This decent 2018 recruiting class ended on a nice up note with the verbal commitment and signing of 4* ATH/Running Back Mychale Salahuddin.  We needed that to happen for a few reasons – first because we need a good, possible, star RB on our roster.  He tried faking Pitt out though – from the Post Gazette.

But perhaps more importantly grabbing a last-minute 4* recruit kept this class from becoming the first recruiting class in 15 years to not have any 4* or 5* recruits in it.  That may sound minor to you but it really isn’t.  In recruiting perception is everything – and the best recruits want to play next to the other best recruits.

So we end up with 20 new Panthers and with a 36th ranked class. As much as I try I can’t get very excited about this. We got some nice recruits – the aforementioned Salahuddin above is the gem. We’ll have some solid future starters out of it I’m sure.  We’ll even have a kid or two who will get post-season honors.  That happens every year at Pitt.

But the bald truth is that successful Pitt football teams run on stardom power, not on the backs of 3* recruits. Look back over the last 15 years and see what the better seasons had in common.  In those early years we had Big Name stars carrying the teams. To name a few past years

In 2003 we had Rutherford throwing for 3700 yards and 37 TDs to get eight wins and All-American Larry Fitzgerald being the star receiver he was;

In 2004 Tyler Palko came on the scene and tossed for over 3000 yards and 27 TDs and we won eight games.

2008 we won nine  games when LeSean McCoy ran for 1488 yards and 21 TDs.  You catch the drift here; the better the star power the better we play as a team and win more games.

Revis, Baldwin, Byham, Dickerson, Otah, McCoy, Lewis, Graham, Donald, Johnson, Conner, Boyd, Peterman – these are just a few of the genuine star players we had when we put up eight or more win seasons.  The majority of those were 4* or 5* recruits.

Sorry but when I look at this recruiting class and then back at last year’s 2017 class no one player jumps out at me as being able to produce like those Panthers above have done.  Maybe we’ll have one – Dion Lewis was a 2* recruit and other 3* recruits have risen to the top of play also.  But if you want the true stardom players out on the field working for you then you need to recruit the blue-chip kids.

Pitt isn’t the type of team or program that some other 3-star recruiting schools are – like Wisconsin for example. Pitt fans love to point to Wisconsin as a role model for us to become… a team that can win with almost all 3* recruits. C’Mon folks! Do we ever really think we’ll have that strong and consistently well-administered and funded program like they do?

Again, sorry – but I don’t.

Pitt need to catch lightning in a bottle for the successful seasons.  Just lately we had two eight win seasons under Narduzzi – but we also had 3* James Conner, 5* Dorian Johnson, 4* Tyler Boyd, 4* Alex Bookser, 4* Jordan Whitehead and 4* Nate Peterman carrying us to those wins.  Stars matter and… recruiting stars matter also.

Joe L. has updated his 3* Recruit Teams comparisons with yesterday’s final signees and it is pretty interesting.  If you remember we posted his original version of this on the 19th of last month.   I suggest re-reading that article to get a clear picture of where are from then until now the day after the final signings.  Here is what he wrote for today:

Now that LOI Day has come and gone, I thought it might be interesting to re-post part of a table used in the post “Is Everything OK on the Football Front?” from January 19th. Now that the 2018 class is largely complete, I wondered if there were any nuggets of insight to cull from the information.

JoeL

One thing that I noticed was that Pitt edged up from 3.0 stars to 3.05. Perhaps its minor – oh, heck it is minor – but this year’s class is a bit better than our 2013-2017 average of 2.95. And why miss an opportunity in this, our basketball season of discontent, to find something positive to hold onto on the football front.

I also noted that our class rank of 36 in 2018 is better than our five-year average of 42.2.

Any improvement is good improvement and I hope we “ain’t seen nothing yet” – with apologies to Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

But more importantly – at least from my perspective – is how we stack up against the group of teams that are 3 star programs averaging 8 wins or more per year as well as the ACC teams in this group. We are right in the middle of the pack. Virginia Tech and UNC had above average classes in 2018, so if we intend to contend in the end, we are going to need to improve more than we did this year.

I think some guy named Reed has already said that and the numbers bear that out in 2018. 

Hear Hear…- “so if we intend to contend in the end, we are going to need to improve more than we did this year.

‘Nuff said.

Here is Pat Narduzzi’s Presser in text...

PITT FOOTBALL FEBRUARY 2018 NLI DAY SIGNEES

Habakkuk Baldonado (haba-kuk), DL, 6-5, 230, Clearwater, FL/Clearwater Academy International
Gained significant FBS recruiting interest despite playing just one season of high school football in the United States…played three years of American football in his native Italy (Rome) before moving to Florida in 2017…played defensive end and receiver at Clearwater Academy International under Coach Jesse Chinchar…totaled 83 tackles, a whopping 30.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries on defense…as a receiver, averaged 24.4 yards per reception (nine catches for 220 yards) and scored two touchdowns.

Erick Hallett, DB, 5-11, 175, Cypress, TX/Cy-Fair
One of the Houston area’s top prospects who helped lead Cy-Fair to the Texas Class 6A Division II championship with a 15-0 record…totaled 38 tackles, six interceptions and eight passes defended as a senior…returned an interception (34 yards) and a fumble (19 yards) for touchdowns…also contributed as a return specialist, averaging 27.6 yards on kickoffs (five for 138) and 11.2 on punts (21 for 235)…compiled 10 total INTs over his junior and senior seasons…Houston Chronicle All-Greater Houston…two-time first team All-District 17-6A…played under Coach Ed Pustejovsky.

Stefano Millin, OL, 6-5, 305, Massillon, OH/Perry H.S./Kent State
Will join Pitt as a graduate transfer after starting on the offensive line the past two seasons at Kent State…played in 35 career games, making 30 starts for the Golden Flashes…made 27 consecutive starts dating back to the 2015 season…started all 12 contests at left tackle in 2017…also started all 12 games in 2016, making eight starts at center and four at right tackle…in 2015, his first active collegiate season, played in 11 games with six starts (four at center and two at left tackle)…was a standout two-way lineman at Perry High School under Coach Keith Wakefield…finished his prep career with 18 sacks and 25 tackles for loss…also an exceptional wrestler at Perry, twice qualifying for the state tournament.

