Here is a well-researched article by Brian Ferrari, aka “notrocketscience”, and it should give some good food for thought as we head into spring ball in the next couple of weeks.

We have much discussion about Pitt recruiting on the POV.  This year’s class is considered too low in rank by almost everyone.  Some believe all of Narduzzi’s classes were ranked too low. I am not one of those people.  I feel all of the classes, with the exception of this year, were on par for what Pitt can accomplish with their football budget.  I also feel Pitt football can reach a level of success we all expect with those classes. For me, that is eight to nine wins per year with occasional ten win seasons.  Top 25 rankings should happen.

Let’s forget where Pitt’s classes have been ranked by Rivals.  After all, it has zero impact on how the players are ultimately developed by the coaches.  An eighteen year old kid changes a lot in four to five years. Instead, let’s look at the players on the current roster that contributed last year and are poised to contribute more this coming year.  How good are they? Has Pitt developed them? Do we see potential NFL draft picks?

In my opinion, there is better talent on this team than there has been in some time.  Narduzzi has been holding players back that clearly have the potential to be better than some of the upper class leftovers.  In doing so, he is building depth at each position and slowly developing the players. The defense has fallen into place, the offense is behind because of the attrition of upper class OL /TEs as well as lack of WR/QB development under Sean Watson’s 1930s offense.  The norm under Narduzzi will be that most kids do not start until their RS SO, JR, RS JR year after they have developed.  They slowly get more playing time as they get older. It is an old school mentality.  Obviously there will be exceptions for super talented players. It is not a negative reflection of recruiting if the team does not have FR or RS FR starting.  It is actually the opposite, it shows the team has built depth.

Some will argue Narduzzi’s best players so far were Chryst recruits.  Well, daah! Some stayed long after Chryst left, of course they ended up being starters eventually and good players.  They were a big part of the roster, but now the Narduzzi recruits are coming into their own.

Because of the above mentioned attrition, the current roster has only nine SR and RS SRs that were recruits.  The rest are transfers and walk-ons. Compare that to the eighteen JR and RS JRs. Again, most of that loss was on offense.

So out of the small senior class (not all listed below), we have four that have excelled and three that are big contributors.  

Seniors:

Maurice Ffrench 3 star – Yes QH was an incredible returner but Ffrench is a better all-around offensive weapon.  Look as his improvement over the years and that is under Watson’s offense for God’s sake.

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 8.55.30 PM
Maurice Ffrench

Damar Hamlin 4 star – Unlike Whitehead’s descending stats as he got older, Hamlin’s are on the rise in a great way.  If he stays healthy, he ends his career better than Whitehead.

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Damar Hamlin

Amir Watts 4 star – Pitt’s DL has slowly become better with the influx of Narduzzi recruits.  It is hard to measure them all by stats because they rotate so much but all have become better.

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Amir Watts

Others: Mathews

RS Seniors:

Dane Jackson 2 star – Three year starter.  Pitt’s best cover guy in those three years.  He was better than Maddox when Maddox played opposite him.  

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Dane Jackson

Others: Brightwell, Stocker

Out of all the recruiting classes, the junior classes has impacted the defense the most.  I think this is where the development of players is starting to shine through. This year will be even bigger because the younger LBs will now be starters and will be better than Zeise and Idowu.  On offense, the impact will be on OL and RB. Remember, these kids have two years to play still. The players I listed as ‘Others’ still could become excellent players at Pitt. Like Pickett, Brandon Ford, Phil Campbell and Mathis.

Juniors:

Jason Pinnock 3 star:  Played good for his first year starting.  Had 2 INTs. He will end up a three year starter at Pitt.

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 8.58.53 PM

AJ Davis 4 star:  I know, I know, he hasn’t been a regular yet but he will be the feature back this year and next.  No real stats to post here. Has been limited to 32 carries but averages 4.2 yards per carry. Watch for him and Sibley to take off this year.  Again, he waited his turn behind two one thousand yard rushers. That doesn’t take away from his talent. It happens at most programs. (Editor’s Note, I included AJ Davis’ stats even tough the author did not.  I’ve also added Darrin Hall’s stats for comparison.  At this stage, Hall was the better back, but not by much.  Notice the breakout in year three.)

