POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s DEs

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s DEs
IMG_20180728_062717
Bernie and Fran with their POV Golf Trophy drinking cups

If you all remember I did a series of articles in June of 2017 that looked at the departing starters from the 2016 season and who I thought would be replacing them for 2017.  With that I assigned a grade of “Upgrade“, “Downgrade” or “Draw‘.

What I’ll do first is look at each position, or unit, along the offense as of today and write down who I think will be the starter and why it will be that guy.  Then I’ll assign a ranking of “Upgrade” if I see an upgrade in player quality, “Downgrade’ if I see a lessening of talent or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit. 

This particular article is written by our fellow reader and commenter Ike…  I’ll throw in the POV’s point of view (funny that, huh?) in my comment.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

This looks like another unit that may be hard to judge by a few of the commenters on the POV but not so much for me. The changes for 2018 are the departures of Allen Edwards and Reed’s favorite whipping boy our old Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin. He, as you all know, has been replaced by DC Randy Bates, the longtime linebackers coach at NW.

We really don’t know what type of defense Bates will employ. What will be interesting to try to figure out is whether Narduzzi is the one running the defense (which means more of the same emphasis on strong and constant pressure on the opposing QBs by the defensive front seven) and remain in charge there or will Bates have some room to do his thing?

Above are the changes, so who is returning at the ends and who are the newbies?

OLD GUYS

Dewayne Hendrix
Rashad Weaver
James Folston Jr
Patrick Jones II

NEW GUYS

Habakkuk Baldonado
Kaymar Mimes
John Morgan
Noah Palmer

First thing I notice are the small numbers and I went back to check the best my brain allows me to find if I missed a bunch of players and I didn’t find any.

I’ll start with the “old guys” and with returnee rsSR Dewayne Hendrix; I’m not saying he played great last season but I did not see the failure that others saw. I thought he put pressure on the QB at times and I noticed his hustle. This is his last chance and because of limited talent back-ups, I expect him to play a lot and his production to go up pretty significantly.

rsSR James Folston Jr has been around for a while and has done some nice things but he really hasn’t separated himself, yet I feel he’s a valuable backup and a luxury to have.

rsSO Patrick Jones II is interesting. It looks like he will be Weaver’s wing-man this year and has shown some flashes. He’s got nice size and quickness with speed. He will bring a lot of energy when he comes in against a tired defense.  He could have a good year.

rsSO Rashad Weaver… I love this young man. He plays all over the D-Line and we watched him standing up last year. There is no doubting his athleticism but I think it was his brain that got him onto the field last year. This DE has a very bright future and PITT cannot afford to lose him this year.

Two players;  freshman David Green, who is only 6’0″ 260 lbs and Deslin Alexandre 6’4″ 270 lbs have been moved to the interior of the line but could be used at the DE position if the two-deep fails.

Alexandre was an early enrollee last January and still took a redshirt but I did hear some good things about him. Green impressed me the couple of times I watched him play on TV in high school  but he reminded me of Aaron Donald back  when he was in high school. Because of his smaller size I wouldn’t be surprised if PITT slid him outside to take advantage of his quickness and speed.

It looks like Alexandre put on some weight but I’m not sure why they moved him to the interior of the line because it looks like they have enough bodies at the DT spot. Which makes me think he’ll end up back on the edge

To be fair, I can’t talk much about the incoming freshmen players as I know very little about them and I don’t expect any of them to get much playing time although the new redshirt rule will allow them to play four games so maybe we will see them at different times. I’ll throw true freshman John Morgan’s name out there as the one who may get quality time if any of them do.  I believe he comes from a big-time high school program and his father is a coach.

So what’s all the rumpus? Well, some may say this group sucked last year so they will suck this year too. Not me. I’ve said in a hundred times, PITT recruits 3* players and it takes these type of players time to grow in maturity and physicality. I expect the whole PITT defense to put a smile on many PITT faces this coming season.

UPGRADE

 

 

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s WRs

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s WRs

If you all remember I did a series of articles in June of 2017 that looked at the departing starters from the 2016 season and who I thought would be replacing them for 2017.  With that I assigned a grade of “Upgrade“, “Downgrade” or “Draw‘.