Kaymar Mimes (mymes), DL, 6-5, 235, Long Branch, NJ/Long Branch
One of New Jersey’s top defensive end prospects…compiled 87 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a senior…led Long Branch to a 9-3 record and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Group IV championship…played under Coach Dan George…All-Shore…All-Class B North…a well-rounded athlete who also played basketball and was a versatile track and field standout, participating in the discus, shot put, high jump and on the 400-meter relay team…rated the No. 26 overall prospect in New Jersey by 247Sports, No. 28 by ESPN and No. 33 by Rivals…is the brother of Oakland Raiders linebacker Shilique Calhoun, who Pat Narduzzi coached while they were both at Michigan State…Calhoun played at Michigan State from 2011-15, earning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year honors.

Mychale Salahuddin (michael sa-la-who-deen), RB, 5-11, 190, Washington, D.C./H.D. Woodson
Earned praise as one of the nation’s top all-purpose backs and was widely considered the top overall prospect in Washington D.C….rushed for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at H.D. Woodson…averaged better than 10 yards per carry…Washington Post first team All-Met…first team All-D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA)…first team All-DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia)…led H.D. Woodson to a 9-3 record and the DCIAA championship game as a senior…rated Washington D.C.’s No. 1 prospect by Rivals and 247Sports…rated the country’s No. 5 all-purpose back by Rivals and 247Sports…rated the No. 9 prospect in Washington D.C. and the nation’s No. 33 running back by ESPN…played under Coach Greg Fuller.

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117 thoughts on “Narduzzi Gets a Birdie on Last Hole

  1. PAT NARDUZZI: Well thanks for coming out in the beautiful weather today. Spring ball is right around the corner, as you guys know. I appreciate you coming for the second signing date. I don’t know what you guys think. I should ask you guys what you think about these two signing dates. You know, it’s round 2 as far as the signing date goes. As a football coach, just to start off there, what’s our thoughts on the process, it was really nice to sign 16 great players in December and then have the month of January to really kind of narrow our focus on what our needs are, who we want, and go after those guys as well as look into the future as far as what 19s and 20s hold in walking through some of those schools.

    Sometimes you find yourself as a head coach sending your assistants out there to go, hey, make sure you stay on Jerry, don’t let Jerry go. Jerry starts to slip away, you’ve got to go back and get him, and then you’re trying to keep everybody in line. I do like the early signing date. I don’t like anything else that would maybe go with that. I don’t like an early visit period, which we’ve talked before. But I really do like that. And then you can kind of evaluate what you have and then go out and get a couple more.

    So we were able to sign five, I think, unbelievable athletes. Really when you look at our focus, maybe the next press conference I’ll kind of say, hey, how many guys did we visit and how many did we get, but I’m guessing we hit probably on 80 to 85 percent, which is unbelievable. Our hit ratio when they step on this campus and see what we have to offer, and Chris, you’ve probably got a tally already, what’s the stat? It’s pretty good. I don’t know if I’ve been around better, which tells you the product here, the people at the University of Pittsburgh are strong. I’ve always said this: It’s our job as coaches to get them on campus, and once they’re here, the university sells itself. I don’t think people realize how tremendous this campus is, the facilities are, and most importantly, the people on campus and academics and all the support we get there. We’ve talked about that before.

    Really excited about that.

    One thing I wanted to hit on today that maybe I didn’t hit the last time was really the team recruiting we do. It really starts with an area recruiter. We’re really focused on whose area is that. Someone has got to work their area, and then we actually get the position coach involved in that area as well as a coordinator and then obviously the head coach gets to go in and see that individual one time when he’s on the road recruiting. So we’re really area, and then really get our entire team in there on a prospect. I think that’s probably an important thing to understand. It’s not one guy doing it, it’s everybody doing it, and I think it’s a team process, and I think it works because there’s more relationships that these players, these families, these grandparents have with all these other coaches, and I think it’s important.

    So that was even more what we were able to do in January is really get more people in there because you didn’t have to spread yourself so thin.

    So when you look at needs and what we got signed here, we got, I think, a tremendous tailback we’ll talk about in a second. We got an offensive tackle, which was a major need. I’ll go back to tailback. We needed a tailback. We wanted a tailback, but we weren’t just going to take any tailback. Coach Powell will probably get mad at me. I don’t see him in here, so Coach Powell would have his guys up there that he wanted, and the one we signed obviously was a guy — Mychale was a guy that we wanted bad, and we didn’t think we were going to get him. There was some other guys — so he kept moving guys up the board, and they weren’t really good enough. They weren’t what we wanted to take. So we weren’t settling for less, so we got the tailback we wanted and the tailback that we needed, but we might not have taken one. If we didn’t get Mychale, we weren’t going to take one.

    We got a great offensive tackle of need. With Brian O’Neill leaving one year early, we felt like we needed to get an older guy. We targeted a few guys and landed one. Probably would have taken two. We needed one more and wanted one more corner. We got that down in Texas. And then we took two more big athletes that I don’t think you can ever go wrong taking big, athletic guys, and we took two of those. With that, I guess I’ll go ahead and hit down on these guys.

    The first one, Rob Harley was really the major contact on this one: Haba Baldonado, from [Clearwater] Academy International down in [Clearwater], Florida. One year at [Clearwater] Academy, but really came from Rome, Italy, which you guys probably know everything. You guys are like yeah, Coach, we know, you guys are on the internet and Twitter and all that, but Haba is an unbelievable kid. Have not met his mother. I’ve FaceTimed his mother in Rome. If Heather [Lyke] lets me, me and Coach Harley probably got to take a trip out to Rome just to see her. That will be a nine-hour there, spend a couple hours and turn around and come back and get some more. Jerry, might need assistance from you.