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AJ Davis
Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.02.06 PM
Darrin Hall

Others: Pickett, Mathis

RS Juniors:

Keyshon Camp 3 star:  Pitt’s best DT.  He was sorely missed after his injury.  Shared time as Pitt rotates the DLs. I think it is safe to assume he would have bettered his FR stats if he stayed healthy.

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.04.26 PM
Keyshon Camp

Rashard Weaver 2 star:  Pitt’s best DL and sure NFL draft pick.  Two star recruit? Really?

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.05.15 PM
Rashad Weaver

Editor’s Note: for comparison purposes I’ve added Jabaal Sheard’s college stats below.  He played for Dave Wannstadt, and was the 37th overall pick in 2007.  It could be argued that Weaver had a better sophomore campaign against stiffer competition.  

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.07.44 PM
Jabaal Sheard

 

Patrick Jones 2 star:  7 TFLs and 3.5 sacks as a backup.  He will be the other excellent DE opposite Weaver that Hendrix never became.  

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.10.57 PM
Patrick Jones

Rashad Wheeler 3 star

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Rashad Weaver

Elias Reynolds 2 star

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.13.33 PM
Elias Reynolds

Chase Pine 3 star

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.15.57 PM

Others: Hargrove 3 star, Morrissey walk on, Mack transfer, Coleman, Campbell, Garner, Kessman, Brandon Ford

The sophomores are hard to evaluate.  It is just too early to tell because most have only played a little.  If they move into starting roles on offense as the juniors did on defense last year, then Pitt will be in good shape.  This group will have the biggest impact on the OL in years to come. I can see one of them starting this year at OT and/or OG.  WR will be very interesting this year being that three guys below got their feet wet this past year and they obviously have talent.

Sophomores:

Shockey Jacques-Louis, V’Lique Carter

RS Sophomores:

Paris Ford, Sibley, Cam Bright, Jaylen Twyman, Carrigan, Van Lynn, Christodoulou, Bulter-Jenkins, Deslin Alexandre and six OL.

So what are your thoughts?  So far, has Narduzzi and staff developed the 2 and 3 star recruits to a point where they are quality ACC players?  Did Pitt find diamonds in the rough with 2 star players Jackson, Jones, Weaver and Reynolds or did Pitt do a great job of developing them?  Maybe a little of both. Maybe the star ranking are often BS.

One thing that stands out to me is that we are just getting into Narduzzi’s recruits becoming the core of the team.  Notice the slow increase in games played for most. That is how you develop players and when their time comes they are ready to step in.  The junior list, with two years to play is impressive to me.  I believe there is more than enough talent mentioned above for Pitt to be good in the upcoming years.  The key will be players on offense emerging as they did on defense. That HAS to happen this year. I think Narduzzi made a mistake last year not starting at least one of the younger OL.  Although Hargrove, Carrigan TE, Van Lynn and Ford saw playing time.

You may think I am bat-crap crazy but I see NFL draft picks in Hamlin, Jackson, Ffrench, Weaver, Camp, Jones and more.  Only time will tell if that pans out, but Pitt can easily match the average amount of players they have had drafted in recent years.  So to me, at a minimum, their talent level is the same or better and the players are developing nicely. College football is all about player development and I think Pitt is doing quite well.  Time may prove me wrong.

 

74 thoughts on “Are Pat and Staff Developing Players?

  1. NotRocket — I’m envisioning your article producing steam coming out of Reed’s ears! 😊

    But you present some interesting food for thought…

    My biggest disappointments with recruiting / player development has been with the OL and the linebackers.

    We need to do better. I can understand the problem with the OL based on maybe a faulty approach by the previous OL coach. Linebackers, though, you’d think would be a Doozer strength.

