2017’s LBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the seventh of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

Here the lineup going into 2017 less true freshman who aren’t on the roster yet…

23 Oluwaseun Idowu 6-0/215 RS JR
25 Elijah Zeise 6-2/230 RS JR
28 Anthony McKee Jr. 6-2/210 RS SO
36 Chase Pine 6-2/240 RS FR
39 Saleem Brightwell 6-0/210 RS SO
41 Jalen Williams 6-2/215 RS JR
44 Elias Reynolds 6-2/225 RS FR
48 Peyton Deri 6-1/205 RS FR
51 Jim Medure 6-2/220 RS SO
53 Brian Popp 6-0/235 RS JR
58 Quintin Wirginis 6-2/240 SR

In many ways you can say our linebackers were between a rock and a hard place last season being stuck right between our DL who did a good job at what they were tasked to do and our defense backs who didn’t.

The nature of Narduzzi’s defense is that Pitt is going to pack the box in almost any offensive scenario so our LBs are positioned just off the LOS for run support.  On passing plays we have the OLBs maintain ‘inside leverage’ to force the short passes into the middle of the defense.

With that our DBs were trusted to go handle the passing game ‘out on an island’ with the safeties having an options to pick up receivers when they felt it right to do so (basically when it was apparent run support from them wasn’t needed).

At least that was the defensive theory going into and through 2016’s 13 games. While the common belief is that Narduzzi has his way of playing defense and our DC Josh Conklin just genuflects and gets on with trying to make it happen, logic would say that because of the almost complete breakdown of our defensive game last year it would mandate changes.

What we saw was a terrible pass defense that lost us games that we could have and should have won. I don’t think anyone is going to argue with that statement – no matter how good some of our opponents QB and WRs were.

But – Narduzzi seems to be confident that what worked so well for him at Michigan State will do the same here so Vegas money says we’ll see the same approach to defense this season as last. 

Well, if Narduzzi isn’t going to change the fundamental tenets of the defense at least he can change, or is forced to change, the personnel. We’ll see that happen by dint of graduation this season in the LB corps.  Three-year starter and leading tackler “Mike” (Middle) MLB Matt Galambos is gone as is his mate, the two-year starter at “Money” LB, Mike Caprara.

Playing alongside those two for almost the whole season was ex-walk on now rsJR Oluwaseun (Sean) Idowu who quietly built up quite a resume’ as Pitt’s 3rd leading tackler with 74 total tackles from the Star LB position over the TE as the pass rushing LB.  He’ll be the sole returning LB starter for 2017.

Idowu’s is an interesting case as he wasn’t awarded a scholarship until right before last season began then he repaid that with a fine showing in his first year as a starter jumping over the heir apparent SR Bam Bradley to do so and logging 12 starts in the process:

Played in all 13 games, starting the final 12 contests at Star linebacker…finished third on the team with 74 tackles and added two TFLs and two forced fumbles…had a career-high 10 tackles at Clemson…notched seven stops in three separate games (Marshall, Miami and Syracuse)…had six tackles and a forced fumble against Penn State.

Here is a statistical listing for the returning LBs:

2016 lb stats.png

As you can see we are going to be replacing two LBs with a ton of experience, Galambos and Caprara, with players who got some playing time but had very little games started.  However, given the fact that our defense’s play was so poor that might not be a bad thing as it is readily apparent we will fill those position with more speed.

I think we can assume two things about 2017’s LB corps; first is that 6’2″ & 240 lbs  SR Quentin Wirginis, who has played in every game over the last three years, is going to replace Galambos at the Mike LB spot. The second is that rsSO Saleem Brightwell, who played well in the two-deep and finished with two starts, will be fleeting up to replace Caprara at Money LB.

Let’s address Wirginis first as his is a case of fans’ thinking ‘Why was he behind Galambos’ all that time?”  Well, it basically had to do with defensive Field Generalship which Galambos excelled at.  He was an adept leader on the field and had enough football smarts and anticipatory skills to make up for his lack of quicks… in some ways.  Sometimes no matter what jump he got on the ball carrier he was just too slow to get him down at or near the LOS.

I think the bottom line is that Narduzzi has shown us here at Pitt that he values solid experience over raw talent in almost every instance and as such Galambos kept his starting position over the last two years.

But Wirginis is also very physically talented and has real acceleration from the standing position as shown by his 4.5 TFLs in his limited playing time.  He’ll rack up sacks and TFLs by the handfuls and we’ll be extremely happy with his play out of the Mike position this season.

Here is an older article that describes what his first camp at Pitt was like… notice everyone commenting on his speed.

Next to him will be a rather small rsSO Saleem Brightwell who at 6’0″ and 210 lbs (15 lbs less than Caprara)  isn’t going to scare any offensive linemen.  But he’s quick as hell also and will bring the speed that Caprara didn’t have to the Money slot.  See a trend going on here?