    But you talk about a great student, fluent in three languages. He’s a great athlete. We’ve got video of him doing back flips, the whole deal. He’s a great athlete that I think Coach Partridge and Coach Salem, again, whether he’s a tight end, D-end, can do a lot of things with the athletic ability there. Erick Hallett from Cy-Fair High School right outside of Houston, Texas, so from that area, again, Randy Bates, our new defensive coordinator, was really in on that recruit. When we hired Randy, I guess, a month ago — been here a month, Coach? 21 days ago. I said, hey, we still are looking for a great corner if you’ve got one in your area, and bang, Erick was the first guy we were on. We took a while just to kind of find out who he was, like we usually do. We just don’t jump in and put both feet in, we put one foot in, test the water, and quality, quality parents, two parents at home, and just a tremendous athlete, comes from a great high school, won a state championship there. So we’re excited to have Erick with us.

    Stefano Millin from Massillon Perry High School in Massillon, Ohio. Kent State grad, that’s that offensive tackle transfer that we were talking about. Played against Clemson…I think if you can play against them, you can play against anybody.

    But Stefano comes in here, I think he’s a leader. I think he instantly brings not only his experience but brings leadership qualities of an older guy. I won’t be surprised if he walks in that O-line meeting room and becomes the dad of the group. Very smart. And I think he’s really, really tough.

    He’s already warned me, Coach, I like to go to the end of the whistle, and I like to talk a little bit, too, so he’s kind of got a little nasty streak in him, so we’re fired up that Stefano and his family decided to come here.

    Defensive end, another big athlete Kaymar Mimes from Long Branch High School, Long Branch, New Jersey. Just a guy that we didn’t think was going to sign until February, so we weren’t really going crazy in December with recruiting him, and then all of a sudden at the last minute we hear that he’s possibly going to sign with somebody in December, and we’re like whoa, whoa, whoa, so we slowed the process down, got back in there at the last second, really put a halt to the marriage. We were at the front doors of the church, and we locked the church doors up and said, no, there’s no wedding here today. Just kind of ended that whole picture, and really got back in it to the point we could get Kay here on campus. So we stopped the marriage, and we married him ourselves. The relationship with him and his family go back a long way, and that’s where the trust really started.

    His brother, even though it’s a different last name, they rotate the last name, his brother Shilique Calhoun was a defensive end for me at Michigan State, now is with the Los Angeles Raiders or Oakland or whoever they are now, the Oakland Raiders, I guess. So he plays out there, and that’s kind of the relationship, and again, Coach Salem did a heck of a job on him.

    Going back to Stefano real quick, Coach James Patton really went on the road and did a heck of a job, really sealed the deal on Stefano. And again, Coach Salem was obviously the lead recruiter on Kaymar in New Jersey because he dominates that area.

    And then the last one, Coach Powell, our running back coach, was on Mychale Salahuddin, our new tailback that decided here, I guess, about noon, from H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C., and again, another just quality, quality kid. What sold us on him is not only his character, his mom and grandma, is that Jaylen Twyman also a teammate we had the year before, and the quality of person he’s been in the year he’s been here so far and not only academically but athletically. H.D. Woodson is putting out some great players and great character kids, so we’re happy to have Mychale with us, as well.

    So those are our five guys. It’s a heck of a class. Our coaches did a wonderful job at locking those guys up, and again, recruiting them like we do, the real way.

    With that, I’ll open it up for questions.

    Q. You mentioned Baldonado could play defense or tight end? Do you look at that possibility —
    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, they all can — you know how we are. We’d like to play guys both ways. [Baldonado] no doubt about it can do it, big athlete. What we normally do, and again, we may be able to do it in a mini-camp this year a little bit. That’s a long story, but yeah, we’ll find out when they come into camp really what they can do, and we’ll go through some big skill drills. Hey, how well do they catch the ball; they might look good, run well, but they can’t catch; then they’d probably stay at defensive end. If they can catch, it’s kind of like, ooh. So we’re going to spread those big athletes out and give us a chance to get the best players on the field.

    Q. Did the possibility of those guys being able to do that change your approach in January as far as recruiting tight ends?
    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, it really did. We had a need. We would have liked to have gotten one pure tight end, but again, didn’t want to settle for the guys that — well, that guy, he just doesn’t have this or have that. We just wanted to get the best big athletes we could, and that’s what we’ve arrived at.

    Q. With Mychale, when you talk about him filling a need for you guys, did you look him more as you wanted someone that good to fill that need? Is that something you wanted more this year or looking long-term?
    PAT NARDUZZI: I think whenever we take a player, we don’t want to take a guy just to be a backup. We’re taking a guy to come in and play. Mychale is going to have a chance to come in and compete right away. We feel good with our running backs we had, so it’s got to be someone that we feel can come in and compete right now, otherwise let’s wait until next year and get one that can compete fast, if that answers your question.

    Q. You kind of touched on this, but how did the way things played out with the early signing period kind of make the second period where you didn’t necessarily have — there were some spots where you wanted a lineman, but there were other spots where you said, we have a scholarship, we can go find the best player we can find to fill that scholarship, doesn’t matter what position he is, and how different is that?
    PAT NARDUZZI: It’s probably no different, but — it’s really no different. We have always had that same policy of finding the best available, very similar to what the NFL will do. You just were able to do that at the same time. We didn’t have to go hold on to the rest of the class and keep them together when someone else is trying to find their best available and you’re walking in one door and someone else is walking in the other trying to get your guy. It made it easier that way that we could really focus more time on these five individuals as they were coming on visits.

    Q. Had you had the experience developing a player like Baldonado who hasn’t played a whole lot of football but has all the athleticism you could look for?
    PAT NARDUZZI: You know, different high schools, there’s some kids that played in America for 15 years that don’t have some of the knowledge — this kid is really smart. We’ve recruited international guys from Canada before. I’ve recruited probably — recruited and coached probably three or four of them. A couple of them are probably still playing in the Canadian Football League, so you’ve seen some of the international football players. This guy is just a little bit different. It’s like his football knowledge, it’s like he’s been playing for a long time. He understands the game. The competition will be a lot better when he gets here compared to what maybe he was playing in high school, but I think it’ll all translate. But we’ve had the international students that maybe don’t come from that football — from the United States that we have here. But this kid is — there’s something different about him, his personality. He’s going to be a fun kid to coach. I can imagine him being involved in student organizations on campus. I mean, I think he’s the complete package as far as a person, and he’s really smart.

