This has been a lot of discussion regarding the Panthers football team and its personnel movements over the past two weeks. At this point in time we have lost six players within three weeks of the last game played. That is very unusual as most players wait until some time goes by – usually until the dust settles in Jan or Feb and they have their ducks lined up to play elsewhere – before they take off.
We haven’t seen that with DiNucci or MacVittie – only “Sayonara!“.
Let’s take a second and look at the transfers we have had and then step back and take a look our players who declared for the NFL draft early.
First to clarify something. I have written that I was informed that something happened with the team not long after the Miami game was played back in the end of November. I want to make sure everyone knows that I don’t have specific details about what, if anything that was. However, I received an email back then from someone I have dealt with in the past and who has been reliable when it comes to Pitt football. it described the possibility that as many as seven players were involved in ‘something’ and may face disciplinary actions.
I reiterate that 1) I don’t know this for an absolute fact but I believe something has transpired and 2) I wouldn’t go into specific names even if I had them due to student privacy issues – and my own sense that if negative information is to be made public that should come via mainstream media who have certain journalistic rules they should abide by.
So – exit via dismissal RB Chawntez Moss… he wasn’t ‘not asked’ back, nor did he say he was leaving the program or declaring to transfer elsewhere; he was dismissed on Dec 4th. You don’t get dismissed for past transgressions folks, that is a permanent black mark levied on that player. If he was dismissed for things he did earlier in the season, instead of just being allowed to say he leaving, then that is just vindictiveness on the leadership’s part. Something happened in the week between the end of the season on Nov 25th and Dec 3rd to warrant that dismissal.
We may see others choose to leave, or maybe be dismissed, who surprise us also. OK – with that understood here is my take on the last two weeks.
You have to be daft or looking at Pitt football through heavily tinted blue and gold glasses if these two QB transfers don’t concern you, especially Ben DiNucci’s. I have written for two years that Thomas MacVittie was going to transfer after his second year onboard so to me that was a given.
But DiNucci’s transfer surprises me as it leaves Pitt with literally no D1 experience at all after the presumptive 2018 starter SO Kenny Pickett. None. I read fans thoughts regarding this turn of events and really have to wonder what they are thinking when they say he’s no great loss. DiNucci leaving taken in a vacuum maybe not be but time and circumstance are everything.
I have also written many times, since his recruitment back in 2015, that DiNucci was not going to be a starter at this level unless through injuries to others above him in the QB pecking order. That is what we saw when his chance to get playing time was first when Peterman was injured in the Pinstripe Bowl and then in this last season’s Syracuse loss when he came in for relief of a season-ending injury to starter Max Browne.
Even then DiNucci – for the current circumstances Pitt finds themselves in going into 2018 – would have been an extremely valuable player to have in the QB two-deep. If only for the reason of his experience and minor successes he had as a QB here in the past.
There is a world of difference between a QB who has been on roster for three years and having taken part in practices, scrimmages and played at this level than a transfer from a Community College which is what we have after convincing Tyler Zelinski to attend Pitt on a preferred walk-on basis.
During his time at Erie Community College, Zelinski played in nine games as a freshman, completing 54 percent of his passes for 1,756 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also threw 11 picks, but that may be attributable to the fact that he faced significant pressure on a regular basis. In those nine games, he was sacked 34 times for an average of just under four per game.
Be still my beating heart. If he faced ‘significant pressure’ and was sacked 34 times last year let’s hope he never has to play behind what I think is going to be an extremely porous OL next season. We gave up 31 sacks in ’17 – the sky’s the limit for ’18. At this point, unless we get another vagabond QB, he’ll be the QB2 going into spring drills.
I can’t find any recruiting info on Zelinski on any of the four recruiting sites… completely void and never ranked at all.
An existing walk-on QB is on roster in JR Jake Zilinskas – here is what his official bio has to say about what he’s brought to the Pitt training table. That’s harsh as every kid on roster does contribute to the overall teamwork, but he’ll never see a snap at Pitt
Which leaves a class of 2018 recruit QB Nick Patti as the presumed QB3 going into on the roster. Patti is a 3* kid with offers that scares nor impresses anyone – and the thought that he might be forced into playing time for whatever reason next year as a true FR is horrifying.
In essence we have Kenny Pickett… then no one.
Now – I have been singing praises of pickett since I watech him in an extended practice back in the spring of ’17. he has all the tools to succeed at this level and we have seen sterling play-under-pressure from him already with his being at the helm for our nice Miami win last month.