Those two, along with returnee Idowu, will be a distinct upgrade in speed across the LB board.

Another name to consider who will fight for that Star LB gig is converted WR Elijah Ziese. I know some fans are really high on Ziese given his good fall camp after his switch in positions during last year’s off-season but there is a bit of a twist here.  I wouldn’t automatically assume he’ll be the starter over Idowu just because he had the starting nod going into the YSU opener last year.

You have to remember that was before Narduzzi and Conklin could see what Idowu could do in actual game situations. The bottom line here is that Idowu is a successful starting LB while Ziese isn’t.  So I don’t think we can assume what was supposed to happen in the beginning of last season will carry over to 2017.

But that also begs the question “Did Idowu play so well he can’t be sat down?” and the answer to that is no, he didn’t.  But then again I don’t think any defender last season, save Ejuan Price, played so well they couldn’t lose their starting job the next year – Whitehead included.

The names rsFR Chase Pine and rsSO Anthony McKee, who didn’t see any playing time as a rsFR last year, are bandied about also but I don’t think they will see starting time – but will definitely be in on the two-deep this year.

All in all I feel that while expereience and smart decision making is important, especially for linebackers, we will be putting more all-around speed and athleticism out on the field this season in Wirginis, Brightwell and Idowu.

UPGRADE

 

Note:  Roundtable Call-in at 8:00 tonight – I’ll set details down in a comment around 7:30 pm or so…

Here is an interesting look at recruiting regarding Pine’s dalliance with Notre Dame.

 

102 thoughts on “2017’s LBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

  1. This is another situation where stats are not at all indicative of actual Game-Impact:

    Oluwaseun Idowu —- If you, or any other Pitt fan can bring-up an actual football play in any Pitt game where he made even the slightest positive impact — then I would say that would make you a Genius/Scholar, but it would make you a fibber .

    Solo Tackles and Tackles-For-Loss are the REAL stats that help measure if a Linebacker actually impacts the game. I would bet everything that 70 of Iowu’s “74” tackles were “assissted tackles”. So Idowu happened to be two-hand touching the ball carrier, or attempting to rip-out their flags while other Pitt players were tackling him.

    Idowu’s “solo tackles” consisted of him diving at a ball carrier’s legs and luckily bringing him down 20 yards downfield.

    Started 12 games — because Zeise started game 1 ‘techinically’ — and had TWO tackles for loss playing every single down all season at OLB.

    Again — “assisted tackles for loss” probably because I never saw one single “solo” play made by Idowu.

    He is going to be a great special teams contributor, no doubt: But Oduwu may only ever play a few clean-up snaps at OLB the rest of his career.

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    1. The stat is right on the page. Whether your eye test allows you to accept it is another matter.

      Idowu was credited with 38 solo tackles last season. A close second to Galambos among LBs.

      IMO the LB position will be an upgrade this season with the speed and athleticism (agree wwb) added across the board. Witness Wirginis and Brightwell doing so relatively well with TFLs and sacks over the starters.

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  2. https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2015/anthony-mckee-5611

    ^^ Anthony Mckee Jr. is also a complete wild-card to throw into the mix.

    Oklahoma / Tennessee/ WVU / Wisconsin / Michigan State / Arkansas offers….really undersized at only 210 lbs, but has great LB length at 6’2” and was a very fast and athletic Safety in High school.

    I assume honestly that he must have been injured / disciplined / or maybe both last year because he did not play in any games as an eligible RS Freshman.

    Was asked about often but Narduzzi would just deflect —> “He’s improving” / “He’s coming along well” etc.

    Saleem Brightwell listed at 210 seems like it’s just not an updated weight. He’s not very tall, so for his very quick playing style if he can carry 220-225 that would be great size. Never know how much he may weigh-in at in a couple months, after a summer full of pumping the weights and Nutrition.

    🙂 Hail to Pitt

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  3. Galambos’s experience will be missed, and that’s it. Like the DB position, this is an Upgrade since, if nothing else, it can’t be much worse. And also like the DB position, there will be much more speed at these positions, which make up for a lot of sins

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  4. What if “Across from Price, Dwayne Hendrick was suppose to knock ’em dead”. Losing Hendrick probably cost 2-games last year. Teams rolled the pocket away from Price because there was no “presence” on the other end. Who replaces Price this year and can Hendricks stay healthy? One player can upgrade a defense, linebackers, defensive backfield. What if?

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  5. Idowu racked up a lot of tackles due to the nature of the position he played. Several of the breakdowns in defense last season fell on his shoulders though. Ideally, a walk-on is not starting next season. A player with his experience is definitely an upgrade for depth. Plus, Zeis was one of the guys that Duzz went out of his way to say how good he looked in the spring and how much muscle he added. I doubt he starts.