    Q. Is one signing period more important than the other? Is the early signing period bigger than this one now?
    PAT NARDUZZI: I would say the only way the other signing period would be bigger than the other one is if they just eliminated it and had one. But they’re both important. We signed really, really good-character student-athletes in both of them, so how can you say one is better than the other or more important. You really can’t — it’s kind of nice to have two. But I could go with one in December — and again, really, this February signing, they can sign all the way to March 31st. So I think we talk about the signing day. It’s really a signing two months that they have an opportunity to really sign that contract that they may have in front of them.

    Q. Is it still a learning process to figure out how to approach two signing periods with recruiting?
    PAT NARDUZZI: It is, it is. If you had to do it all over again, I can tell you this: It seemed like as you recruited — there was more competition in January. You almost felt like some guys got over-recruited in January, like wow, things started to load up, and you couldn’t believe so many guys were recruiting an individual just because there was only a couple fish out there and there was a lot of sharks looking for that little fish.

    Q. Did you see Millin as a high school player?
    PAT NARDUZZI: No, we didn’t, and that bothers you, because you’re like, hey, where did you come from, how did I not know where you were, but he was a 230-pound tall, skinny guy, I guess, and Kent got him. But those guys slip through the cracks, and that’s probably when you talk signing periods, I think it’s going to affect high school and high school players more than it’s going to affect the colleges. But we’re going to be affected because we’re going to miss on a guy like that that could have been at Pitt. As a matter of fact, he was on our campus at Pitt back when he was coming out of high school, and just too skinny, whatever it may be, but he’s not skinny anymore. He’s a super player.

    Q. Will he start at left tackle right away?
    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, he’ll start at left tackle right away.

    Q. After these two periods now, do you feel pretty comfortable when you go to high schools that people know what you’re about and what your program is about?
    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think so. That’s always a work in progress. I think the amazing thing when people come in, and we’ve had some really, really good walk-ons come in the last couple weeks that we’ve kind of blended in with the rest of the visits, and the thing you hear is just the way we do our business on campus, and that’s kind of who we are, and you’re shocked to hear that. But we continue to build our reputation as people and as a football program based on how we do our business, so I think it’s a work in progress. But you’d be amazed at bringing in guys that just want to be a priority walk-on that are like, hey, I’ve been to five or six of these, and there’s no place like this. That’s how you build your reputation as a program. Our coaches and staff have done an incredible job there.

    Q. Any word on an offensive line coach?
    PAT NARDUZZI: No, no. We’re working on it. Won’t be long.

    Q. Sounds like Coach Patton was able to go out and do some of that recruiting with Stefano?
    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, no question about it. We’re allowed 10 coaches on the field, I think, as of January 9th. I’m not sure what the date was. But we didn’t have him out any earlier than that, but we were able to get James out and Tim Cooper out. We were able to get — we’re going to have 10 assistants on the road. So we were able to get with Dustin Gray in compliance and get a switch and have those guys take over for our coaches that weren’t here and for that 10th assistant until Archie Collins and Randy got here. So those guys took over and were able to come in and do the recruiting, which was a great experience for them, and obviously it helped us out a bunch. They did a great job.

    Q. You signed the four DBs. Do you see any of them locked into corner? Do you think they could all move to corner or safety?
    PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, no, we don’t. Looking at those guys, we may have had — I think Judson (Tallandier) might have been the only guy in camp. I don’t know if anybody can help me out with that one. Maybe two of them came to camp. But until we get them here, put them through drills, we think all of them have the ability to play corner, put it that way. We think they all can play there. But our field safety position could be a corner. He’s playing the same position, just playing off coverage. We think they’re all great athletes and all have a place for them. So those are probably your starting four guys out there when we put the freshmen out there in the fall.

    Q. It seems like from what I was able to see that one of Mychale’s calling cards is speed, to be a guy that can score for you. How rare of a talent is that for you guys to find, and do you feel like that makes a player like that more impactful when you don’t have a ton of those guys?
    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think any time you have a playmaker with his ability, and the other thing I’ll mention about Mychale is he wants to play defense, too, okay, and we kind of like that. But he’s a hitter. Go put some of his junior tape on and watch him whack people. He’s a guy that can play both ways, so there’s another safety for Coach Bates back there and Coach Collins and Coach Hill. But he’s a tremendous football player, and he can make an impact anywhere on the field, catching it, running it or hitting somebody.

    Q. If I had asked you last spring or last June about how big you thought the class was going to end up being, did it end up bigger than you would have expected eight or nine months ago?
    PAT NARDUZZI: I think that always happens. I don’t know if I’ve ever been anywhere — we always are shooting for a higher number, knowing that there’s going to be attrition, guys looking for places to play, and I think it gets competitive. Any time you’re bringing in more younger players and they start moving up the depth chart and they jump in front of people that you see guys kind of turn around and go, where did this guy come from, and they say, maybe I have to play somewhere else.

    So we’re always looking at those numbers, and it’s always a fluid number. That’s why I can’t say we’re going to take 14 of them, and then if we plan on 14, then all of a sudden we need 22, then we’ve got a problem. So we’ll just continue to evaluate that. But yeah, there’s always changes. Guys have opportunities to stay or choose to move on, and those are choices that we understand our kids have to make.

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  2. Where to begin…. Great article but I can’t help to feel that Narduzzi as a coach knows what we need and the kind of kids he wants. I’d rather have a 3 star who will run through a wall for me than a 4-5 star who thinks he’s going to the NFL. Sure do you need some to compete? I suppose so, but you also need that heart, last time I checked that’s not a part of the grading system.

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  3. What I don’t get is how we are edging up at all with the total sh#% show the recruiting program seems to be. Maybe it isn’t? or just think how much it would have gone up if the staff was executing everything right and hitting on all cylinders.
    Could be a bright future and reason for optimism? Maybe, just maybe…

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    1. Exactly what do you mean by executing right and hitting on all cylinders? He’s offering quality recruits and I believe he’s doing well working within his budget.

