maybe it was the assistants that he had). Maybe it’s a lost art in these days of college football, but I always had respect for Navy teams that most likely had mainly 2 and 3 star players, and the coach’s ability to either improve their play or design the offense to maximize the ability and value of these players.


  20. Ike, I have an 18 year-old Jack Russell. He stopped eating and drinking yesterday. I cooked up some chicken today and he refused it. Pretty clear what’s happening now.


  21. Thanks Upitt, hope the great weather works wonders for you!

    94, isn’t it crazy we get ourselves into this situation when we know a dog’s life, especially a full blooded one, can be very short? Gus (our dog) is the third lab we have nurtured and unfortunately we won’t have around very much longer and will cry like babies when he’s gone. Actually we had all 3 labs at the same time for a while. I hope your Jack can live for awhile longer and give you the peace of mind so he can be let go with a feeling of relief and little sorrow. Gus, who’s laying right beside me, and myself, send our very best….


  22. Reed, I think you can add a 5 star to your recruiting lineup Browne. Now maybe after 4 years at USC and having played so little he should be downgraded to a 4 or 3 star at this point in time.—PSN several weeks back had a large list of players ranked very low playing in the NFL today. I believe the Steelers RB Bell was a 2 star and I’m quite sure WR Antonio Brown was in the same category.


  23. One additional point this morning, I do believe there should always be 1 to 2 scholarship left on the table for some quality walk on players. I’m sure there are quite a few other teams that would love to have offered Aston a scholarship if given a chance today.


  24. PittPT – still off. ENT said he is thinking viral ear infection. It takes 3-4 weeks to get better or migraines can attack ears vs like usual migraine pain. Im probably 30% better. Some days better than others. But still off kilter quite a bit.


  25. Panther94… prayers for Gus… I have had a couple of Goldens who made it to 11 and 8… my vet told me retrievers live an average of 10 years…they give so much to us in that short time they are in our lives …


  26. UPitt, you should have had an MRI of brain and internal auditoy canals with contrast. If you still have vertigo when you go to golf tournament in Pgh go early and make appt at UPMC Balance Disorder Clinic


  27. PANeuro – I had a catscan at hospital and they said all clear but I agree that doesnt show what an MRI would show right? The ENT set me up for an Audio and something else test as well in florida but I want to get that done sooner in Texas. Should I skip that and go straight to Neurologist? Thanks! Are you a Neurologist?


  28. Upitt, I totally agree. If you want to have a conclusive diagnosis you need the MRI with contrast. Then the doctors and yourself will know everything there is to know…


  29. I would think if your symptoms persist after your next round of tests by the ENT, with no conclusive findings I’d definitely go the neurologist route. Was a neurologist consulted while you were in the hospital, Upitt?


  30. OL – I think we have two stars with the OL recruits. Drake and Warren appear to be the real deal and I think they will be great. Houy and Drexel will be solid as well. I am against using Sear on the OL. Watch his tape. He can run and catch. Reminds me of JPHoltz.

    TE-Reeves Island reminds me of Eric Green at this point in their careers. Reeves need to get quicker and faster to be a superstar. It is up to him. That is what so many miss. At the end of the day, the kids make it or break it for themselves, not the coaches. Coaches don’t teach desire, sorry. They do try to break you so you quit.

    I think Carrigan might do well on the DL due to his length. I don’t see him as a TE, mainly because I haven’t seen tape on him there as he is used as an OL. I have watched him as a DL and he does well there.

    I don’t think we can say that Pitt gets to 9 wins had Voytik been ready to go at the bowl game. There is no evidence to suggest we would have won 8 regular season games had Peterman been constantly looking over his shoulder and vice versa. The 2 QB s may not have been good for team psyche. We will never know the answer, but wanted to state a different take on that comment.


  31. Our first 4 games this past year was pretty much without a passing game … and we lost 2 of those. It wan’t until the 4th quarter of the 5th game vs Marshall when Peterman and Weah broke out … and it became an integral part of offense

    Huff, Pine-Richland doesn’t use tight ends so Carrigan played OL and DL as you probably know. I saw P-R play on TV the very first game when they played at the defending Ohio state champ .. and Carrigan dominated the 1st half at DE (sacks, pressures, blocks). I can see him at TE, OL or DE … 6’7 wit quick feet and plenty of room to grow


  32. Voytik was a spread type QB who was in a pro set type offense. Just not a good fit. Peterman is in the Senior bowl and is trending up the charts. No way Chad plays close to Peterman this year. Great young man and wish him well. Pitt has a couple of swing guys in Proctor and Garbutt who could go either way. My gut says VTech for Garbutt based on Pitt late offer for another DE. Proctor I think Pitt has a good shot with. Pitt is at 22 with three maybe four to go. DE, Twyman and RB or LBer.


  33. Upitt, am a neurologist. MRI is the best way to evaluate areas of the brain which could cause vertigo. Vertigo may also be of inner ear origin and that could be evaluated by a test called a VNG


  34. Don’t forget, Reed, that Chryst got very lucky with his best OL recruit, when Dorian Johnson backed out of his commitment to Penn State because the NCAA sanctions had just come down and Pitt was the beneficiary thereof.


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