    We keep getting these 200 pounders and they just don’t seem to fly around and make plays — and they seem to struggle putting on muscle.

    Looking forward to seeing progress this spring and fall.

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  2. Very well written and thought provoking article “notrocket”.

    There is no doubt 4 and 5* recruiting matters. Pitt has not only lost out on the upfront recruiting battles for these types of players, several of the ones they’ve landed were lost to transferring.

    R.Flowers WR
    K.Pugh LB/RB
    C.Reeves TE

    Then there is the health issue keeping talent off the field-

    G. Hill ATH

    Or this talent leaves early for the NFL –

    J.Whitehead DB

    And finally the ones who do stay with the program have not shown their collective stars, yet.

    P.Ford DB
    A.Davis RB (behind 2 SR 1,000 yard rushers)
    M.Salahuddin RB (showed flashes in limited playing time as a trFR)
    D.Hamlin DB (became a team leader as a full time starter last season)
    A.Watts DL (starter but not spectacular)
    D.Hall RB (breakout SR year, but never took a RS)
    D.Beville QB (enrolled January 2019)

    That is twelve 4* recruits SIGNED by Narduzzi.

    The top 15 teams are signing that many 4 and 5* players in every class. Fortunately for Pitt, football is a team sport where “schemes” can win. Look at 2016’s O and our new OC Whipple has talent to work with. I know, “schemes” can cost a team too, look at 2016’s D.

    K.Picket QB – starter for 1 full season.
    M.Ffrench WR (needs more touches)
    T.Mack WR
    A.Mathews WR
    W.Gragg TE (4* not mentioned above – transfer from Arkansas)
    T.Sibley RB (plus three other RB’s mentioned above with 4* rankings)

    The OL was a concern last season and continues to be in 2019. Borbs and Whip need to concoct a winning combination for 2019 for this team to be successful.

    The D should be fine with much more mature depth filling out the roster. We are light at DE when it comes to experience, but not numbers.

    We have about one week until Spring Camp begins – will the gates be locked again this year?

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  3. Thanks for the article NRS. More thought provoking data. But I believe (hope is probably a better word) that there are many players that can really make this team pretty competitive are the ones who have not accumulated much data …. beginning with Taysir Mack, J-L Shockey, V Carter who along with Ffrench and Tipton will benefit by our new OC. Also, there are certainly more potential at RB than just Davis.

    Of course, all of this will be dependent upon the development of the OL where there is very little data to analyze. Morrisey and Hagraves are the only two wo have started. There are plenty of 3-stars and even a 4-star or two that can fill the bill, but that remains to be seen.

    IMO. the one area that definitely has improved since Narduzzi took over is the DB, and it’s not even close. There is also some promising DL returnees with not only the ones listed above, but Twayman and Alexandre has shown some promise with little PT … but also local DL Devin Danielson who as a natural frosh also saw some PT this past season.

    But IMO (just like the OL) just how good the defense is this year will depend the LBs. Reynolds, Pine and Brightwell all have shown some talent from time to time, but they will be pushed by Bright, Davis and McKee.

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  4. Recruiting at Pitt has been OK at best. And as mentioned when Camp went down the DL took a step back. So IMO Pitt will be OK absent a rash of injuries. I’m fairly certain that the lack of depth will be Pitt’s downfall if those rash of injuries surface.

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    1. Isn’t it interesting how when a 3* starter in K.Camp goes down with an injury, and a 4* back-up in A.Watts steps in, that the DL suffers. How is that even possible?

      IMO, the Rivals star rankings miss out on measuring heart and desire. See A.Donald, D.Lewis and J.Conner, to name a few.

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  5. Ratings do matter …. I mean Alabama, Georgia and Clemson have been at or near the top every recent year (of course, they all also situated in an area surrounded by HS talent). And they are especially important for the teams who actually have a chance to win a national title.