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  4. I have to really applaud the Duzz for pulling off a class in the top 40 again. Think of what he is trying to sell. We have wimpy attendance, a terrible game day atmosphere, a program that never hits ten wins or competes for a conference title, and we also have a slipping academic reputation. Duzz was still able to do better than 3/4 of other DI schools in the recruiting game. Unreal awesome.

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    1. Add lousy bowls and bowl performance. Girls dressed in winter clothing.

      Other than that we are awesome!

      Narduzzi doing pretty well fighting those head winds.

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  5. I am not disappointed about this class, in fact I think it has a lot of potential. Jackie Lewis, Danielson, Salahuddin look like they could be stars. It is a very solid class but I agree Reed everytime pitt had had a good year we had one or two players on each side of the ball that were a 4 or 5 star that carried the team. Time will tell but I’d be jumping for joy if we got at least 4 4 star players each class that pushes your roster toward a championship level. Geez even Cincinnati got 4 4 stars.

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  6. If you look at the 2017 season name one player who played like a star all year. I cannot name one. The only guy I said all year he played like a star was kenny pickett against miami the problem is that was one game. I would also say he was best player on the field against VA Tech. That’s the only thing that bothers me about this class we need a couple stars. Here is hoping some of these new comers are the next conner lewis or Pickett H2p!!!

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      1. Normally I’m not a JUCO fan, but consider our JUCO transfer was ranked as #1 QB in country in 1975. My concern was neither QB was D1 material. Towns, despite his transfers, Alabama, USC, is a QB that got caught up in the 5* merryground, playing behind Donaldson at USC.
        Pitt could never recruit a H.S. of his stature.
        Look at Jacob Eason #1 QB in 1976 goes to GA. Now transferring to Washington, like Eason we have struck gold.
        Like Savage, Peterman, and Browne, he was not sought after so hard my Pitt to be a backup, he will start in the fall.
        A rusty 5* QB and 4* RB ups my outlook for 2018. Great job coach.
        Pickett and the other QB were never part of the plan.

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  7. Again and at the risk of sounding like a broken record but maybe with a new bonus tune on it.

    I can not see the problem with this recruiting class at all. Solid players up and down the entire list. Will they all be great players, I doubt that very much. It doesn’t work that way. Seems to me that PITT took most of the best players from western Pa. They reeled in the old school type of player from the past. The grunts. Danielson, Zubovi, Kradel and Green. << who’s going to be a good one.

    Here’s a list from the above article
    +++++++++++++++++

    Just lately we had two eight win seasons under Narduzzi – but we also had 3* James Conner, 5* Dorian Johnson, 4* Tyler Boyd, 4* Alex Bookser, 4* Jordan Whitehead and 4* Nate Peterman carrying us to those wins. Stars matter and… recruiting stars matter also.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Well hells bells, the only player that’s not from WPA on that short list is Peterman and he’s a Narduzzi recruit and forgot Bisnowaty. Conner may be a stretch but he was very lightly recruited. PITT did just fine with the local players and only missed on Raines who’s cousin plays at WVU right now. You can’t make a race horse out of a jackass. This years recruiting class was a little light with kids truly undecided.

    Heard the calls for coaching changes, the good news is they came this off season. See, there is a time and place to do these things and not in the middle of the season. Job well done for Narduzzi and PITT.

    We all have to remember who PITT is and the challenges they have to overcome. The program was in shambles a few short years ago. Thanks to Paul and now Narduzzi it looks to me that PITT is focused to keep on making positive strides. Is there one person among us that doesn’t want 20 5* recruits? The reality is that is not reality.

    Remember, you will always end up ahead even if you only take two steps forward and have to take one step back every once in awhile. You will end up ahead in the lone run. This is not a 10 yard dash, we are PITT, where nothing comes easy…. ike

    Like

    1. I agree about WPIAL. The weak WPIAL hurt the ability to land 4/5 star recruits. I think this class was decent. Disappointed we missed on raines and jurkovic but hard to be overly critical

      Like

  8. Reed, in your article above, you made reference to 17 past and current Pitt players by my count. 10 of them are local (11 if you count Byham).

    In the 10 counties that make up the WPIAL, there were only two players this year that were 4-star (Rivals).

    I think the decision to put more of an emphasis in recruiting within the ACC footprint, especially DC and FL, is valid, and I am happy with just about any 3-star we get from FL.

    Lastly, as previously mentioned on this blog, 10 of Pitt’s 3-star commits were just 0.1 from being a Rivals 4-star. That is not to be discredited

    Like

  9. Uh, oh. Queue wwb outrage in 5,4,3…

    You questioned Coach Pat’s recruiting and seeming inability to land star power.
    You implicitly connected Coach Pat’s recent success to Paul Chryst’s recruiting.
    You failed to acknowledge strength of schedule based upon poll rankings and hand picked results in assessing Coach Pat’s results.
    You suggested that Wisconsin’s program is well run without acknowledging their ludicrously weak scheduling and that Alvarez actually runs the show.

    The solution is to read more Dokish!

    Like

    1. Thus far this is the 2nd blog thread in a row where he apparently had nothing negative to say about the coaching staff, so he directed his hostility towards me.

      Like

        1. I don’t think he meant you Reed.

          Great point Major… Narduzzi is getting it and is bring in coaches that can help the team and help him on the coaching aspect as well.

          Like

  10. It all comes down to whether these kids get better over the next two years. Coaches obviously need to look at potential since most of these guys won’t see the field for two years and some won’t see it ever.

    When you look at how many recruits have gone by the wayside the last two years it is a pretty high percentage.

    It is one reason to value the 4 and 5 star guys that play as freshmen, they are sure things except for injury and behavior issues.

    Look what was said about guys like Pugh three years ago. Hill, Gilbert, MacVittie etc. It is all a crap shoot and we have to hope we beat the odds and have kids that will work hard stay healthy and produce on the field.