What I’ll do first is look at each position, or unit, along the offense as of today and write down who I think will be the starter and why it will be that guy.  Then I’ll assign a ranking of “Upgrade” if I see an upgrade in player quality, “Downgrade’ if I see a lessening of talent or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit. 

Might as well get this one out-of-the-way but it hurts me to even think about it – the 2018 Wide Receiver corps we’ll field this season.  Let’s look at who has left the team first.

WR Jester Weah was the poster boy for high-end talent and inconsistent play.  He came to Pitt in the 2013 recruiting class as a middling 3* recruit with his only Power 5 offer being ours.  He did have good ‘measurables’ coming out of high school as a 6’3″ gangly 193 lb pass catcher but there was something off about him from the time he reported into ’13’s fall camp and when he blossomed into a solid player in 2016.

I remember watching him in Paul Chryst’s open practices that fall and through into spring of the next season and what was obvious to everyone there was that he just couldn’t catch passes on any consistent basis.  I mean he’d high-point a circus catch one series and have the ball clang off of his hands the next.

Weah’s 2016 to 2017 performance:

As you can see (if you can see it) Weah had a drop in production overall even with five more pass reception last season. The lower TDs really hurt by going from 10 – which is a nice number for a WR to only four in ’17.

Weah 16weah 17

Of course the main play of his that sticks in our minds is his being caught from behind and tackled one yard short of the goal line on a long pass play in our 20-14 loss to Virginia Tech.  Needless to say he’s moved on and I’d say just about no Pitt fans are too broken up about his graduating.

Our other WR loss was a player who didn’t really have all that much impact in the passing game.  Quadree Henderson made his mark at Pitt as a kick returner and as a running back on jet sweeps.  He totaled 17 catches for 186 yards and zero TDs.  We’ll talk more about his leaving in our Special Teams article.

Of course having two below average QBs throwing the ball to them didn’t help our WRs last year either and let’s hope that problem is rectified with QB Kenny Pickett behind Center.  But still a team has to have talented receivers for him to throw to.

So, what do we have for 2018 then?  Well, our most productive WR coming back is SR Rafael Araujo-Lopes and you can see that he was a steady ballplayer in that he caught almost 80% of the passes thrown his way.  That is pretty damn good considering that doesn’t take subtract QB misfires.  Not too shabby especially compared to Weah’s poor 53% last year:

Lopes 17

Another stat to look at for a WR is what his “Success Rate” is and here the explanation for that.

Success Rate

A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.”

So with that it opens the eyes up even more when see that Lopes had a very good 57% rate in that category (Weah’s was 51% in his good 2016 year).  He’ll have to be even better as the WR1 this season.  The question though is who is going to be playing alongside Lopes in the two or three (maybe four sometimes) WR sets?

Continue reading “POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s WRs”

All-Conference Players and Recruiting

All-Conference Players and Recruiting

This bit of info about Pitt having only four ACC Top 100 preseason players really bothers me and one reason is because it sounds entirely reasonable to me.

“Offensive lineman Alex Bookser leads the way and you don’t even find him until No. 31. Bookser is the only Panther in the top 50. Linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu jumps into the mix at No. 53. He’s followed by defensive end Rashad Weaver (No. 66) and Darrin Hall (No. 95). The four players Pitt had was tied for worst (with Syracuse and North Carolina) in the ACC.

Tack on top of that we had only three 1st or 2nd team All-ACC players on the 2017 postseason team; OL Brian O’Neill (1st team), Punter Ryan Winslow (1st team) and KR Quadree Henderson (2nd team) and none of them were players who committed to Pat Narduzzi to play ball at Pitt.

So after reading and digesting these bits of info – especially seeing that of the four Top 100 ACC Pre-season players only one is a Pat Narduzzi committed-recruit, I started researching past Pitt head coaches and looked to see how many recruits they landed who were selected to All-Conference teams in their first two or three years.

What I found pretty much supports my thoughts that Narduzzi is having a hard time so far in getting early impact players to commit to playing for him at Pitt. I mean it is obvious in that we haven’t seen it happen yet in three full seasons, but what about our past coaches?

Well, every other Pitt HC has had at least one but most had two players or more who committed to them make either All-ACC or All-Big East 1st string teams within their first three years.  Now – it must be said that we haven’t seen what some of what Pat Narduzzi’s commits will do in their third years but the trend as it stands is worrisome.

