Pitt’s recruiting is winding down now with just eight more days for the staff to close out what they want to accomplish. Regardless of who they get from now until LOI Day the chances are that whoever it is won’t make an impact next year – although some true freshmen do it, it’s a long shot. So let’s talk about the departures from the three team units; offense, defense and special teams.
Today lets look at what the 2017 the offense may be in the opener in September. Which by the way the first three games look like this .
Not the easiest 2nd game for new starters to play in – PSU in Happy Valley. Ugh
We know there are at least five starters who will be missing when spring practices start in late march. Here they are:
QB Nate Peterman, RB James Conner, TE Scott Orndoff and OL’s Adam Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson. Damn, that is a hell of a lot of talent and just among those skill players, the three TDs makers, Orndoff, Conner and Peterman accounted for 46 of our 64 touchdowns… let me say that a different way. Between the three they scored 72% of our offensive points!
How do we try to replace that with the returning talent on hand? At the QB position I don’t think anyone is really thinking that Thomas MacVitte is going to be in the starting lineup. There is no doubt in my mind that transfer rsSR QB Max Browne is slated to be the starting QB when September rolls around.
We have seen Pat Narduzzi make this exact move just two years ago and back then he was intent on replacing a incumbent QB who had already started 13 games in Chad Voytik. There isn’t going to be any hesitation on his and/or whoever is the new OC’s part to get an experienced QB in behind our center. That is even more imperative when you consider we will have brand new TEs and two new OLs starting (and maybe even a new RB).
But there are alternative QBs waiting in the wings. rsFR Thomas MacVitte is a 3* recruit who sat out his true FR year and is talented. Personally, I think the fans have built up an unworthy amount of hype around MacVitte and sometimes that isn’t necessarily a good thing for a young man to have to live up to.
Expectations based on perceived talent and past performance is one thing and that’s normal; big hype is a whole different animal. I think he’s at least a year away from being ready to take on a Power Five starting role.
Alongside him and a year older is rsSO QB Ben DiNucci who we just saw give his best effort in the bowl game. DiNucci was recruited to be a career back-up in my opinion. He a nice sized kid at 6’2″ and 215 lbs, pretty much the same size as Peterman, but there the comparisons stop.
DiNucci’s best offer was Akron and we targeted him as a late offer scholarship and turned him from U of Pennsylvania to Pitt. But I think it was really to get an additional local player on the roster. Others differ on that point.
Along with him we have JR Bo Schneider and now 2017 recruit Kenny Pickett – but they are out of the conversation for the 2017 season. Pickett will be one to watch in the 2018 season especially I think – he’s a good one.
Let’s assume it will be Max Browne on the field for us. What does he bring to the table that MacVitte doesn’t? Well, we know he started three games for USC last year before losing the job to a highly rated true FR. Hmmm, that isn’t all that that great. We also know that Browne was everyone’s Golden Boy coming out of HS back in 2013.
Take a look at those rankings and his offers – along with the five stars. That is only half of his offer sheet. #1 QB, #7 overall and #1 in California is pretty damn impressive.
But what has he done lately? Well, even with my poor graphics work below you can see Browne actually threw 112 passes over his last three years at USC and getting experience with a PAC-10 team in doing so… 112 passes for 650 yards.
Put it this way with a comparison to our last transfer QB. In Peterman’s three years playing at Tennessee he had just 23 passes for 94 yards or only 15% of passes Browne had thrown.
Speaking of the “New King O’ the Southside” Max Browne I have to make a correction. I had written earlier that Browne was like a water buffalo behind center – meaning slow footed. I was wrongly informed as he’s pretty mobile apparently. Sorry Charlie.
At Tight End things get interesting this upcoming season. In the last two years we lost very good, maybe even ‘star’, TEs in J. P. Holtz and now Scott Orndoff. Orndoff had a very productive season for us as you can see below:
His 35 receptions for a 16.5 average is excellent for a TE and he could block very well also. Look at the ’16 highlights videos and you’ll see him downfield blocking a lot because he had the speed to do that and that’s not easy for a guy who is 6’5 and 255 lbs.
Now that Zach Poker has left the program the only two TEs left on the current roster are SO Chris “The Nomad” Clark and non-scholarship player Nate Bossary, who most likely will remain in a deep back-up role. Interesting thing about Bossary is that he was in the Air Force Academy until he transferred to Pitt in mid-year 2015.
Apparently Clark is talented – although that didn’t stop UCLA from asking him to leave and then Syracuse pulling their offer to take him as a transfer after he announced he’d be going there.
To me Chris Clark is a real case of “I’ll believe it when I see it“. Until then I’m going to hope like hell true 4* freshman recruit Charles Reeves can rise to the occasion and step right into a starting role.
The size factor won’t be a problem for Reeves – at 6’5″ and 265 he’s already D1 built. The problem I see, and this is common among TEs coming out of HS, is getting his blocking down well enough to be the 6th offensive lineman when needed.
Going out on pass patterns will come with him drilling with the offense in fall camp. But being a receiver is way easier than learning blocking schemes well and then doing it consistently.
We’ll cover the Offensive line and Special Teams tomorrow then go into the defense. Also thanks so very much for the donation turnout so far – you guys are truly the best.
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