The Pat Signal went up yesterday, and while many people thought it heralded the signing of a walk-on backup kicker (Sam Scarton), it actually signaled something even more unexpected.

A linebacker.

SirVocea Dennis is a two-star linebacker commitment who hails from Syracuse, New York. According to Panther Lair, Dennis spent a year at the Peddie-School in New Jersey (good thing he didn’t get offered by Penn State…) and had committed verbally to Air Force before backing out due to concerns over allergies and sleep apnea…

Dennis’ offer list is long, but not exactly distinguished. His three FBS offers were Western Michigan, Air Force and (surprise?) UMass. You would hope that this is due to his injury history. I am slightly concerned that his hometown school of Syracuse didn’t offer him after his junior year, but hey colleges miss on people in their backyard all the time. Anybody remember WVU quarterback (and Pitt Panther Killer) Marc Bulger?

Dennis’ highlight reel actually surprised me, especially because he’s a two-star. While you can never tell 100% about a recruit from a HUDL highlight video, there are some things that become apparent. First, Dennis has some burst and some sideline to sideline speed. Second, he appears to have some good football instincts. Third, he’s got some good athleticism, and not a bad arm! (Note that I do not think he will end up at quarterback)

By the same token I remember watching video of late-in-the-game-two-star-wide-receiver (from Texas!) Gentry Ivery and saying to myself ‘wow that guy can really run and catch’, so there is a real chance that SirVocea Dennis isn’t even on the team two years from now.

But regardless of how Dennis pans out as a player, his signing begs the question…why a linebacker?

A quick look at the prospective 2019 depth chart shows we’ll have seven scholarship linebackers returning, and three more signed in the 2019 class. That’s a total of 10, which is good for a solid three deep +1. On top of that, our linebacker play, while not spectacular, has been at least solid so LB is not exactly an area of need.

Meanwhile, the offensive line, which is clearly an area of need, has only 11 returning scholarship players (including our recent grad-transfer), and only two in the 2019 class (because I’m not counting Nick Malone). That’s a total of 13 linemen, which is a two-deep +3. I shouldn’t need to remind you that offensive line is a position where players typically need three years to develop physically before they can really hold their own.

I suppose it’s fair to say that we have two Tight Ends in the roster that could be easily converted to offensive tackle (6-7, 280 Grant Carrigan and 6-5, 290 Carson Van Lynn), which puts us at 15 O-linemen on the roster, which is a full three-deep, but if that’s the case, then we become seriously thin at tight end. Either way, it feels like some resources might be misallocated here.

And so here is where the speculation begins…

Maybe an incoming linebacker is being moved to another position. Did anyone see (linebacker recruit) Brandon George’s Running Back Highlight Video?

http://www.hudl.com/video/3/5404387/5ba7b3abda51550de03bd649

Just for reference here is another not-recruited-as-running-back highlight video for a player that turned out to be a pretty good running back:

http://www.hudl.com/video/3/1106017/5721abd764e96b6380dd6e1b

If not Running Back then maybe defensive end? Brandon George also has the size and speed Narduzzi covets in a rush-end (listed at 6-3, 230).

Or perhaps the staff is secretly planning to turn the athletic SirVocea Dennis into a pass-catching tight end? He’s a little bit on the short side (6’1″) but he appears to have the speed and quickness to beat most linebackers. Or perhaps they want to turn him into a slot receiver. You can easily see Whipple making a case for this, given Dennis’ hands.

Or maybe another linebacker is leaving the team. Remember that Elias Reynolds, who started most of the the season after Quentin Wirginis went down with an injury, didn’t travel to El Paso. Is the staff betting that we won’t return at all?

Or maybe the staff simply recruited SirVocea Dennis for what he is, a developmental linebacker prospect, with above average football intelligence and instincts, who may develop into a contributor and can help the team in a lot of intangible ways.

Let the speculation begin…and Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo

121 thoughts on “Pat Signs…A Linebacker?

  1. MM, good one about the Peddie School and PSU. I agree that he really showed a burst and good speed and instinct on highlight film, but also agree that highlights are to be taken with a grain of salt.

