Little bit of a dead period with three weeks until the Bowl Game, and it looks like the coaches have hit the road to see if they can round out Pitt’s recruiting class.
As of writing this, the 2019 class is ranked a respectable 32nd on Rivals.com (which I consider to the be the authority on such matters). It comprises 20 commits and averages exactly three stars (cue loud yelling and catcalls from half of the Pitt fanbase…right about now.)
There is one four star recruit, the recently added Florida RB Daniel Carter.
Editor’s note: Pitt QB Davis Beville was upgraded to four stars after I wrote this. H2P!
And there is one two star recruit, the recently added South Carolina DE Nate Temple.
The rest of the recruits have three stars, and will be looked at to fill the roster spots vacated by 19 departing seniors, and probably also a couple of transfers out of the program.
So let’s start there. We are losing the following seniors:
WR – 2 – Rafael Arujo Lopes and Kellen McAlone. Lopes was solid this year. McAlone was a walk on that earned a scholarship (I think), and did not make an impact.
TE – 0 – That’s right they are all coming back. Whether or not we can recruit another one is a serious question.
RB – 2 – Quadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. If this is your first time on this site, then I am obliged to tell you they are the first 1000 yard rushing tandem in Pitt history. Hail to Pitt.
QB – 0 – No comments on this right now
PK – 0 – Kessman is the team MVP in my opinion
P – 0 – Kirk will only get better (we hope)
OL – 4 – All four were starters, and they were part of one of the better run blocking units in the country.
LB – 3 – All starters. We lost Quentin Wirginis midway through the season. The other two – Oluwasen Iwodu and Elijah Zeise were solid contributors, but not superstars.
FB – 1 – All-American Fullback (at least in my mind) George Aston. He will be nearly impossible to replace.
DL – 3 – Dwayne Hendrix, James Folston, and Shane Roy. All solid if unspectacular contributors.
DB – 3 – Dennis Briggs, Phillpe Motley and Colon Janov are graduating. Briggs played a lot and was solid against the run, although somewhat spotty in pass coverage. Motley was a solid cover guy. Janov played on special teams.
It’s important to understand that goal of recruiting is not to directly replace graduation losses with guys that are going to play immediately. Instead, the goal of recruiting is to build well-rounded depth for 3-4 years down the road. Of course there are always going to be exceptions.
Barring those exceptions, each class should build upon the next. Next year’s team will largely be the result of the successes (or mistakes) of 2014 and 2015, with a little bit of 2016 and 2017 sprinkled in. This year’s recruiting class will be a predictor of our team’s success in 2021 and 2022. It follows that by looking at our recruiting class today, we can in some ways predict the future.
Of course player development is also a factor. And whether or not the staff is developing Pitt’s players is again the subject for another post. Remember folks, we have a long offseason.
So let us focus on the incoming class. Question 1…are we at least replacing graduation losses? Question 2, are we building depth in areas where we are thin? Question 3 would be “are they four stars?” Or more accurately “are we upgrading the talent?”
The answer to the four star question is largely “no”.
The answer to the talent question is less clear.
In my opinion the best indicator of talent that is easily accessible to the fan base is a player’s high school highlight video. The eye test is real, and even if a recruit is a proverbial “man among boys” a video will give you clues to things like their athletecism, explosiveness and game speed.
Here’s an example: I don’t want to toot my own horn (too much…) but I remember watching four-star WR Ruben Flowers’ film and thinking to myself, “I’m not that impressed. He doesn’t look that fast, and he doesn’t look that athletic”. Lo and behold, Mr. Flowers currently does not have a roster spot. This could be for entirely different reasons that what I observed (I’m not an “insider”), but I do know I was not impressed by his film, and I know Flowers is no longer on the team. So there is that.
Another example is three-star redshirt freshman Jaylen Twyman. Jaylen is a defensive tackle. I remember watching his video and thinking to myself “Wow he’s really quick, and consistently gets good penetration, I bet he’s going to be a good one.” Sure enough he’s already flashed the ability to penetrate at the college level in his redshirt freshman year. I stand by my prediction that he’s going to be be very good.
All that to say, I don’t know if the incoming class has more raw talent than the graduating class, because it’s three-star guys replacing three-star guys.
What’s more, the only way for me (or anyone else on this blog) to truly answer the talent question would be to look at every single highlight video side by side, and subject each player to the eye test. Yes it’s still somewhat subjective, but it’s certainly more data-based then simply saying we are not upgrading because we are not getting four-stars.
Editors note: In-Depth video analysis would be a great offseason activity, so look for this during the long dark days of winter.
What we can focus on now are questions #1 and #2: Are we replacing our losses? Are we building depth?
The answer is, for the most part is yes. As evidenced by the following table:
A couple of observations here:
Note that we will only have 12 OL unless we grab one or two more. I think we’d all feel more comfortable if we had 14 or 15 so we could go three-deep. It looks like OL coach Dave Borbley and company are chasing a couple more guys, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t land at least one. As some of you will likely point out, there will probably also be an OL transfer.
I also think it’s fair to point out that FB George Aston is a converted walk-on linebacker and so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the staff does that again. The trick of course is finding the right guy.
Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing us sign another Running Back as well, although from what I understand there is a 6′ 3″ 240 lb linebacker recruit (Brandon George) whose high school video looks very similar to one Mr. James Conner. I have no idea if the staff will flip George to RB, but I think the entire fan base would watching those lightweight ACC defensive backs get trucked on a regular basis.
All in all, for better or worse, this class is very Narduzzi. He’s shown a good ability to recruit three-star depth at nearly every position, and he’s also shown a marked inability to consistently bring in four star talent. So far, the Narduzzi approach has translated into a slightly-better-than-.500 team in a weak division. It’s likely that without anything changing this trend will continue, at least for the next four years.
Well at least we aren’t Rutgers.
Hail to Pitt!