Here is a quick chart I made of the past Head Coaches and which All-Star players (1st or 2nd team only) they had who broke out in their first three years on roster.

First 3 years

This is an accurate as I could get without really delving into past old archives but it tells the story I believe. It is important to note that most of these player did it within their first two years on the roster. Again, I remind that we still have to see how Narduzzi’s kids will play this year and next but…so far…

I’ve written about this often but it is very disturbing that not only hasn’t this happened with PN but here we are going into his 4th full season and we are still starting players like Dintino, Herndon, Roy, Zeise, Wirginis, Hall, Ollison and Briggs who not only are Chryst holdovers but just haven’t been very good players – and some never started many games if at all.

I know Pitt fans were very excited about PN’s first two recruiting classes but we have seen virtually no play from any of them and the ones who have gotten PT haven’t been all that impressive like Damar Hamlin.  Not one of Narduzzi’s 4* recruits have been breakout players yet (again, so far) and that’s not happy making either.

NAME POS
Damar Hamlin DB
Kaezon Pugh LB
George Hill ATH
Ruben Flowers WR
Amir Watts DT
Anthony Davis RB
Charles Reeves TE
Paris Ford DB

Of his eight 4* recruits landed four are no longer on the team, three have gotten spot playing time with only Watts and Hamlin having started any games (none for a full season) and Ford was redshirted his FR year last season.

I really am worried about this because not only does it impact the play on the field this year but if Narduzzi gets canned in the next couple of years (which certainly could happen with subsequent losing seasons) then the roster cupboard is really bare for whoever takes over.

That said we are all looking forward to two players who were recruited bu Narduzzi in his first two full classes and they are QB Kenny Pickett who impressed with two good games at the tail end  of last season.  Not seen yet but a player everyone is excited about is 4* Paris Ford who will be in the two-deep at least at a cornerback spot.  If he plays to hype – and he really impressed in the spring game – he could be one of the breakout players we’ve been missing.

I think two other players could do also.  If Hall and Ollison continue to play the way they have which in my opinion has been underwhelming for a variety of reasons, then 4* RBs A. J. Davis (16 carries for 40 yds and a TD) and Mychale Salahuddin may see starting roles come their way sooner rather than later.

Davis had only spot duty last season and was not all that impressive but RBs need the ball early and often to really show what they have.  I wouldn’t mind one bit if either of these two kids were in the backfield on opening day – that are talented and want to make a mark.

Let’s hope anyway – our offense can’t live or die on only one good player (Pickett to date) but needs star play from other as well.

 

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s LBs

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s LBs

If you all remember I did a series of articles in June of 2017 that looked at the departing starters from the 2016 season and who I thought would be replacing them for 2017.  With that I assigned a grade of “Upgrade“, “Downgrade” or “Draw‘.

What I’ll do first is look at each position, or unit, along the offense as of today and write down who I think will be the starter and why it will be that guy.  Then I’ll assign a ranking of “Upgrade” if I see an upgrade, “Downgrade’ if I see a downgrade or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit. 

Last season Pitt fans had great hopes for our linebackers mainly because we were doing away with the “old” (Mike Caprara and Matt Galambos”) and ushering in “new” LBs, some of whom Narduzzi recruited.  How did that turn out for us? Pretty much with a resounding thud.  That thud started rumbling in the preseason when the heir apparent to the Middle Linebacker spot, SR Quentin Wirginis, was suspended for three games.

Then, pretty conveniently, Wirginis had a phantom ‘non-football’ (water skiing) accident which kept him out of the whole 2017 season.  Funny how that works, huh? His family owns the Gateway Clipper Fleet and he might not have been situationally aware enough to stay out-of-the-way of that big freakin’ paddle wheel when competing in the Greater Mon Slalom Course on his skis.

Either that or he was shrinking his nuts on a regular basis, but that would be covered by student privacy acts so who really knows?  Too bad the NCAA is looking at teams having to disclose injuries next season – I’d love to hear what actually went down.

Anyway, he was grounded all season so along with returner JR Sean Idowu and new starter JR Elijah Ziese we saw SO Saleem Brightwell fleet up to take Wirginis’ assumed place.