    Duzz has his red shirts available now. Expect them to push out some of the legacy players ahead of them. It’s the nature of the beast with a new coach. Duzz is going to want his players, who were specifically recruited for this system, on the field. That’s the nature of the Beast with a new coach … especially a coach with a defense as poor as Pitt’s was last season. Experience isn’t going to help anyone.

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  6. I call it a draw on just the lack of experience. The speed from the newcomers should help us greatly. But the added speed will only help if they are not out position consistently to make the play.

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  7. And as far as “wild cards” go, I see Chase Pine ahead of McKee simply because of his bigger frame & size.
    Actually both will be needed to contribute, especially if an injury or two occur to our LB Corps.

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  8. Remember, this is not a complicated defense. It looked complicated because of the lack of talent (and speed) in the lineup. The lack of speed, often times, is reason for players being out of position. The slower you are the more likely you are to take a wrong angle or not get to your spot in time. Fix that and a lot of the “out of position” issues is already solved. It’s the defense version of the spread. It’s easy when you have the right players but a mess if you don’t.

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  9. First off I agree with TT when he said Idowu was doing his job. To me it did look like he was doing pretty good. That part of the game, I’ll leave it to the guys (like Reed) to decide just irreplaceable he is. Oh that’s right he just did.

    Idowu did prove he was better than anyone else after Zeise went down. I think? As DK commented about McKee, why didn’t he play ahead of Idowu? Probably didn’t know the position I’m guessing?

    I did have higher hopes for Matt Galambos though. Thought he would put a lite McKillops type year together. Lack of speed was his biggest hurdle to overcome and the fact he couldn’t jump over a hurdle was one as well. Hate to be critical but he also took poor angles on the while misjudging the opponents speed and his at the same time.

    Wirginis will be a big upgrade this year with speed and better angles to the ball.

    Brightwell has to play for practically winning the Clemson game for PITT but if someone beats him put? All that much better. I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot of Pine cones on the field this year!

    Zeise will be plain better than Idowu but I like the depth at this spot.

    Jalen Williams could be a sleeper down the road or even this year but the guy I really like and I have said on the POV a few times before…Elias Reynolds. Problem is I think he plays the same position (Mike) as Pine?

    If for no other reason concerning this unit, the D-Backs could make them better alone If the new L-Backers can be giving the time to actually drop into coverage and get off the line of scrimmage with their improved speed along with an improved defensive backfield this unit will be a nice……….

    …………………..UPGRADE!! ………ike

    We All We Got
    We All We Need
    H2P!

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  10. Excluding freshmen Reed’s list has four walk-ons and one of them a starter. Yawn. Dark One back on your meds – betting 70 of his tackles were assisted – read the char, 38 were unassisted. I am not a huge Sean nut eithert. Hope some of these guys put on muscle as 210 is a strong safety. Downgrade mainly because of inexperience, possibly a draw or upgrade by the end of the year. A developing year.

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  11. Two questions I want answered in tonight’s roundtable: Who was the girl? And why was there a link to a Dokish Panther Prey Blog from a 2015 article on Pa. top 2016recruits on the bottom of Reeds A POV PCA post.

    Looking forward to the round table discussion. Please join.

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  12. Hey guy’s, think about coming onto the round-table this evening at 8:00. I may be late if at all. Although I can come on in a few minutes to test if you would like Reed or anyone else.

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  13. RKB,
    I agree: downgrade.
    There is no one with any skills that ‘pop.’ A bunch of interchangeable Joes.
    We talk about the db’s lacking skill, but I don’t see much optimism with this gang.

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  14. Quentin certainly looks the part and I think he’ll be an upgrade. The other two guys, I agree with Gas, probably not much of a change. Seems like the more talented guys are all freshman or red shirt freshman who probably aren’t quite ready to have an impact yet, but we can hope.

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  15. I can’t see how they can be any worse, than the last four years. Narduzzi’s recruits better make an impact this year, either starting or coming off the bench. If not, we are in for a long season.

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  16. Push, to a slight upgrade. I disagree that Narduzzi puts a higher value on experience over raw talent. I think Narduzzi promotes competition at every position regardless of incumbent and that will pay-off as we get deeper in talent. He puts the best overall players out there. I like the speed of the backers. I don’t like their susceptibility to injury because we are thin in numbers and physique.

    That said, the talent level seems better to me. Remains to be seen if they get it mentally and I think that was the reason Wirginis finished second to Galambos and Caprara the last few years. If we can limit the mental errors in the group, I give a big upgrade because of the athleticism.

    I think Idowu’s position is in most jeopardy. I like him, just don’t love him at that position. He did well in an area of improvement, but I think the new talent overtakes him.