    On the plus side, Dion Lewis played in the same prep school league and the only other D1 school that offered him was Tulane. In NJ/NYC, if you don’t play for a school that begins with St. or Holy or ends with Bosco, you can be easily overlooked or not be taken too serioisly

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  2. A BTW, keep in mind…… This new LBer recruit (Dennis) is rated about the same as Aaron Donald was coming out of high school. Food for thought and I ask, is your glass half full or half empty?

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  3. Here is a positive spin on the recruitment of Devonshire –

    Pitt has 2 DB’s signed in this class and two starters will graduate after the 2019 season.

    Kentucky has 5 DB’s signed in this class.

    WVCC has 3 DB’s and 3 ATH’s that look Lyke DB’s in this class – PLUS there was the “riot” on Friday by students on the snow covered roads in back country where police were assaulted by drunk wvcc students.

    We shall see next week, but in the meantime, lighten up Ffrancis, we seem to be in the lead.

    H2P!

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  4. Michaelangelo— good article, as usual.

    I wonder too about the positional balance of the Doozer’s recruiting. Like why have we signed 42 defensive ends?

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if we signed 5 OTs in next year’s class…

    One thing about Sir Dennis is that at his size and apparent speed, if all else fails he can play special teams…

    Go Pitt.

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    1. I would be very disappointed (and so should all panther fans) if we don’t sign five OL in next years class

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      1. MM – I agree on signing 5 offensive linemen each class as the goal.

        My point was the Doozer seems to sign bunches of guys for the same specific position — hence he might sign 5 guys who are offensive-tackle types and zero guys who are guard/center types.

        Hopefully an exaggeration on my part. 😊

        Go Pitt.

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  5. BTW, per my son, it was 20 years ago this week that Antonio Bryant signed with Pitt. He had verbaled to Louisville, but Walt won him over – giving AB the last scholarship…

    AB was one of my all-time favorite Pitt WRs. What a talent he was.

    Hope we have an Antonio B. in this recruiting class…

    Go Pitt.

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      1. I remember AB’s first game at Pitt Stadium. His first TD pass signaled he was special.

        I don’t remember the opponent, but AB caught the ball in the end zone by reaching behind the helmet of the defender, catching the ball, and holding onto it there behind that guy’s helmet… Sweet!

        Go Pitt.

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        1. I remember that vividly in the scoreboard endzone of Pitt stadium. I also remember calling a friend of mine who couldn’t make it to the game, and telling him that Pitt got itself a gem

          Liked by 1 person

      1. no that was a basketball player from Europe .. Donatas Zavackas. I remember AB being kind of a hotdog at Pitt but not the trouble he was in his last couple of years in the NFL

        Liked by 1 person

  6. we are still 3 days from 2019 LOI, and Franklinstein has already got 4 commits for 2020 … and one for 2021! 3 of the 5 are from Maryland.

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  7. Super article about Aaron Donald by Brian Batko in the PG. Highly recommend you read it.

    Mentions Reed’s old buddy, Inoke Breckterfield, the defensive line coach, and how when AD was a senior they’d have to pull AD off the field during practices “so the offense could function. “

    Talks about poor starting Olineman Ryan Schlieper who had to go against AD every day in practice…

    Good Stuff.

    Hail to Pitt.

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  8. more evidence that HCPN took MM’s blog article to heart

    Chris Peak@PantherLair
    #Pitt was impressed with Rickey Hyatt Jr’s film, but his work in the classroom sold the staff on an offer.

    and again … I’m sticking to it

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  9. So in the NFL now, the defenders are required to not tackle the player until he establishes himself after a catch? I don’t even know why I’m watching this stupid game?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Goff looks a lot like Kenny out there. Constantly under pressure, throwing to covered receivers, taking a sack when he probably should have thrown the ball away ….hard to be effective when you’re running for your life.

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  11. The Steelers could have beat either of these teams. What a shame they are self destructing. Tomlin says the standard is the standard and nothing less. I guess it doesn’t apply to players personal behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The Rams got beat bad in the pits….the place where every Super Bowl is won. That has to be the worst Super Bowl of all time though, especially with the new rules in place.