    But ratings are far from the only thing, especially for a team like Pitt who are not going get the blue chips. But every February in college FB, the ratings is what everyone talks about. Geez, it seemed that Narduzzi’s entire reputation was based on whether Pitt was going to get a local star or not …. a player who may or may not be a great college player.

    Well guess what? Narduzzi will not get a PA 4-star next year either. Right now, Rivals show only two 2020 blue chips in the entire state of PA. Julian Fleming, a 5* star WR from Columbia about an hour east of State College, and Mike Carmody a 4* OL from Mars … about 30 minutes north of Oakland. BTW, Pitt was the very first to offer Carmody, last spring. However, if you look at the Rivals profile of each, you will see that Fleming has already visited State College a dozen times and Carmody six times. Carmody may have visited Pitt but it is not listed.

    Note that all of these visits are at the expense of the recruit …. schools can only offer one official visit although I’m sure they are fed once they get to the school and probably also given some school apparel, etc. and free entry to the sporting event if they visit on gameday.

    It is what it is …. so get used to it

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  6. Thanks for the great article NRS, real nice work.

    I feel it’s fairly easy to pick out the 4 and 5* players in high school, although there are certainly players that don’t live up to their lofty expectations. It’s the 3* players and lower that become a crap-shoot. Many of these types of kids haven’t developed physically or overall maturely. They are more like projections and how a certain young many may fit into the overall scheme of the football team. The NFL is made up mostly of 3* players and lower.

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  7. if you want to be elite, you need to recruit 4 and 5 stars
    a much much higher percentage of elite kids become all americans and get drafted

    Pitt will never be elite because of many factors – lower revenues, smaller budgets, recruiting grounds, lack of true commitment from the administration, fans and boosters, not willing to bend some rules, etc, etc

    so knowing this, there is no reason for one to even think that Pitt can consistently be a top 10 team. Maybe an occasional Coastal title. Maybe an ACC championship every 5 years?

    9-10 win seasons and bowl games each year. Final ranking in the top 25. Those are reasonable expectations.

    Problem is with a recruiting class in the 50’s, it wont happen (Note: only 15% of class rated 5.7 and above).

    Unless Narduzzi and staff are great at developing players. And utilizing a scheme/system where these players fit and can excel.

    If Narduzzi was great at development, we would have seen more younger players already making an impact. 5th year seniors and Chryst recruits were still playing key roles after 4 years. And Pitt doesnt have a consistent identity on either offense or defense. Thats part of the problem.

    so Pitt has to step up in recruiting or it will be left behind. Moreover, Pitt needs to figure out who Pitt is…since this influences the players one recruits.

    remember this is the ACC. Spread and RPO are the offenses. Its not power running.

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    1. Power running was the main reason for the Coastal title this year. However, when they faced the likes of Miami and Clemson which was able to stop he run without stacking its defense, that is when it ran into trouble.

      Remember, against that ‘great’ Syracuse team which was so celebrated here with its 10-win season, Pitt scored the last 10 points of the game do nothing but running …. running it right down the Orange’s throat.

      But note that two other times when ACC stacked their defense, Pitt actually passed well … Duke and Wake Forest

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      1. few if any ACC teams have power running. Thats my point. The D needs to be designed to counter spreads and RPO’s.

        if Pitt runs a power running scheme, I’m fine with that but they need to find a QB that can pass for more than 8 yards in a game.

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    2. TX – this will be a totally different FB team in 2019. The Chryst players will be completely gone. Watson gone, Whipple in – improved passing game should be seen almost immediately. Three SR LB-ers will have graduated with NONE were invited to the NFL combine – speaks volumes to me and has been a source of frustration for about 8 years. The “back-up” LBs have much experience and should be a strong 2-deep.

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  8. “If Narduzzi was great at development, we would have seen more younger players already making an impact.”

    The above statement is not true. Development takes time. Look at the list that will be juniors this year. They have made an impact. They are still young and have two years to play.