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  17. #LostFaith in the posters here —–

    Matt Caprera lol and Matt Galambos are starters — then any / every actual discerning Pitt Supporter knows that SOMEHOW, Oluwaseun Idowu could somehow manage to be the Least Effective of that entire group……..

    Lol @Reed posting stats of Oluwaseun Idowu and saying how he’s a returning starter blah-blah-blah????

    I don’t think many even comprehend Foos-Ball on here Oh-My-Gosh / aka OMG yikes —- NONSENSE 😦 😦

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    1. I focused-in closely on many occasions on the LB’ers just to see how LITTLE they did ——-

      Caprara played his little (Get OUTTA HERE REED HE’S NOT 225 JUST LOOK DANG) heart-out.

      Matt Galambos —- just, SO DANG SLOW — tried kinda hard but he was slow, and took bad…no HORRIFIC, angles = ANGER

      HAHAHA — #Reed your comments on Idowu show you just skip-over Defense, like a teenager playing the Madden vidoe game 🙂 🙂

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  18. The way I SEE IT Pitt has been THE MOST OVER-ACHIEVING FOOTBALL PROGRAM in the entire country. LB”s are a big-passion of mine and Pitt had ZERO (at least ‘starting’).

    LOL — Matt Galambos????? Matt Caprara?? They did not handle business = PERIOD.

    🙂 🙂 hahaha —– Oduwu??? Pat Narduzzi just said, “Forget 2016 — 2017 is the year I Blow-It-Up.” 🙂

    This article is so ridiculous ——- If comprehend Foos-Ball and what all 11 players are doing on the field at any given-point — and you do not comprehend that that one dude Oduwi did NOTHING, EVER —- you don’t really understand what’s going on in the field of play ever hahaha.

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  19. The red shirts are coming! The red shirts are coming! By mid season I think Chase Pine and Elias Reynolds will be starting. Sorry, but Wirginnis should have played more by now and may be having trouble with the mental aspects of the defense. Once the red shirts become established starters, the lb unit will be an upgrade imo.

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  20. @ grizzly1, yeah, the Red Shirts are coming but you have the wrong position. The secondary gets a big infusion of red shirts for this season. Paris Ford even sees the field this season, if he is ready to handle stepping up to the big time.

    That upgrade in talent in the secondary makes the LB position look better. When you’re a LB & you’re confident the guy behind you has got your back you just naturally play better. Less indecision & more confident play makes for a faster linebacker.

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  21. Pitt needs linebackers with a linebacker mentality, think HB Blades or Clint Sessions. Haven’t seen much of that lately. Hoping Pine and Reynolds bring an abundance of it.

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  22. ……..I think Anthony Mckee Jr. was held-back last year by Pat Narduzzi as a RS Freshman because of an Injury —–

    I think Saleem Brightwell (let’s be real — he’s 5’10” maybe, but tons of NFL LB’s are his height) shows up to Fall camp at 220 and keeps that weight til’ he goes to the NFL — and I think Anthony Mckee comes outta NOWHERE here at Pitt as a 215-220 pound super-fast OLB and makes SPLASH plays this year.

    What’s funny is that I am NOT putting any investment into Quinten Wirginess unforunately at this moment—> I think he is a remnant of the “Chryst Regime”. He is a good-sized young person, but he cannot stay healthy and with-stand the ferocious rigors of the season 😦 .

    I think it’s: Saleem Brightwell, Chase Pine, and Anthony Mckee pretty soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I really mean —- I want Quinten Wirginess to be a great NFL-Quality LB —- but I do not think at the moment he is TOUGH ENOUGH and he needs to step-up his ‘Attitude’ Big-Time!!!

      He’s a Patrick Willis / WAY BIGGER Ray Lewis crazy-abilty young man but he does not have have the attitude that simple.

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  23. I keep hearing about this upgrade in talent with Narduzzi’s recruiting. Isn’t it about time we see it on the field. Aren’t any of these guys tough enough to push an upper classman out of the way.I equate Galambos to Sunseri, played four years, had a few good games, but never really lived up to expectations. Wirginis wasn’t good enough to push him out of the way.

    I hope that the young guys, Pine Mckee and Reynolds join Brightwell on the field sooner rather than later.

    And that they are actually good enough to push someone backwards instead of tackling from behind. Also good enough to cover tightends and break up passes. Multiple sacks and TFLs would be something new as well.

    How about making a stop on third and especially fourth down plays, far too few last year.

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    1. That last paragraph reads volumes into the final results of last year. Key stops/interceptions spelled a couple of our best victories in years. Then we have defeats like UNC,,,,,,WTF?????

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  24. I see alot of “pop” with this group actually. Chase Pine has been raved about by everyone in the program, brightwell is as fast as a LB as we have seen here in a long time, it took Mike Williams 40 yards to run him down (barely) after his watson pick. Zeise is a bulked up former WR. Mckee was a highly sought after guy that was gonna need time to put on some weight. Idowu never stood out to me but i know PFF ranked him highly.