    That garbage holding call and later dropped TD pass killed them.

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  13. Steelers lost two games by fumbles in the fourth quarter as they were already ahead and driving around the other teams 30 yard line late in the 4th quarter (Denver and Chargers).. Those two losses cost them 2 wins.

    Not to say that they would have made the Super Bowl but it is what it is in football.

    AD gave us a lot of free publicity in this game. H2P.

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  14. Paying AB for not playing the Steelers’ last game really revealed how far they have fallen. Would Belechik have done that? No discipline and as a result no play offs.

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  15. SirVocea was a safety when he played in Syracuse and was switched to LB last year. He could play either position at Pitt as I’m sure Narduzzi and Bates would love to see his speed being utilized at either position. For what it’s worth I don’t think a 205 lb outside linebacker is undersized in college ball today.

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    1. The staff has also done of a good job of adding weight to the linebackers. Ziese was like 185 as a frost and he’s graduating at around 225 I think

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  16. Thanks Brother Ike for the song on the previous thread…you know me well.
    Highlight of the super bowl halftime show for me was Squidward and Sponge Bob. Haha.
    Maybe Heather can get them for the ACC opener.

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    1. yea, he pitched for the Bucs when they became my first favorite sports team. But didn’t know that he is still Pirates’ all-time leader in innings, starts and strikeouts.

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    2. My first sports memories are of those late 50’s and 60’s Pirates, still remember most of their names.
      Can only name a handful of current players.Still amazing that they beat the mighty Yankees.

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      1. while I don’t remember a nickname for Friend or Dick Groat, I remember ,,,

        c Smokey Burgess
        1b Rocky Nelson
        2b Maz
        ss Groat’s back-up Ducky Schofield
        3b the Tiger Don Hoak
        lf the Dog Bob Skinner
        cf the Quail Bill Virdon
        rf The Great One
        SP the Deacon Vern Law
        the Kitten Harvey Haddix
        and of course my favorite, Wilmer ‘Vinegar Bend” Mizell
        RP The Baron of the Bullpen Elroy Face

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  17. @VOR – Belichik would have released AB long before he was AB. That is the difference between Belichik and Tomlin. Belichik controls his players emotionally and lets his scheme and off field film study on tendencies position him to win. Every part from his teams can be replaced. He out schemes every other coach because he works harder and smarter than every other coach. Hands down, no contest. It’s not about number of hours at a facility. You can spend 20 hours a day at the facility and have only two productive ones. It’s what you do when noone is watching.

    For the past couple of seasons I have said that Tomlin was out. Last year they couldn’t find anyone better in their minds. This year, no coach (better than Tomlin) would come into this dumpster fire where the players call the shots (AB, Ben, Bell). It is up to the coach to make the team out of individuals.Tomlin has always had it backwards and it is a fine line. Too many individuals doing their thing for the Steelers to ensure success for themselves over their team. This is also why Saban wins….and Urban. They get the team to buy in completely.

    As far as recruiting, I wrote a few years ago about demographics and where the highest percentage of high school seniors will be matriculating to higher education from. Higher Ed is about to hit a cliff in high school senior graduations in the midwest such as michigan, Ohio, PA, etc. Graduation growth will be along the east coast. That is why the Big10 went after Rutgers and Maryland. It wasn’t about TV sets (although that helps). Rather, it is about accessibility to graduating seniors in high school. The Big10 is branding towards the east coast population. For that reason, I am happy to see we hired someone with experience in VA/DC/Baltimore area. Would have loved to pick up Jeff Hafley too when he was available.

    Didn’t Bob Friend once own the golf course where the first POV Golf Invitational was held?

    Catch yinz later n nat.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Greatest Super Bowl ever for BigB…put $100 in a pool and one of my 2 spots was 3-3….let me say “that worked out quite nicely !!!” Might parlay my winnings with Power Ball…

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    1. no lie, Tony Dungy cost me $500 in the SB after 1978 when Pgh beat Dallas 35-31. I had Pgh 5 Dallas 4 on a $10 a block poll. Cowboys scored with about 2 min left to make it 35-24, and then Dungy fumbled the onside kick, and Dallas would score a TD in final minute or so.