    Like

    1. Good point gc. If you get half of an incoming class to make contributions, you’re doing pretty well.

      Imagine trying to evaluate these players. You can see the highlight vid of a 2-star and they can look awesome. How the so-called experts differentiate between the 3 and 4 stars is beyond me, especially for linemen, who often outweigh or out-mass their opponents by a good margin…

      Go Pitt.

      Like

  11. Per PSN, Pitt will interview Maryland assistant Dave Borbely for OL coach … here’s an excerpt

    Borbely is currently at the University of Maryland in a role as the special assistant to the head coach. He joined D.J. Durkin’s staff last year as offensive line coach but was reassigned after the season.

    Borbely is a veteran assistant coach, having been in the business for 35 years. Prior to Maryland, he had stints as the offensive line coach at Stanford, Notre Dame, Colorado, Louisville and Virginia.

    Last season at Maryland, their running game rushed for over 2,500 for just the seventh time in team history and the first time since 2003. The Terps also scored 26 rushing touchdowns—most for that school since 2007.

    As far as his recruiting background, Borbely has a deep background recruiting the Northeast and the West Coast.

    Like

      1. Hill was looking, like most all staff coaches do, right after the season’s last game.

        I like the off-season personnel moves so far. That happens when you are at a crossroads…either change and get better or not change and get worse.

        Although I think he pulled the trigger on Conklin too soon… 😉

        Like

  12. –We sure have loaded up on the defensive linemen – both DE and DT. I asked Coach Bates about it and he said with the hurry-up offenses you just have to have enough players to keep the Dline fresh. (And of course you’re not going to hit it correctly on every player you bring in, so you have to bring in several and work the percentages…)

    –For some reason I really like it when a player is fluent in three languages, like Baldonado. That would be impressive for anybody – and he’s a Pitt football player! (And I liked the story Heather told about the Italian Professor at Pitt coming in on the weekend to meet with Baldonado when the kid visited…)

    –Baldonado certainly is a project, but then again how many guys are there out there who are 6’5″ and 235# and can run some. Not counting Reed. 🙂

    –BTW, apparently Pitt got onto Baldonado late – and got word to Coach Harley to go check him out. According to Coach Narduzzi, Coach Harley was able to change some travel plans and was at Baldonado’s school like less than an hour from when Pitt decided to check him out… Coach Partridge, who had recruited Greg Romeus, brought up Romeus’ name when he spoke about Baldonado at the LOI event.

    — Coach Harley said that Brightwell is up to 235 pounds. BTW, Coach Harley has a one-year-old and a two-year-old. Busy guy…

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  13. Well, if we were looking at positions and coaches who needed replaced we would have certainly said the D coordinator, the secondary coach, and the o line coach. They were the three areas that underachieved. Still question the S&C guy though.

    Like

  14. Agreed gc and it would be a good thing if the freshman O-Linemen don’t see the field. That’s called building for the future. I’m going to be much more critical of this PITT team this coming season. There will have to be a defined see-able improvement in most parts of the football team but dam, finally PITT has a young starting QB returning and he has all of one game started under his belt.

    Don’t be surprised if PITT goes to down-Town Ricky a little this year.

    Like

    1. I agree Ike. Of all the recruits, the one I like best QB Townes. I think he’s got some real talent. He just had to get over some immaturity and take a bite of that humble pie. I really love our QB talent right now.

      Like

      1. Town won’t see the field if Pickett stays healthy. From my point of view it’s hard to get too excited about any JC QB recruit that was second string at his JC.

        Like

        1. Do you really think Alabama, and USC would recruit Pickett or that as a junior before an injury Pickett would be rated #1 QB in nation.
          Do your homework. Town is the top recruit as was Savage, Peterman, and Browne. Read background on Towns.
          Pickett was never part of the the plan from the beginning.
          You do not go out hoping to nab a 3* QB out of high school.

          Like

  15. Love the pic of Lastrow, Richman and Bates with their award winning smiles…..ole Bates looks like a POVert…invite him to a tailgate

    Like

  16. I agree with ike that the recruiting class is very solid. Most positions of need were addressed, except that I don’t think Pitt is deep enough at the LB position. And if we assume Pickett is solid for the next 3 years, who is to follow? Can Patti do the job, or should Pitt have brought in a stud QB to red shirt a year and eventually start 2 years?

    Like

    1. Concerning LBs, I know you mean the quality of the LBs. Coach Harley said he’ll have 14 linebackers in his linebacker room. What has bothered me over several years is that we keep bringing in those LBs listed as 6-foot and 200 pounds. And after a year or two, they are like still only 6-foot and 210. Some people don’t have the genes to bulk up, I guess.

      We have a ton of experience coming back in Brightwell, Odowu, Zeise and Wirginis, and to a lesser extent Pine and Reynolds. I expect this group to be solid, if not spectacular. But we need some of those other younger players to step in and start making plays.

      Linebackers: Seniors — Idowu, Zeise, Williams, Wirginis
      Juniors – McKee, Brightwell, Dorsey
      Sophs – Pine, Reynolds, Deri
      Freshmen – Tucker, Bright, Nunn
      Recruit – Wendell Davis (6-2, 215)

      Like

  17. Sliwoski was a couple year starter and a winner at Hempfield. A good arm for camp if nothing more but he’s an athlete.

    Is this a type of recruiting class I would have been satisfied with back in the late 70’s early 80’s? Heck no.Yet I can say I think Narduzzi put together a good class. Raines would have put it over the top for a modern day PITT recruiting class.

    Like

  18. 4 stars are great and all, but they don’t always translate into wins. Is there a better example than Texas? They have had recruiting classes with 18, 16, and 11 four star recruits in the past few classes. Those have translated into 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, and 6-7 seasons over the past four years. It has been said that Charlie Strong recruited the players based on where they were at in ability and not where they would be in a few years. Many of those 4 star recruits never improved the way you would expect players to do. Texas got the #4 QB, #1 and #3 ILB, #3 OLB, #1 TE, lots of the top guys at their positions. If HCPN can make better judgements on how well these kids can improve, I’ll take the 3 stars.