    Not sure if they will be ready early in the season but this will be a fun group by mid season and definitely in to next year

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  25. http://247sports.com/Recruitment/Chase-Pine-82656/RecruitInterests — Beat Kirby Smart @Georgia and Virginia Tech for him 🙂 🙂 he’s a legit NFL-Sized Middle Linebacker and he’s 245-250

    ^^^ Now this young man HIT THE WEIGHTS —-

    Pat Narduzzi personally-noted that he got to 240 —

    HE’S THE #2 MIDDLE LINEBACKER —-

    So —– Quinten Wirginnis better step up his game because youngin’s are crashin’ the gates….

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  26. P.S. —

    #MaxBrowneLastStop —-> USC fans are doubting him hard — so, we’ll see if he achieves his potential here at Pitt of fails….

    USC fans —– “Dude rode a Scooter around Campus, then Suced balls when he played, then Sam Darnold stepped up!!!*

    —- What you gonna do at Pitt Max Browne???? 🙂 🙂 lol

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    1. And appropriately —- **Quadree Henderson catch some dang footballs too on pass plays.

      “Qadree Ollison run the ball again what the heck was going on in 2016? You also looked like Rosie O’Donnell when you did ge the ball. Regardless of “Politcal Offiliation”, I was about to tweet like Donald Trump at you for eating too much and obviously not ‘working out’ enough ‘Bro’.

      #HailToPitt!!!

      And yes — I think Quintin Wirginis could be big-time — but I just don’t think his heart is “in-the-game.”

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  27. @Dark -Throwing shade is crazy. I think most of the last15 posts are saying the same thing differently.

    Idowu is in trouble of losing his slot. That is good news. It means the replacements are better, which means…an upgrade. Wirginis had the most experience of the returners. He is big and he is fast. To me, he is also reckless with his body and tackling form. Those attributes land you in the ice tub, a lot, so I see him starting but not making it past game 4 or 5 without missing games.

    That leaves Pine, McKee and Brightwell on the “available” list of kids on the roster now. Speed personified. That said, I am wondering if Henry Miller has bulked up enough to play OLB. Always liked his size. I also expect Albert Tucker to be in the mix as he transitions from DB to OLB, but I can’t talk about him because he falls outside the scope.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. If I’m believing what I’m reading and I do, PITT’s defense should be in really good shape in the seasons to come. Maybe just not this year?

    Reed, what became of the round-table last night. Sounded like Timothy Leary handed out some LSD when I joined in? …. and the look in your eyes I thought you were going to pull out your hair. LOL

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  29. Here’s an interesting tidbit about the offense. We all know that losing Peterman, Conner and a couple good O-Lineman along with Orndoff will slow down the offense but….. PITT is the only team in the country that return 3 players with at least 10 TD’s

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  30. Will be a definite upgrade due to more athletic players having the ability to get to the ball and make plays.

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  31. IMO we have not recruited well at the LB (prior to Duzz) going back to Scott McKillop.

    We need impact players at all 3 LB-er spots and I believe they are currently on campus at Pitt.

    I’m calling this a draw until I see results on the field. I like what so saw with Brightwell & Wirginis. Idowu was ok – but we need better.

    Pine, McKee and Zeise will get their fair shot to start – no position is secured yet IMO.

    Nor should it be based on performance I have witnessed.

    HTP!

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    1. if it weren’t for injuries, our LBs for 2011 would have been

      OLB – Max Gruder: (don’t laugh) his final 3 year tackle totals were 84, 91 and 116

      MLB – Dan Mason: in 09 as a natural frosh, he had to play for an injured McKillop vs Navy, and had 17 tackles. He of course had that devastating injury early in 2010 vs Miami where he was out for two years.

      OLB – Todd Thomas: in 011, he began years as a RsFr at OLB and was getting PittBlather all excited until .. you guessed it .. a knee injury. He had some good numbers in the following years but it seemed he lost a step

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  32. Nine weeks till show and tell, then we will know what we have. Till then it’s like Forest Gump said ” it’s like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get till you reach in and pull one out” H2P

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  33. From PGH Sports Now. The Pitt B ball lineup as it stands. That is a small lineup.
    I will predict that Pitt ends up with guards out of that list better than we have seen in a long time.