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    2. I had Patriots 3, Rams ) – hit for 150 at the half and if the Rams had gone for – and made a TD late to bring it to 13-10, would’ve really cleaned up. And they say the game was boring….
      😀

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    1. or … Hoover 6 to Hoover 4 to Hoover 3

      then after that …. Scoops Oliver, the gravedigger Rich Hebner, the Maryland strongboy Bobby Robertson

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  19. A PITT game three years ago we stayed at the Springhill Suites across from PNC park. (maybe psu game) The Pirates were honoring the 71 world series team…. Scoops was the MC (story teller) in the hotel lobby/lounge. Robertson, Stennet, Hernadez and a bunch of other former Buccos were staying there. Al was really cool and just loved talking about the Glory Days. no song for now.

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  20. No doubt the Steelers have had the most talent the last few years and a lack of discipline and execution has hurt them. I think that Ben is the most talented least productive QB that I have seen. Way too up and down, he hasn’t made the big plays when they count since the throw to Santonio Holmes. Way to much drama on the team, which has gone uncontrolled from Plexico Burress to Bell and Brown, and many in between, it is always something. Blount was the only one they let go and that ended up really hurting when as usual, Bell got hurt.

    But it all starts with Ben, he got the big money, he is a jerk and everyone is resentful. They have always handled him with kid gloves and he has not produced results in the playoffs for the last 8 years when they have been loaded with talent. He is in no way a leader, even though the drama has lessened, he is still the biggest drama queen on the team. He is good enough to keep the Steelers competitive, but consistently fails to win the big ones. This year the Steelers lost to the two worst teams in football. Great teams don’t do that.

    The difference with the Patriots is that Brady has the will to win, doesn’t care if he makes the big play as long as they win. Teams that spend all their time working on their end zone choreography don’t win the big games.

    AB and Bell may be the best in the game, but far from team players No one told them there is no I in team. That goes double for Ben,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did anyone notice that the Patriots ran the ball for the winning TD last night? 1st down and goal at the two…no empty set formation with these guys. on that down and distance. And they did that in the preceding playoff games as well. Steelers have reputedly one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and we see empty sets on 1st downs in the red zone. SMH.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. LOL John, I was going to add Alvin O’Neil but I figured that was his real name. Did Big Bob Veale have a nickname. That man could sweat in the Arctic.

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    1. I remember he wore those glasses and was always wiping them off

      but they weren’t as thick as Pete ‘the Vulture’ Mikkelson’s

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    1. No doubt coaches are ultimately responsible, but Cowher had Ben when he was a kid who handed off the ball to his running backs. The biggest play he made in that playoff run was a tackle after the Bettis fumble. This was also before he conked his head on the pavement and became a known sexual predator.

      Ben would rather throw the tough pass than pick up the easy first down. Always more concerned with his individual stats. Looking to be the hero. The Steelers surrounded Ben with an amazing array of weapons, many who became frustrated with him. How many of his team mates complain about Brady?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the writing is on the wall with the last pick up. A two star with no P-5 offers says a lot about where we are with recruiting. Hope he turns out to be a gem, but really another stretch.

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        1. Any shot that GETS OUT of the sand trap is a good shot for me… 😊

          Can’t believe Sergio did that. It’s his putting that normally kills him…

          Go Pitt.

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  22. ^^ See this is why I could never be a really good golfer… I never could care all that much about the game that I really enjoyed. I just liked being out on a golf course and could care less about my score. I didn’t see it as a sport or competition, it was fun and relaxing to me. The doobies help of course.

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  23. according to Dorin Dickerson, Armande Dellovade just passed. A long time big booster, perhaps some of you knew him.

    I met him a couple of times at Pitt FB games. For many years, he held a blockful of season passes on the visitors side of Heinz Field in the lower section of the 50 yard line which he would give out to his friends in Washington County / Monongahela. Seemed like a really good guy, and a great Pitt fan.