In essence we went from a LB corps who had followed the Narduzzi mandate of getting pressure on the QB in 2016 when our LBs were effective at doing just that. Galambos had 10.0 TFLs (-53 yds) and 5.0 Sacks (-42 yds)  and Caprara had 10.5. TFLs (-40 yds) and 5.0 sacks (-29 yds).  That was some of the best pressure play we have seen from out LBs in some time.

Our ’17 guys who replaced them fell off of that pace very dramatically with Brightwell having only 5.0 TFLs and 1.0 Sack and Ziese having 5.0 TFLs and zero Sacks.  The lone bright spot was Idowu getting 11.5 TFLs and 5.0 sacks to make up the deficit. So on the face of it you’d think that we’d just have to field a better LB corps for 2018, wouldn’t you?

Maybe we will but three out of our Top Four LBs (Wirginis, Idowu, Ziese and Brightwell) are still Chryst’s recruits with an average-playing Brightwell representing Narduzzi’s contribution.  Where was/is all the LB talent Pitt fans were so excited about when they were being recruited?  We’ve seen underclassmen play LB at Pitt in their first two years and do a great job but to date only Brightwell has cracked Pitt’s starting lineup.

What is the definition of insanity again?  Oh, right – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  I’ve always wondered why, since Narduzzi has been so transfer happy, he didn’t try to get a stud upperclassman or two to plug into our LBs but he seems to have been, and still is, satisfied with the talent on hand. I dislike his transfer policy anyway but hell, if he’s going to do it…

Well, the talent on hand is rather …how do you say this in English? -“Average” all around with the exception of Idowu who has gotten better in each his years of play.  He’ll again be the best of the existing and returning bunch I think.

Continue reading “POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s LBs”

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s QBs

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s QBs

If you all remember I did a series of articles in June of 2017 that looked at the departing starters from the 2016 season and who I thought would be replacing them for 2017.  With that I assigned a grade of “Upgrade“, “Downgrade” or “Draw‘.

What I’ll do first is look at each position, or unit, along the offense as of today and write down who I think will be the starter and why it will be that guy.  Then I’ll assign a ranking of “Upgrade” if I see an upgrade, “Downgrade’ if I see a downgrade or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit. 

Please remember that this is in comparison to the departed player and not a grade of the new player himself.  Thus a “downgrade” from NT when Aaron Donald departed would have been assigned even if it had have been anyone college and in the NFL almost and they would still have been a loss at that position.  So, let’s start that again with the team’s position units and the prospective starters and two-deep.

This will easily be the simpler one of all the units to write about.

In a nutshell we went from QB Nate Peterman who had the best year of any Pitt QB in ages if not in our total history (27 TDs to 7 INTs and 8th in the nation in Passing Efficiency with 163.4) , to transfer-in QB Max Browne who was already a has-been fleeing USC for greener pastures.  When Browne was injured in the first half of the Syracuse game – almost exactly at the halfway point of the season – he had not impressed anyone with his play.

Here is his year-end stat line:

Browne 17By the way – don’t let that season’s 142.7 pass efficiency rating of Browne’s fool you. If you take away the Rice game his rating over the rest of his season was a horrid 113.2. with no regulation-time TDs in any other games.

Continue reading “POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s QBs”

In the Midst of Recruiting…

In the Midst of Recruiting…

When fans talk about their team’s recruiting it always turns to whether recruits are good ones or not so good ones.  Which is pretty funny actually because you never know what is going to happen with the recruits from the minute they sign their Letter of Intent to their participating in spring or fall camps and on through the first few years of their eligibility.

What a lot of fans don’t take into account are all the variables that go into the transition from high school to college. These kids deal with being away from home and many for the first time, and handling a separation from family, friends and girlfriends, to changes in climate and to the rigors of academics at the college level just to name a few contributing factors to a smooth transition.

That doesn’t always happen the way it should.  For example Paris Ford, our highly rated 4* recruit, sat out his first year and took a redshirt because of a tough transition to college life.  That happens more than is publicly known and sometimes a redshirt has to be applied due to academic or disciplinary problems.

Fans can’t really know how all that will play out with individual recruits so we look at other variables that the recruit brings to the recruiting process; his star and numerical ratings by the recruiting websites, HS highlight films and other scholarship offers are what fans talk about the most when they discuss the relative merits of one recruit stacked up against others.