    Ryan Luther (6-9, 225) Forward
    Jonathan Milligan (6-2, 170) Guard
    Marcus Carr (6-2, 160) Guard
    Terrell Brown (6-9, 225) Forward
    Shamiel Stevenson (6-5, 190) Guard/Forward
    Peace Illegomah (6-10) Center
    Khameron Davis (6-4, 190) Guard/Forward
    Jared Wilson-Frame (6-5, 230) Forward
    Monty Boykins (6-5) Guard
    **Malik Ellison, transfer from St. John’s, will be eligible in 2018, (6-6, 200) Guard
    Parker Stewart (6-4, 175) Guard
    Zach Smith (6-3, 200) Guard
    **Bryce Golden, 2018 verbal commitment, (6-8, 220) Forward

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    1. no doubt the team will struggle this year …. but no excuse for following year (not saying a Top 25 team, but they should be competitive in ACC and have an overall winning record

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      1. Can’t agree with that. I will be surprised if this team struggles. I expect a slow start and won’t be too disheartened with a 1-2 start going into the GT game.

        This team will learn on the job this season. Quick learners earn a 9-4 record. Slow learners more like 7-6, but even that’s far from struggling. Drop below .500, say 5-7 and then we’re struggling.

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    2. Not sure how this is relevant to the topic but it’s not the first time.

      So the guards on this list will be better than James Robinson? The typical KS supporter narrative is that the loss of James Robinson was the major factor in the precipitous fall last season.

      I am curious, who was the last “benchmark” Pitt guard?

      RS Senior Jonathan Milligan was on the roster last season and played very intermittently under KS.

      Zach Smith is a former walk-on and RS Junior that KS very rarely played last season.

      Carr is the highest rated recruit. He is obviously short and thin. He is not considered a great shooter. This mix could prove challenging in the ACC.

      Stevenson is considered to be a poor shooter and at 6-5 I am guessing he is not a ball handler. His acknowledged recruiting strength is athleticism.

      Boykins is a shooting guard who shot 36% from 3 in the one season that he had more than 100 attempts. Johnson, Artis and Young had more than 100 attempts for Pitt last season and respectively hit for 42%, 39% and 34%. Boykins has never shot better than 38% from the field. He has more turnovers than assists for his career. He played his 4-year career in a losing program at Lafayette in the Patriot League. It will be interesting to see him perform in the ACC.

      Khameron Davis is rated as a 2-star player. Granted players develop differently but Chris Jones was a 2-3 star player with a similar build as a freshman. Seemingly many Pitt fans (I am not one) do not consider Chris Jones to have been an ACC level player.

      Ellison played two years for a losing program at St. John’s. He reportedly sought a transfer because he appeared to be sliding to 4th guard on the depth chart. Ellison shot 34% from 3 last season. He shot 60% from the FT line. He has averaged slightly more assists than turnovers.

      I know Wilson-Frame is not identified as a guard on the list, but some consider him a candidate. WF played two years of JUCO for a very good team. He shot 37% from 3 and 41% overall last season. He averaged slightly more assists than turnovers. It will be interesting to see how that translates to the ACC.

      The truly intriguing one for me is Stewart who is a 3-star, has a shooting reputation, good size and a reasonably good list of offers.

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      1. Carr is a 4-star in Rivals so he must have some talent. My understanding is Wilson-Frame can play either the 3 or 4. He is a JUCO and probably more developed than the others.

        Again, I expect very little this coming year but this team should start being competitive the following year. While many of these guys would redshirt on other teams, the PT they get this year will hopefully expedite their development

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  34. JR was not a good PG and his leaving was not the reason the team stunk last year.

    I am not saying any of the new players will be great or good next year. I am saying eventually they will be.

    Take a look at the stats of any freshman PG Pitt has had recently, there is nothing spectacular. Again, the bar is set low. Unless someone is escaping my memory.

    KS has recruited a 4 star and a bunch of three stars. Essentially the same as Dixon. So at a minimum, they will most likely be as good as what we have seen. I think they will be better.

    My picks are Marcus Carr at PG and Stewart at shooting G.

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  35. I said before that Pitt has not recruited a decent ACC level point guard since James Robinson. That’s over a 5 year period, which is why I’m so down on Jamie Dixon. The man couldn’t recruit, and he lost his assistants who could. Pitt still needs a big man badly.

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  36. Barvo – Thanks for reality…. This team is an embarrassment. Program is an embarrassment. Coach is an abortion of a coach. These players are Mac ish. 3k to 5k per game. Wright State would kick this Rockport Gypsy’s Tail. Funny to those that still love Stallings.

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  37. As for linebackers, the country is flooded with linebackers, mostly of average talent. Average or “between” players with no particular skills usually get placed at linebacker in high school to fill a need. (a similar example at the college level is Zeise- he may turn out to be okay, but we shouldn’t count on it) This is a position where the talent has to be clearly evident in high school and the 4 star rating is more valuable.

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  38. The Pro-Am summer league has been cancelled this year. Figures … if there ever was a year when a team needed PT as a unit, this would be it

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  39. How are the new players MACish. They are the same level Dixon won with in the BE.