    Like

  19. BTW, Coach Duzz mentioned at the LOI that they got caught by surprise when both McVittie and DiNooch decided to leave. He said they knew one was going, but not the second one, which left them in a fix at the QB position. Coach Duzz said that Watson was familiar with Ricky Town and they quickly were able to get Town to visit, apparently with Town coming directly from another visit that he was on…

    For better or worse, hopefully better, their scrambling netted Town.

    BTW, I know some disagree, but I was glad to see DiNooch leave. He just didn’t seem like he’d be a positive presence as a backup. I think he would have made the QB room pretty uncomfortable for everybody. It would be like UPitt being named Assistant Athletic Director to Heather… Just kidding UPitt. 😉

    Go PItt.

    Like

  20. Good to see recruiting moving out from western Pa. some. Our demographics in western Pa. require that begin and continue. Note on Fla recruits. My two sons spent a year in Fla. with their mother following our divorce in Pa. and still marvel at how Fla. schools do nothing but football from elementary up. All their PE and recess’s in elementary school were football and with coaching and position coaching. My one son played HS ball here in Pa. where his team had a transfer (move in) from Texas and he was about 1.5 yrs ahead of his peers here in overall game skill and position development. Alls well that ends well.Now come spring ball. H2P

    Like

  21. I am probably wrong but I think Baldonado is the most exciting of the recruits. Can’t teach 6′ 5″ and speed. Needs to learn technique and add some muscle but Charlie can get that done. Frankly, based on the problems we have had on D, I hope Tim Salem barely knows his name or dorm room location.

    Surprised that Coach Hill found a place in the NFL, he never impressed me. The only DB who has showed improvement is D Jackson. Whitehead never showed any improvement from his Frosh year. Hamlin has disappointed and Coleman/Garner showed no flashes of improvement during the year. No telling if the new former CMU coach can do better, but unlikely to do any worse.

    Was at the LOI festivities and found DC Bates to be very engaging, and comfortable in his own skin. He better find a way to deal with GT’s Navy-like offense which has made Pitt look silly every year. Please oh please never make us suffer through another Okie St debacle again. LB improvement better be on his hit list as well.

    Agree that on its surface not stars jump out except for the RB, but hopefully there are 2 3* kids who play like A Donald and J Connor. Also if you ask me the RB position looks really crowded, wonder if Davis or Sibley moves up the depth chart which chases away Ollie or Hall?

    Like

  22. Right, MajorMajors, I’m thinking quality at the LB position. The 14 LBs is a good number, but Pitt seems to accept projects like Zeise at the LB positions rather than recruiting the stud LB. When they take a LB like Pugh from Aliquippa, he gets moved, becomes disgruntled and then leaves. I hope Patti becomes that stud QB, jrnpitt, but he didn’t come in with the lights out credentials you would expect. I still hope that PN develops the solid defense he is noted for, and the secondary and DL seem to be progressing, but the LBs are still a big ??

    Like

  23. The knew MacVittie was leaving. Narduzzi started recruiting Town the week of December 10th, then DiNucci left on the 14th…Town signed on the 17th.

    We’ll see what happens if Pickett falters or goes down but right now we have no one with D1 snaps at all behind him.

    PS: Narduzzi has a lot more to worry about with his players then a bad attitude from Ben DiNucci. It hasn’t been a happy clubhouse for some time.

    Like

    1. Only the Steelers would hire a pedophile protector but then again the Steelers have a strong lineage with Penn State from the time they offered Joe Pa the HC job to all the players they drafted from Creepy Valley while sh*tting on everything Pitt including Marino.

      Like

      1. That’s true Tex….why Pitt is involved with the Stillers in both the UPMC Practice facility and Ketchup Bottle, with the way we get 3rd rate treatment by them, boggles the mind.

        Like

  24. Scout.com has us at #40

    ESPN has us at #56

    Rivals has us as #36

    247 has us at #46

    See why I stick with one site?? Funny that the one I use is the most generous toward Pitt recruiting

    This class really isn’t a very good class folks. We’ll see as always but it really should have been much better in Narduzzi’s third full year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. one 4 star out of 21?
      A 5% 4+ star ratio wont cut it
      you need to be 50% or more to be elite
      Pitt wont be going to any ACC chamoionships with this level of recruiting because frankly Narduzzi isnt Lombardi

      Liked by 1 person

  25. The key to winning with not a whole lot of 4 & 5 stars. Like the TCU’s did for over a decade, Wisconsin for the last 20 years, Boise State for the last 20 years, Northwestern(beat our 6 NFL player team in Bowl) and some other schools, that are not exactly football mills.

    You have to get kids to play above their expectations. And then instill in them, the attitude of always playing with ‘a chip on their shoulder’. This then gets ingrained as part of the program’s mantra.

    Since Pitt is not going to recruit tons of blue chippers until the program starts putting together some back to back to back, double digit win seasons……this appears to be one of the only ways.

    One of the other ways is to do what Pitt did to almost immediately launch the bball program into the Top 10 and that is to make a $ubstantial financial investment.

    Like

  26. These rankings wont cut it. We need 4 stars. A few elites each year on both sides of the ball. And strong lines. And a good QB. And coaches that dont muck things up. It can happen. Not sure if Nard Dog is the coach that can make it happen though. Beating an elite team each year while losing to mediocre ones doesnt cut it. 18 of Pedo States recruits were 4 star or above (78%). Vandy had four 4 stars.

    I know KS is not the coach. Pitt loses by 30 tonight. Our brand gets diminished more each game. Millions of brand equity erased. Buy the turd out for $5M and have your coach in hand now. Buyouts can be negotiated. If KS plays hard ball, make his life miserable as hell next year and offer no support. What KS is doing is outright theft. What Heather is doing is being an apologist and colluding in tearing the program down.