But what the fans see and what the recruiting scouts (both college’s and the recruiting sites’) see are two different things.  Fans watch the HS highlight clips and see only the great plays the recruit made – professional scouts request whole game films from the HS coaches so they get a 360° view of how the kid actually did over an extended period of play, usually a three game set of films.  This is why I have to laugh when a fan writes “I watched his highlights on the site and he should have been a 4* instead of a 3* recruit!”  Of course one would think that- those are the absolute best plays he made all year.

Sometimes, especially in the case of Pitt fans (and I suspect others schools as well) what geographical area the recruits are from seems to float their boat- that rings true especially now in Pitt’s 2019 class since we just have gotten commitments from seven recruits who hail from south of the Mason-Dixon Line (out of 14 so far), with a bunch from Florida,,, where apparently and automatically kids are bigger, stronger and are able to leap tall building with a single bound.

Recruiting is the prime example of “an inexact science” in my opinion and it always has been.  It is hard to tell just how good a player will be when you are on the outside looking in. Personally, I put more trust in the recruiting star rankings then some fans do.  But then again I have been watching recruiting unfold for over ten years now as I have been writing about the Pitt football program since 2009.  The recruiting sites get it right way more often than they get it wrong IMO especially when prescribing 4s or 5s to a recruit.

On the POV a common theme that runs through Pitt fans conversations is the difference between 4* and 3* recruits.  Some fans look at the numerical differences between a 5.7 kid who is given a 3* rating and a 5.8 kid who gets a 4* (or Blue Chip) rating and see just a 1/10th of a point difference.  But the text info copied below states Rivals.com grading system very clearly.  What is the difference maker is with that 1/10th of a point between 5.7 and 5.8 is the description given for the 4* recruits.

Another thing to realize is that unlike ESPN or 247’s ratings Rivals is all about the potential a recruit has for playing college ball.

Before you read the below this needs to be understood – the first ‘determination‘ a recruiting site scout looks for an individual high school player is which prospect description below the individual recruit fits into.  Once that is determined then they assigned the gradient ‘points’ number to the player.  For example, from the scouts observations and information gathered Player A is determined to be an All-American Candidate first and foremost so right away the scout is going to be awarding between a 5.8 and a 6.0 to that kid.

Then the scouts drill down to what numerical points the recruit should be awarded.  So the common belief that there is negligible difference between a 4* 5.8 recruit and a 3* 5.7 recruit just isn’t really true or applicable… it looks like it on the surface but because the second recruit didn’t meet the description of an “All-American Candidate”.  Again the very first level of designation is the textual description – not the numerical one.

6.1 = Five-star prospect

6.0-5.8 = Four-star prospect

5.7-5.5 = Three-star prospect

5.2-5.4 = Two-star prospect

6.1 Franchise Player: considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 30-35 players overall, a potential first-team All American candidate and a player deemed to have first round NFL potential.

6.0-5.8 All American Candidate: considered one of the next-tier elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation’s top 300-325 prospects overall, a national All American candidate and a player deemed to have first to third round NFL potential

5.7-5.5 All Region Selection: considered among the region’s top prospects and generally among the nation’s top 800-850 prospects overall, a potential All-Conference candidate and a player deemed to have mid to low-end pro potential and ability to impact at the college level.

There is a large gulf between saying someone had All-American potential vice All-Region potential and projecting the player to go in the first to third round in the  NFL draft vice maybe not getting drafted at all.

How has this worked out at Pitt?

Well, just as you think it might – the 4* and 5* players we have had have done better in relation to the 2* and 3* kids – accounting for the ratio of Blue Chippers to 3* roster makeup.  We sure see outliers in this sometimes – Greg Romeus was a 2* kid as was Devin Street – two very good and productive players for us in the past.  So yeah, it can happen but you don’t want to rely on lightning striking that way too many times.

Somehow readers on here feel that I believe 3* players are no good and can’t succeed and that just isn’t the case.  Our history is filled with 3* players who have gone on to be All-Conference and even All-American…every year almost a few 3* players rise above their peers and play lights out…Aaron Donald, James Conner and Brian O’Neill are just some of the latest in that line.

