We have talked many times about the need for highly rated recruits to build a high-quality nucleus for a successful team. There is no doubt that the longer a HC stays at a school, especially during his first contract, he gets better recruiting opportunities. We saw that with Dave Wannstedt when his recruiting took off after the 13-9 win in Morgantown during the 2007 season.
But recruiting young players isn’t enough and is truly just the beginning. With all the standards, rules and regulations, both internal of the university and external of the NCAA and ACC, it makes a college career into a minefield for a lot of student/athletes. Some thrive at Pitt to become the star players they were projected to be and some fall by the wayside due to either inattention to responsibilities, bad actions, injuries or by just plain being recruited over so they feel they must look for playing time elsewhere.
Just to show how this player attrition works let’s look at who of the 4* and 5* blue-chip players Pitt has landed over the years either left on their own accord or were forced out before their eligibility expired (those who departed the program are in bold):
This is also a good point to review what the lead recruiting site Rivals.com states is their awarding criteria for four and five stars.
Five Stars = 6.1 Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect.
Four Stars = 6.0 – 5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation’s top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
* * * * *
* * * *
|2006||Berry, Dickerson, AA Smith, Malecki, Byham, Collier, Otah|
|2007||Bostick, Wright, Jacobsen, Duhart, McCoy, Tucker|
|2008||Baldwin||Saddler, Chris Burns, Hale, Holley, Nix|
|2009||Thomas, Graham, Mason, Lippert|
|2010||Clemmings, Murphy, Myers|
|2012||Bisnowaty, Voytik, Shell, Rippy|
|2014||Bookser, James, Jennings, Grimm|
|2015||Whitehead, Hall (PC Recruits)
1 of 2 five* left early
19 of 40 four* left early
So in just that small sample we see we lost 48% of those recruits before they expended their full eligibility… and from my research that number holds consistent with just about every recruiting class.
Now, sometimes a player has done so well in college that they can leave the program early for the NFL draft happens as it did with Jon Baldwin, LeSean McCoy and Tyler Boyd. But they are only three players of 20 Pitt kids (out of 42 total recruits) who didn’t give us a full four years and were actually worth the star ranking awarded to them.
The other 17 departures were either academic casualties, disciplinary dismissals, transfers because of lack of playing time or were asked to leave in their 4th year of eligibility as a rsSR.
So that’s who departed the program early therefore cheating us out of the four full years of play.
Now let’s look at the 4* and 5* kids who, in my opinion, didn’t live up to near their recruiting site’s billing after they played at Pitt:
My list of “not 4* producers” would be Collins, Collier, Aaron Smith, Bostick, Tucker, Saddler, Wright, Myers, Murphy, Hale, Lippert, Voytik, Shell, Grisgby, James, and Jennings. That is 16 players right there who, while most did contribute to the team in varying degrees of success, never truly lived up to the 4* hype.
At least I don’t think you can point to any of these listed players in the paragraph above and say they were legitimate “All-American candidates” while at Pitt. Can you?
Which takes us back around to Pat Narduzzi’s recruiting and the players he has landed since he has been the head coach at Pitt.
In the nine years before he came here Pitt averaged 4.7 four and five-star recruits per year (noting that both Hall and Whitehead had committed under Chryst). Since Narduzzi has been recruiting as a HC he has averaged 4.0 which is right in line on average but we hope will get better.
We see that even in this short period of two years of Narduzzi’s recruiting we have already lost one 4* recruit in ATH George Hill , who is out of football for medical reasons, and 4* DB Damar Hamlin – a kid we were counting on for providing immediate help in our defensive secondary who has been sidelined also… and we have no idea if and when he’ll return.
The key then is for Narduzzi to get his staff and position coaches able to wring every last ounce of talent and production out of those prime recruits. Part of that is on the kids themselves – it isn’t enough to want to live up to that lofty billing, they have to do the hard work to make it happen.
In my opinion just as large a part of their success or failure lay on the coaches’ shoulder in being able to put these young kids in a position to succeed to the best of their ability.
We can look at some past Pitt players to see that we has been able to do that and sometimes with outstanding success. For instance Dickerson went from RB to LB to, finally, TE where he thrived; Clemmings from DE to LT; Malecki from DT to OG; Conner from DE to RB; O’Neill from TE to LT, etc… And aren’t we hoping that Elijah Zeise will do the same in his switch from WR to OLB?
That too is part and parcel of good coaching but still all of that only garnered us a 57% winning record in that full decade.
So what is the upshot here? Well, it is evident that a program has to recruit Blue-Chip kids to grab as much talent per scholarship they can. “Per scholarship” is the key here. Regardless of true math two 2* players do not always equal one successful 4* stud. The more 4* and 5* players you have on roster the more room you have for other lesser rated kids.
Keep doing that and the more chance Pitt will have at winning games.
Contrary to a lot of football fan’s belief the more 4* and 5* choirboys you have on roster the better chance you have at keeping their superior talent at hand. We just saw that in the table above. What real good did recruiting Rushel Shell and Tra’von Chapman do for us when we had to cut them loose later on?
Those kids have to have the character and the coaching to 1) be able to stay in school and 2) be surrounded by the leadership and positive peer pressure to stay at Pitt and thrive.
Pat Narduzzi may have that part of the recruiting process well in hand. His players have kept their noses clean and we haven’t heard any negative things arise with the players who committed to Pitt while he has been our HC. He’s had to discipline some players – Boyd, Blair and Taleni are the three he’s had to deal with in terms of off the field issues, but his is an excellent track record so far.
Get the blue chippers and then work your ass off to keep them ready and able to contribute. That way we’ll see those seven 4* kids listed above bring us wins in the near future and for their full four years of play with the Panthers.
FOR WEDNESDAY’S ROUNDTABLE CALL-IN…
I’ve had to switch our regular Tuesday evening Roundtable Call-In show to Wednesday evenings for the next month or so due to an obligation I just incurred which will take up my Tuesday evenings. I hope we’ll still get the great participation we’ve had in the past.
So on Wednesday, 5/3/17, we’ll take the first three or four callers starting at 7:50 pm (make it about 5 minutes early to login) for the recording to start at 8:00.
Here is the info to get into the Bluejeans Roundtable meeting…
????????? (this changes for each meeting – I’ll have the real one in a posted comment around 7:45 tonight.)
Enter audio code on your phone
XXXXXXX – (this changes for each meeting – I’ll have the real one in a comment around 7:45 tonight.)
SEE YOU IN TWO DAYS AT AROUND 7:45 OR SO…. Here are some items we’ll discuss:
Some Round Table Questions
- Where did you grow up and what HS did you attend?
- How did you first become interested in Pitt Football?
- What is your strongest Pitt football memory – positive and negative
- those that did not attend the university, but reside in Pittsburgh are a big part of Pitt’s support. I think attendance would improve if they could reel in others like that also. So how is this best done? Well, winning is one thing and possibly the only thing. What else?
- If the defense gets off to a real bad start, would you fire Conklin mid-season or before?
- How much do uniforms matter to you?
- Do you visit the Oakland campus at all and what changes would you make there?
- Do you miss PITT stadium at all?
- How would you improve the student participation?
- Who are your 5 or 3 all-time PITT favorite players?
- What three (3) BIG items of discussion will we be having after the season ends about what transpired during the 2017 season?
- Ask Callers to show off their best Pitt souvenirs and memorabilia…