    Like

      1. I believe that was EJ Borghetti who was told “get off of my porch” by Graham…

        *Multiple coaches left Todd Graham’s staff to go work for Rich Rodriguez at Arizona

        • Todd Graham asked Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson for permission to interview with Arizona State and was denied

        • Todd Graham interviewed with Arizona State anyways

        • Todd Graham stopped answering calls from Pitt administrators including Pederson

        • Pederson had an official stop by the Graham house and was told “get off my porch”

        • Todd Graham sends a text announcing his resignation and pending move to Arizona State to his Director of Operations, Blair Philbrick, and asks him to forward to the Pitt players

        Like

  27. Pitt defensive assistant Renaldo Hill leaving for job with Dolphins (really)

    So we got rid of Conklin & Hill…as some of us wanted at the end of 2016. I guess one year late is
    better than never.

    Good luck to both, but you won’t be missed !

    Like

  28. Hey we have another good sports team at Pitt besides Girl’s Volleyball.

    The University of Pittsburgh men’s hockey team is headed to the American College Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I National Tournament for the second year in a row after recently clinching the College Hockey Mid-America (CHMA) regular-season title.

    Like

  29. I hate that I can’t access the POV from work anymore. Some firewall rule. I’m glad PN landed some quality kids to round out the class. Although as far as the rankings Reed posted above it seems PITT’s ranking is all over the place compared to the Hoopies who I believe are in the 30’s in all the sites.

    Like

      1. Sometimes, reading here, I realize we are not very realistic. PITT is not close to being rated a top 20 team. Not next year, and maybe not the year after either. Recruiting has been a disappointment the last too years.

        Like

  30. Pitt is one “great” QB away from being a top 20 team. Note I did put the word great in quotes for emphasis as to what it will take.

    Like

  31. The walk ons keep coming as Pitt has added Alex Capstick WR and Ethan VanBuskirk K to their roster. The more the merrier I say since you may never know if one may become a diamond in the rough.

    Like

  32. I sure hope PITT takes advantage on hiring a new offensive coordinator and by that I mean a coach that may bring along a player of two he’s been recruiting the past year or so.

    Reed, I’m still not 100% sure what the term “preferred walk-on” means. Don’t think they are guaranteed a scholarship ever but could wind up with one. I think it only guaranteed a spot on the roster where as a regular walk-on is not. I found this but it’s not really defined.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    “Nine out of the 10 staffs we spoke with use the “preferred concept” and to those nine, the clear difference between a preferred walk-on versus someone who simply walks-on is that the preferred means he is guaranteed a spot on the 105 man roster day one of camp, while other walk-ons will have to go through tryouts to see if they can earn a spot on the roster.”

    Like

    1. You may be correct. I was thinking of a “Grey Shirt” recruit

      “This often comes up in recruiting around National Signing Day. A grayshirt is when a team offers a player enrollment on scholarship at the start of the second semester, after the upcoming season. The athlete then has five years to play four seasons, with the ability to redshirt at some point.

      Athletes who grayshirt are allowed to enroll as students. They go to class for the first semester as part-time students, either at the school or at a junior college, without starting their eligibility clocks. Then they begin as full-time students on scholarship.”

      Either way I’d rather have better solid scholarship kids on the roster. if you look at Pitt we had 105 on roster in 2017 and only, maybe, 1 or 2 actually play.

      The rest are for practicing against. Good for those kids though… Living the dream.

      Like

  33. Anon, Pitt could easily have been ranked #19 at the end of the 2015 football season if we had won the bowl game against Navy.

    That would have put us at 9 and 4 and I tallied up all the different wons and losses by the top 25 before that bowl game and I think we could have been at least #19 maybe even #18 at the end of that year.

    I really don’t get why some Pitt fans don’t think bowl games are important, but at the same time put so much stock in pre-season rankings.

    I believe perceptions are a large part of college football. To lose a bowl game is one thing because it gives you one less win as we saw in 2015 and that could impact the national rankings.

    But to not even make a bowl has long lasting effects of its own. I think we saw that with this recruiting class and I think we saw that with last year’s recruiting class after two straight Bowl losses.

    A bowl game, if we make it in 2018, may be one of only A couple nationally televised games we’ll have next year… A program like Pitt has to capitalize on ever chance we get to show our best to a wide audience. 2016 is a perfect example of blowing the end of the season.

    We beat #2 Clemson, end up with 8 regular season wins them when the real pressure is on we folded and lost to an average Northwestern team …missing nine wins and a Top 25 ranking in doing so.

    And if we don’t get up to 8-9 regular season wins real soon and then getting to and winning a bowl game at the end of the year we’re going to continue on this exact same path.

    Like

  34. Two fine looking and famous POVer’s there, hardly recognized Jim without his PITT hat on. I see there is an autographed picture over Jim”s left shoulder. Is Lenny going to hang this picture as well?

    Hey Jim, what do you think of PITT signing the Hallet player out of your neck of the woods?

    Like

  35. Right now I count 3 walk ons that are getting quite a bit of playing time Aston, Morrissey and Idowu. I’m not sure Pitt would be a better team absent those 3 playing for us currently.

    Like

  36. I looked at the PSU roster and recruits and they easily have over 100 listed. Are there that many walk-ons or are they going to have to make a lot of cuts?

    Like

  37. Looking for more off season drama? What if MSU hires away Heather Lyke? She’s supposed to be on their search list? Wouldn’t that make a great article?

    Like

  38. Good or bad if Heather goes MSU but I hope we soon get all the movement done on staff so I can figure what’s up. At my age its hard to remember who is in a position because 2 more people have occupied it since the one you remembered. College is getting like the NFL,” not for long” as Walt Harris once said.

    Like

  39. Reed,
    This is at least the second time I’ve seen you refer to an “un-happy” clubhouse since the end of the year. Anyway to address it, and not saying guys aren’t happy, without blatantly giving away your sources? More depth would be great.

    Like

  40. Ike,

    I It seems Rivals only goes back to 2002 but I don’t see a single class without a 2* until this year.

    According to 24/7 though they have no 2* players outside of kickers during the Narduzzi era.

    Like

  41. every time I talk to her I come away with the inescapable feeling that sometime in the near future she is going to put something on twitter with the hashtag #metoo. or more appropriately #stranger#danger

    Like

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