What I have said many times over is that if you have a roster full of 3* players you’ll be playing 3* football and that has been the case at Pitt over the years.  Believe me more 3* recruits play average ball or fail to get on the field way more often that another 3* kid turns into a star player at Pitt.

I have no problem with Pitt getting 3* players – the vast majority of eligible recruits are 3* kids but you have to grab the better ones, or the ones with more “stardom” potential whenever we can.  That takes a very strong recruiting staff and very good and solid connections with HS coaches.  A constant successful program has a good percentage of 4* recruits in relation to the number 3* recruits in each class.

But the bottom line is that if you are going to rely on recruiting classes consisting overwhelmingly of 3* players then some of those have to really break out and play at true stardom level. I mean have real star power out there – grand enough to take the game on their shoulders and will the team to victory.

Think about what Pitt football would have been like over the years 2011 through 2015 had we not had Aaron Donald and James Conner on either side of the ball?  A series of heavily losing seasons is what would have happened. They weren’t 4* kids but played at the ultimate All-American star level.

I believe this is where we have been falling down with recruits Narduzzi has been getting to commit to him to play ball at Pitt.

That commitment date is a key issue because it goes directly into the heart of the subject of what a head coach has to do to convince a high school player to come to his university and play in his football program.  The 12-24 months it takes to find, scout and assess and then convince a HS player, his parents and coach that Pitt is the best choice for him is truly where the hard work is done.

An inheriting new HC does have to keep the player committed to the school but if you look back at when most head coaching turnover has been in late December and early January you see that is so close to LOI signing Day (as opposed to the normal recruiting time of 12-24 months before) that almost all recruits stay with the school they committed to.

The main reason they do is 1) they want to attend and play at that college no matter who the coach is and 2) that all their other ‘best offers’ schools have their commitment quota met by that late date.  The latter happens more frequently than we know.

We saw an exception to this with the Wannstedt to Haywood to Graham turnover but that was a completely different animal because of the negative circus surrounding the firing of Wannstedt and the Haywood debacle.  But then the last two coaching changes went rather smoothly – especially this last one where I think maybe only one or two committed recruits shifted schools and didn’t sign with us.

When gauging a head coaches’ actual recruiting prowess it must start with who he got to commit, not who he had sign on at LOI Day for the reasons above.  Narduzzi is the coach of record for the full 2015 class but the bald fact is that the best players of that class, Whitehead, Hall, Henderson, Dane Jackson and Tre’ Tipton (to name a few) were recruited by and had committed, to another head coach.

That isn’t just an aberration either – we have seen a downward trend from the previous years over Narduzzi’s last two full recruiting classes – classes of 2017 and 2018 where we have seen only one 4* recruit and he’s had no early ‘breakout players’ of his own recruits since he’s been hired. That may change in this 2018 season but his last three years have been bereft of star recruits.

Here is the last 10 years of recruiting classes, including the unfinished 2019 class we are in the process of filling out now.  It encompasses our last four head coaches and you can see how things went them and how they not only recruited but got very good play from some kids who I called ‘stars’ in the table:

 

Recruit TableRight now we have verbal commitments from these 14 recruits in the class of 2019 which was ranked 27th after the June 15th weekend flurry of verbals and is currently ranked #37 (and dropping over the last month).

Class of 2019

Now there are some kids on there who will surely play decent ball for us in the future, that is pretty much assured in every recruiting class.  But when Pitt had that surprising recruiting weekend over June 15th and got commitments from so many Florida kids the fans’ praises went overboard in my opinion – but it was nice to see us ranked 27th or so nationally after that flurry of verbals.  It was a good start for sure but the real proof will be in the other 11 recruits we’ll get for 2010.

Again – note the absence of blue chip players on this list.  That’s why we have dropped from 27th to 37th… because we keep getting 3* or 2* kids committing to us while other teams around us are getting better ranked recruits.

There is a real myth of Florida recruiting also I believe. Below are our Florida recruits going back to the class of 2006 – so there are 12 years of results on the field to consider when reviewing these recruits.  Take a look at the list below and tell me how many of them were markedly better than any recruit from the Tri-State area…

Dexter Davidson, Greg Romeus,  Jared Martin, Tamarcus Porter, Jabaal Sheard, Ricky Gary, Greg Williams, Sherod Murdock,  Anthony Jackson,  Joe Trebitz,  Shane Gordon, Jason Douglas,  LaQuentin Smith,  Roderick Ryles, Ronald Jones and James Folston Jr.     