    I totally agree ripping KS for his career performance and last years debacle but you can’t rip on players you have never seen play that are the same level as what Pitt has recruited in the past and won with.

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  40. notrocket – they are not the same level. That’s a misnomer. Jaime consistently had top 100 recruits in the program. His downfall was the lack of top 50 recruits.

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  41. Keeping with the topic of LB-ers but going against Reed’s rule of not including incoming FR –

    I’m intrigued by Cam Bright – played at a high level school in Alabama that made a deep run in the state playoffs – his HS stats indicate he is a playmaker.

    Speaking of ‘Bama – I’m sorry to see Robert Foster was hurt on his dirt bike – required 27 stitches in his back and a few on his wrist. Not supposed to missed any “football” time.

    Things that make you go hmmmm…

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  42. It’s going to be very hard to get good basketball news after the wholesale exodus of players from last season. Every coach recruiting against Pitt just has to replay some of KS after game news conferences to help discourage any recruit from committing to Pitt.

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  43. Tossing

    Dixon signed 16 players between 2005 and 2013 ranked in Scout’s top 100. KS has one this year. I wouldn’t call that a slam dunk that Dixon recruited better.

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  44. To be clear, I am not a KS fan. I just don’t bash recruits because I hate the coach. Some of these kids will end up good players for Pitt.

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  45. Notrocket – that’s not a bad percentage considering his class sizes. 0/6 is bad.

    Stallings 2017 recruits and rank:

    Carr: 137
    Brown: 314
    Peace: 259
    Shamiel: 263
    Stewart: 274
    Wison-Frame: Top 10 Juco but not top 100 coming out of school.

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  46. Got it. Not bashing the kids either. I have my doubts they’re ACC caliber though. I’ll be watching and rooting for Pitt this year despite Stallings.

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  47. The difference was the JD could recruit top 100 players and turn them into top 250 talents. Just kidding. You all teed that one up from distance and I took the shot! Clunk or swish?

    IT’s too early for Stallings. So if Tossing is correct, Jamie had 16 top 100 or so recruits in 8 years. Stallings has 1 top 100 ish recruit in year 1. It’s all in development.

    Should Narduzzi and Watson spend time with Jurkovec this year? Rumor is that Kelly is on the double triple secret probation hot seat and is looking to skip town! Seriously, if he struggles, he will be gone quicker then I can pronounce Upitt’s Estonia bride to be’s name. Just kidding Upitt. You are my boyeeee! Congrats on the marriage. Second time works better. Expectations are lower! lol

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  48. Way behind on reading the POV – too much going on…

    On the LBs, loved Caprara’s head and heart, but not so much his wheels. I remember watching Barkley running a wheel-route pattern and Caprara was attempting to cover him. I knew we were doomed and it was touchdown UPS. Why UPS didn’t take more advantage of that matchup is a mystery – but I’m happy about it.

    So who will try to cover Barkley on the wheel-route this season?? Not that it would be an easy assignment for anyone…

    Go Pitt.

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  49. Hating on people you don’t know or have never met is sad…. Stallings is trying to feed his family like all of us…

    Zeise has Barkley covered if neither one gets hurt their first game.

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    1. How about a hybrid D with J.Whitehead covering the RB out of the backfield? – speed on speed

      That gets three safeties on the field / Hamlin & P.Ford as the other two.

      HTP!

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  50. Reed I agree that Wirginis is a first class athlete but although it might be my imagination it seems to me that Wirginis on numerous occasions over the past three years was deemed incapable of playing due to injury in the pregame reports. I doubt there are records kept on this but IMO based on his past he may have a season of missing several games due to injury. I don’t believe he will play in more than three straight games due to injury – sort of the problem Hamlin has had so far. If this is the case who would you expect to start? Pine?
    HAIL TO PITT

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  51. imo I think some are really underestimating the talent Narduzzi is bringing in. That said, once again this could be another year of the continuing transition from the dark years of “the steve” and the coaching changes fiasco’s.

    The key players this year for PITT over-all are………………….. Wirginis/Browne. So go these two so go the entire PITT team. Weah can’t throw himself a pass and Henderson can’t call the right play to make a jet sweep work. The same as Wirgins can only call the right plays and make the sure tackle at the most important position on the field for the defense.

    Sure Whitehead and all the D-backs have to improve and the running backs have to gain yards on their own when the O-Line hasn’t opened up a big running lane etc etc… but it will come down to the decision making that makes or breaks the PITT upcoming season…

    Over-all athleticism will be up big time while experience will be down. Narduzzi’s head coaching better be up and I expect it will. (with Partridge) Youth will prevail over the losses from last season but only with the help of great leadership. imo.. ike

    H2P!