But unless someone can guarantee me that he’ll remain upright and uninjured (see the above about our OL) I remain completely unimpressed and very nervous of what might happen to our offense next year… I don’t care who else Narduzzi may bring in. Why, because the possibility does exist that Pickett may not live up to expectations the staff and fans have of him.
Now, I don’t think that will happen because he’s a solid, highly talented and cool-headed young man. But stranger things have happen with Pitt football. After all it was just last January that every pitt fan but me apparently was drooling over the fact that a 5* #1 overall recruit from USC’s roster, Max Browne, was going to play QB for us.
Remember all those pre-season articles both locally and nationally that pointed to Browne as being one of the best surprises for the 2017 season? They were all over the joint and – as we saw – meant nothing.
We needed DiNucci to remain on roster folks, regardless of if you liked or disliked how he played ball. And you can bet your mortgage that Pat Narduzzi did everything possible to keep DiNucci here. Narduzzi would have been a fool not to given the state of the QB barracks going into this off-season.
It is so bad that DBs and a WR have thrown their hats into the QB ring…
There are a lot of differing opinions on whether or not these three players should stay or go and I think we all agree that if a player is going to be drafted in the first three rounds then, if they have their degree, they should probably declare. That is if they have had careers that warrant it.
That is the issue at hand I see here…. ‘if their careers warrant it.’ The NFL is really a “What have you done for me lately” business. I think we can all agree that overall these three players have had good careers at Pitt. I also feel that all three of these players had what were probably their worst seasons of play at Pitt in the 2017 season.
Henderson and O’Neill certainly did. Whitehead’s season can be debated but since his sterling FR year he has played below that level and didn’t stand out in any real way last year at all.
So why the decision to go now?
The NFL has an entity, The College Advisory Committee, which takes submissions from colleges regarding soon-to-be eligible players (up to five per team) and gives them feedback on possible a draft status if the Committee feels the player will be 1st or 2nd round draft picks – but that is the extent of its advice. It does not delve into the lower rounds possibility.
Players will be given one of the following: (a) they have the potential to be drafted as high as the first round; (b) they have the potential to be drafted as high as the second round; or (c) they should remain in school to develop further as potential professional prospects while continuing their education.
The CAC’s evaluation is based solely upon demonstrated football ability. It does not take into account injuries, the perceived strength or weakness of a particular year’s draft class, performances at the scouting combine or pro timing days, or any other factor that may influence a player’s draft status.
When an evaluation has been completed, a member of the CAC or a representative of the NFL Commissioner’s office will contact each player and head coach by telephone. The player and head coach will also receive a written copy of the CAC’s evaluation.
We all remember when DT Aaron Donald was eligible to enter the draft after his JR year at Pitt but chose to return for a senior year – garnering just about every award he could en route to being a 1st rounder in the next year’s draft. He did that because this Committee returned a decision that he wouldn’t have been in the 1st or 2nd rounds after his JR year.
You can be sure that none of the three players, with the possible exception of Brian O’Neill, will have been advised they feel into the 1st or 2nd round category, and I doubt O’Neill was either.
In my opinion each one would be better served because of their ‘down’ 2017 seasons… unless they felt that circumstances were not going to be much better with the team next year and they may not make it back to the level the once played at.
What surprised me about Whitehead and Henderson is that they declared for the draft before getting advice from the NFL Committee. Schools almost always wait until after their last game to put submissions in – the deadline set by the Committee is Dec 15th to be able to get an answer back by the deadline for declaration on Jan 15th – so that a full body of work is available on the player.
But Henderson didn’t wait or avail himself of the NFL Committee – here is an excerpt from a PSN interview with him:
Why did you opt to declare for the NFL draft?
It was pretty much the last game and I started thinking and I wasn’t really touching the ball as much as I want my sophomore year. My production numbers are down I didn’t want to run that risk again next year. So I just decided to test the waters and enter into the draft.
Did you do any research prior to your decision? Did you speak with anyone affiliated with the NFL? Perhaps a scout?
It was pretty much just me, my mom and my dad. I’ve been hearing from a lot of teams, just from academic advisors, a lot of people coming to practices and some resources I have let me know what scouts are saying about me. So I pretty much used all of my resources before I made my final decision.
Those two players declared before the deadline and that seems strange to me. “My production numbers are down I didn’t want to run that risk again next year.”? That is a weird way of admitting this is probably the wrong move to make. Something not hunky-dory there.
On the other hand I don’t think either had a shot at the first two rounds anyway so maybe it was a ‘why bother to get an evaluation?’ type situation. I have a weird feeling about Henderson’s decision though, doesn’t sit right with me.