Can any of us really say that other than Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus those other Florida recruits were special in any way, shape or form?  Out of 15 Florida recruits only two made All- Big East or All-ACC and those were the two mentioned above.  Gee – I supposed if all we did was recruit Florida Defensive Ends we’d be in good shape!

So that is a myth that has been perpetrated among Pitt fans for some reason I can’t fathom.  Hell, we get much better players from New Jersey and New York than we do Florida.  I’ll take Dion Lewis, Ray Graham, TJ Clemmings, Jason Hendricks, K’Wuan Williams, Kevin Mosley-Smith, Quadree Ollison and Saleem Brightwell over all but two of the Florida recruits and these kids are from states Pitt fans’ turn their noses up to.

We’ll see this coming season how well a 22 starting player field of mostly Narduzzi-committed recruits will fare.  QB Kenny Pickett looks to be a future star and if that holds he’ll be the first of Narduzzi’s recruits to ‘break-out’ in his first two years. Other than he we really can’t point to any other Narduzzi recruit who has done so.  We are all keeping our fingers crossed for DB Paris Ford to do so but he hasn’t taken a snap yet.

But it won’t be all Narduzzi commitments; one has to look no further than 2018’s projected LB corps to see that they are all either previous walk-ons or Chryst recruits – Wirginis, Idowu and Zeise were here before this current HC signed on with only Brightwell being the Narduzzi kid.

The same can be said for the projected Offensive Line with Dintino, Bookser and Herndon being Chryst recruits and supplemented by a walk-on in Morrissey then most probably a transfer or two.

For those Pitt fans who feel that other Pitt fans are too negative about the immediate future of Pitt football this lack of strong recruiting is a very real reason to be concerned.  Pitt has made a living by having true “star” players in each and every one of our bigger winning season going back for some time.

Last year we didn’t have that and it showed in our play out on the field and in our season’s 5 wins and 7 loss record. We need for things to change quickly if we want this program to get back up to that 8, 9 or 10 win level and as it looks now that might be hard to do.  Let’s keep hoping two or three players really come through and surprise because without that happening some of us fans feel we’ll be looking at a possible repeat of 2017.

Biggest Personnel Disappointment(s)

Biggest Personnel Disappointment(s)

Submitted by Mark Kerestan (PittPT)

It is that time of year, right before the start of the pre-season football camp, when Pitt seemingly discloses a bombshell as to someone leaving the team for any of a number of reasons. This year unfortunately is no different, with the team announcing that Charles Reeves, monster (sized) 4-Star Tight End recruit, will no longer be a part of the team.

Some POVers have pointed out that this happens at every school, but to be honest I don’t pay enough attention to what is happening at other schools to know if that is true or not. Somehow it has seemed to happen at Pitt yearly since around 2010.

We will soon have plenty to discuss regarding the Two-Deep and offensive/defensive strategies with the players comprising the 2018 Pitt Squad. In the meantime I thought it might be interesting to discuss what promising recruit sticks in our minds as the biggest disappointment, whether the recruitment failed to play to expectations, was injured before achieving expected greatness, or couldn’t get on the field due to grades or other off-field issues?

I’ll start, and as I’m kind of tired and can’t seem to think too far back at the moment, I’ll pick the disappointment that is/was Rushel Shell. Here we had a very promising local HS star, coming to play for his hometown team.

There was a great article in Sports Illustrated before the season started hyping his potential. And then boom, he was part of the Panther group that didn’t get on the field for the first game of the Paul Chryst era, a group of six contributing players held out for disciplinary reasons. There were questions regarding Shell’s work ethic and attitude and he decided not to return to Pitt for his sophomore season.

One may wonder if James Conner would have gotten on the field as a running back if Rushel Shell played to his potential or what a tandem of the two might have looked like. If Rushel Shell did become a star for the Panthers, I suspect that it could have opened the pipeline for getting more of the top players in the WPIAL to commit to Pitt.

So Rushel Shell is my player choice for biggest Panther disappointment…What say you???