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  52. LOL IkE. Feeding his family with 3M a year is stealing. His players suck. He sucks. He is a cancer. Not rocket is Mrs. Stallings. His recruits are Mac ish and he won’t win 13 games next year. I’m taking bets. Not Rocket? Put some money up for this lifetime nobody we pay 3 m to.

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  53. Now 13 wins instead of 12? Hedging a bit huh Upitt. If you could make 3 million and only be worth whatever, I guess you would turn that down?

    Look, you don’t like him but he’s coached major college basketball for 20 years or more. It’s asking a lot but you should lighten up and give him his due. Then again, I’m sure he really doesn’t care what you or I think…

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  54. UPitt,
    The POV would sure be a lot less colorful if you weren’t a Povite! Thanks for commenting and hope the new marriage goes well. I suspect if it does you may slowly become a bit less cynical. A wonderful woman can do that for ya buddy! :>)

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  55. What is the over/under on Upitt posting something positive in nature in the next year?

    Vegas has it at 2 posts. 🙂

    I think 13 to 15 wins is about right for a team that is mostly freshman. Pitt isn’t recruiting one and dones. Never will unless a Steve Adams falls in their lap again.

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    1. Where do you get those 13 to 15 BB wins? Serious question –

      The non-conference games will be more challenging and there probably won’t be more than 2 or 3 wins in the ACC to steal.

      I see a realistic 9 or 10 win season as a high water mark.

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  56. Since I don’t subscribe to Rivals, I don’t know the reason for Paris Ford’s enrollment …. but I suspect a clearinghouse issue due to the fact he played for 3 different high schools the past 3 years. I assume he could still be eligible for the fall term .. but this kind of disturbing.

    Last year’s two top defensive recruits didn’t contribute … one of them will never do so on the field. And Pitt could have used both last year

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  57. wwb, you beat me to it. Don’t want to overreact because Ford still may enroll in August, but WTF!

    Pitt never seems to be able to catch a break. Last year two heart issues and a hernia, now another superstar with some kind of issue.

    Reed, you ought to do an article called a day late and a dollar short and list all of Pitt’s close but no cigar phenomena. Rod Brookins comes to mind. Cavanaugh’s broken arm etc. Adams leaves early. Mason’s injury.

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  58. I still don’t understand why Pitt decided to keep a lid on Spring practice. Isn’t it obvious that letting people see the new QB and perhaps show some running backs breaking runs would help sell tickets and increase enthusiasm for the Fall season? They just make one bad decision after another. I would like to see if Browne has an arm and a few plays where he airs it out would look good on the news every so often to whet the appetite. But no, the dead head Pitt AD department cannot persuade the Duzz that a little occasional publicity over the summer just might put a few more fannies in the seats. I guess what they are planning is all a big secret!

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    1. Nothing will increase attendance other than maybe winning a lot. I vote for maintaining secrecy a la last year re jet sweeps. No jet sweeps last year we lose to PSU by two touchdowns at least.

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  59. Well one reason beat psu last year was the element of surprise. Jet sweeps and a hand clapping defense but I get it for the spring practices. Narduzzi needs to lighten up every now and again..

    Hey as Reed reminds me, today is the POV’s birthday!! Happy Birthday POV Reed and all yinz other guys……ike

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  60. Reed, maybe you could write an article on the POV Birthday? We can all chip in with some of the highlights of this past year.

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  61. Linebackers will be a Upgrade big time.

    Still can’t understand why Wirginis hasn’t played over some of the other guys the last couple of years. I hope the reason is a secret injury as some speculate because if it is not I have to mark it up as coaching stupidity.

    Wirginis plays with reckless abandon which is what I want in a linebacker (reckless abandon results in sacks, forced fumbles, and picks etc.).

    I don’t care how many tackles Idowu made he isn’t a player that ever stood out. Brightwell played sparingly and made just about as many plays (plays not tackles…you know moments that change a game) as all of the other linebackers combined.

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  62. ike, I’m not talking about opening up all of the trade secrets. We don’t need to know the special sauce. I’m talking about providing some film of some plain vanilla plays that get the juices flowing. They don’t need to leak any state secrets, just show us a few plays that keep up the interest over the long summer. I have no idea if Browne can even play, let alone lead us to 9-10 wins.

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  63. Thanks BigB and here is an excerpt from the AG’s report that could have large ramifications.:
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    “The study also found background clearances were missing for some of the adults who work at youth camps on campus, for everything from arts and music to sports and academic pursuits.

    “It only takes one child predator to cause what could be lifetime trauma for a child,” DePasquale said.

    Auditors found that not all of the 24,000 employees hired by Penn State during 2016 had completed background checks on file. University officials told them that hiring is decentralized, and people who did the hiring were not able to fully explain why not all checks were performed.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Does this sound like psu has been in compliance since the horrible events that took place in the valley of hell?

    Like

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