All’s quiet on the Western PA’s front, which isn’t a good thing like it was in WWI. Here are the recruits that we have grabbed so far in the all-important month of January, which in recruiting terms is the most important time period. That is because top-shelf recruits with the most really good offers usually wait until this month to commit to a university’s football program.
You see above we have three 3* kids with one coming in as a re-commit from a community college after being kicked off the Penn State team in 2015. Actually though, he may turn out to be the biggest ‘get’ in this class.
These players are fine I suppose, as are the other players we have verballed to Pitt, but right now is when Pat Narduzzi is supposed to be reeling in the big fish and not have he and his staff traveling throughout the country visiting important recruits and hearing “Thanks, but we’ll call you if …“.
Right now our recruiting class sits at 22 players with room for at least five more (I believe) and are ranked 37th nationally. That ranking is down a few slots from last week and if we don’t get some decent players in the next two days it will slide a bit more.
I don’t put a whole lot of stock in class rankings because there are so many variables – but it is one way of comparison and a point of discussion among fans.
To say this is disconcerting is pretty mild, at least in my opinion. Yes, there are some solid players with good offers in this group and some will be stars. I wrote the other day that upon reflection it was a good class but in my last paragraph I also said that changes unless we get some real prospective high-end talent in the last week of the recruiting season.
At this point that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Now – one thing for fans to remember is that Letter Of Intent Day (LOI Day) is just the first and earliest day that recruits can sign letters of commitment to a school. We can keep recruiting players and get signed commitments after LOI Day up until sometime in April I believe. But that rarely happens.
Last year DE Rashad Weaver and DT Keyshon Camp both committed and signed to Pitt on LOI Day itself and that is more common than someone waiting until after LOI Day to make a choice of where to play ball. Back in 2011 WR Josh Brinson signed on with us on April 4th but he was a JUCO transfer.
Basically what this boils down to is by the time the coaching staff is doing their dog and pony show for us fans at Heinz field the evening of signing day it will be ‘what you see is what you get’ for that recruiting class.
◄This is what a verbal commitment looks like. It means almost nothing until we see this – signing the LOI. ▼
From one to the other used to be a smooth road for the coaching staff. Recruits rarely backed off verbal commitments – mostly because their parents and grandparents would kick their ass if they did. Now it is almost like a bidding auction where the recruits shop around for better offers up to, and sometimes including, LOI Day itself.
It wasn’t necessarily better back in the day – I believe these young men should play the ‘risk / reward’ game for as long as possible to get the best chance at the best future they can, whether that be on the football field or off it.
But there is the chance that a recruit gets an offer in his JR high school year let’s say and then in his SR year decides that instead of verballing right away he’ll wait until better offers come in – and sometimes they do.
But sometimes they don’t and by the time the school has filled their recruiting quota at that kid’s position he’ll get a phone call rescinding that offer. Not too problematic if it happens early enough – but if it happens late in the recruiting season that recruit may find that all his good schools are filled up. When that happens he gets stuck somewhere he really didn’t want to be or, in the case of a marginal 3* or a 2* kid, may even be looking at D2 football.
I’ll not sit and wait by the phone to see if Pitt gets any great recruits at this late hour, it could happen but the truth to this point is that Pat Narduzzi has struck out big time in PA this year.
Here is a PA Top 10 list for 2017 compiled by Panther’s Prey Chris Dokish who is very knowledgeable in the recruiting game:
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. GEORGIA
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. PENN STATE
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. MICHIGAN
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. GEORGIA
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. WVU
Folks – read that and weep. Of those Top 10 recruits in PA eight (8!) are from the Pittsburgh area and Narduzzi has landed only one. In his now third year at Pitt, and finishing his second full recruiting class, I don’t think we can point back to Paul Chryst or the past state of the football program and make excuses for this.
Again, this 2017 class is a good class, looks solid and when things unfold we’ll most probably have a star or two and a bunch of starters – but every class produces those. We need to get above and beyond at Pitt.
However, over the past two full recruiting classes, especially this one with all those talent rich players in western PA, Narduzzi’s not lived up to his great recruiter billing he brought with him from MSU. Hard to say why – we are winning more games. But I also think that losing his two bowls games impacts this, especially with the Pinstripe bowl breakdown. We had a real shot at 9 wins and a Top 15 ranking and blew it… well, for a lot of star recruits it is a case of “what have you done lately”.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for some surprise additions over the next 48 hours – late commitments do happen all the time and HC Pat Narduzzi can still strike it rich with a Big Dog or three – which is really what you need to win championships. C’mon Pat!
Here is an excellent Washington Post article regarding how well certain recruiting classes fare. It is “Following the Signs” and details what a recruiting class’ history is ten years later.
Hey – only two days until we get together for Pitt’s LOI Day event and have our own meet and greet at Bettis’ Grille. I have about 15 people counted so far – everyone is welcome even if you aren’t a regular on here. as stated earlier drinks are on me until 5;00 or so – then we’ll troop over to the North Club to see Pitt’s Magical Mystery Show.
Note: Some of you wonderful guys said “The check is in the mail” and they sure were, as were some Patreon donations – so yesterday morning some thank you gifts went out from here to you all. Let me know what you think, and they should be getting to you by tomorrow or the next day.
BTW – one of the first things your money did was replace an old decrepit printer with one that has all the bells and whistles and can do fancy print newsletters – so stay tuned on that count (I got 50% off and a military discount on that!!)
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