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    1. Sad to hear this. I didn’t know him but anytime we lose an ardent Pitt fan (much less a booster) it’s a sad day

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  24. Dave Havern begged the coaching staff at Pitt to take him. They would not even walk down to Central to watch him throw.
    It also cost the school 2 primo female hoopers.
    SOP

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      1. Another local QB we missed on was Mike McMahon from North Allegheny. I don’t remember the recruiting story on him but he started at Rutgers for 4 years from around 1997. He was good – could run and throw — I always thought he would have been great with Walt.

        McMahon was a 5th round draft pick and played 5 years in the NFL as a backup.

        Go Pitt.

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  25. Huff, Tomlin needs to go. I just don’t understand what they see in that guy. Hopefully, some of the current Steelers are embarrassed enough and they will realize this could have been another SB year. Now the Pats have caught them and we will see if there is any motivation next year, or if a complete rebuild is needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Hey Richard.. I wonder how many former four and five start players are in the portal? Seems to me that these hot shot high school players flock to the same schools and get lost in the surrounding talent. Probably the $$ but many get short changed in the end. imo.

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  27. Thank you Richard, if you want the job done right you go to the right guy, which you are. Not sure if my point “transferred” through but it’s how the star ranking and team recruiting ranking can be askew at times. NO! I’m not saying stars do not matter but I don’t think they tell the whole story with the second ten type teams.

    Think about how many 4 and 5 star players sit on the bench for the Bama’s of the world? Now think….. why do these kids sit on the bench? If you think hard and long enough… you know why PITT is where they are right now $$$$ ike

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    1. Is the yawn because Paris Ford was a disappointment because I don’t think he was a disappointment at all. Yes, he was better as a run defender than a pass defender but that’s only because he was sensational against the run and just good against the pass. Devonshire isn’t in the same class as Ford – maybe two classes down.

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  28. a couple things about the transfer portal

    — transfers, both undergrad and grad, are clearly an integral part of NCAA sports nowadays.

    — the issue of timing really muddles up recruiting. You have the early signing period to go along with all these transfers, and apparently a couple of new transfers are showing up even now. The VT WR didn’t enter his name until a week ago.

    — to further complicate the issue, many of these players who enter the portal may not transfer and stay with the current team. This puts a strain on the current coaches, both from a relationship level and a numbers issue (number of scholarships allowed),

    — it will be a while for college coaches to adjust to this

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    1. Good points wwb, what the NCAA needs to do is close the window a bit and clean up this transfer BS that has been thrust upon them. Change and make some new rules accordingly. Can’t let the inmates run the asylum but if they are stuck with this new college free agency then govern it the best you can with rules like you’re in or your out. If I were a coach?….. When you stick your toe into the portal…. you’re scholarship has been revoked and that goes for anyone and everyone regardless of stardom. Set precedent ASAP!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. switching to basketball

    — Pitt is a 2,5 favorite tonight at Wake. Wake has only one win in ACC while Pitt has yet to win a true away game

    — looks like Sean Miller is not out of the woods yet. Hate to say it but I have a hard time believing that head coaches have no knowledge of what their assistants are doing. Pitino claimed he was innocent but further evidence proved otherwise.

    — back to Pitt. Capel has been quoted a couple times in the past two weeks about Pitt not getting the calls, and the disparity of free throws lately between Pitt and opponents. Hey Jeff …. you are not coaching the Dookies anymore. Now you know how the other half lives.

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  30. For the first time, just watched high school video of both Devonshire and Paris Ford.

    Agree with the comment above that Ford looks to be the BETTER Athlete and Prospect.

    In fact, at last year’s Spring Game… Ford looked more athletic than most of the other Players just standing around.

    Obviously, he needs to get his head on straight… which is surprising considering how mature he came across in his initial pressers.

    Had me fooled.

    But WATCH OUT if and when he finally does get it together!

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  31. However, the business at hand is Devonshire.

    Deservedly or not he is a FOUR Star… and Narduzzi (aka the reputed Defense and D-Back “Guru”) can really send a message IF he were land him.

    Devonshire Day = State of the Program.

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  32. 6&34…. yawnnnn due to his lack of contribution during his time in a PITT uniform… was expecting a “Jordon Whitehead “ immediate impact kinda player… that was just my expectation…..

    Liked by 1 person

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