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    1. development for linemen takes time
      but no reason why wide receivers, running backs, corners and LB’s have not impacted significantly

      development for these skilled positions should not take more than 2 years
      Unless it takes longer to develop these 2 and 3 stars…and I think thats probably part of the problem

      if you recruit under-sized players, marginally talented players, and players from non-HS football factories, you will have to work harder at development

      Pitt needs more talented players that are more ready for the college leap

      all the development in the world is not going to make a 2 star Holy Cross recruit into an ACC caliber player.

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  9. Under the current situation PITT has very little chance in recruiting very many 4 and 5* players. Why?

    While Narduzzi is being paid his due amount he just doesn’t have the money for top assistants, although I’m fairly happy with how he has rearranged his coaching staff at this moment.

    Local talent… they just ain’t there right now in the area and when they are, they aren’t in the right area known for coming to PITT. (whites) and too many bridges have been burnt with the local high school head coaches in the past.

    PITT is not overly involved with paying top dollar for the recruits to considered going to school there. Teams like Alabama have 4 and 5 * kids sitting on the bench for four and five years but put up with it because they are driving around brand new Escalades. << and their dads got a new job.

    Heinz field kind of gets a bad rap but it’s a decent place for an old man to watch a football game in but it’s not anywhere close to a college football stadium. Oversized and void of atmosphere on most games not involving psu, WVU or Notre Dame.

    Nope, PITT just isn’t going to be getting many high ranked players, not now or anytime soon. We can stomped our feet in frustration all we want but PITT is what it is….. PITT. …. reining Coastal division champions.

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  10. Thanks for the very insightful analysis, NRS. Of course stars matter but how do we explain the success of 3s? I think HS coaching has a lot to do with developing natural talent. That diamond in the rough 3 may not have had the greatest HS coach..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you are correct

      much better coaches from football powerhouses
      they pay top dollar for coaches
      therefore, the coaching is better
      these kids are better prepared for college

      plus competition is better
      plus better facilities
      plus weather is better

      plenty of 3 stars from these powerhouses
      thats why I believe a 3 star in the South is generally on par with a 4 star from the North

      a wpial team would get killed if they played an ‘average’ team here in DFW

      narduzzi still needs to recruit more speed. you cant develop that.

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          1. Any chance we could get together, maybe for dinner? If so, I’ll post my email address here, or, MM already has it if you can get it from him.

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      1. Trouble is, all the factors that prevent Pitt from landing 4-stars also keep Pitt from getting the 4.4 or 4.5 guys they go after.

        There are only so many HS players who have that elite speed.

        We have gotten a few, but every team is focused on speed.

        Go Pitt

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  11. I think Pitt is in pretty nice shape on the DL and with the DBs. Reynolds looked decent, but I worry about playmakers at LB. Is this the year we see a “star” LB emerge?

    Brightwell has had flashes. We have to hope some light goes on for some of these guys.

    On the DL, I think Weaver, Jones, Camp and Twyman can all be play-makers.

    Go Pitt.

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      1. Erie – I hope you are right about Bright. I must admit I don’t remember him standing out at all last season — but I’m old! 😊

        Go Pitt.

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  12. all 3 starting LBs were seniors. Bright did see some PT as well as special teams, but Reynolds and to a lesser extent, Brightwell, saw most of the reserve duty at LB as I recall. Pine saw most of is action in the bowl game.

    Erie, I too am high on Cam Bright. I remember his highlight film really wowing me.

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    1. Bright and Pine both saw action in all 14 games in 2018 as reserve LB-ers. Both should compete for starting jobs in 2019. If I remember correctly, Cam Bright forced a fumble, had a sack or two and recovered another fumble forced by someone else. I don’t remember Pine being too disruptive.

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    2. this is from Bright’s Pitt bio ….

      2018: Played in all 14 games, serving as a reserve Star linebacker and on special teams…totaled 13 tackles, a sack assist, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble on the year…twice had a season-high three stops (North Carolina and Virginia Tech)…assisted on a sack at Wake Forest…recovered a fumble at North Carolina…forced a fumble at Virginia.

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  13. Copy of C.Pine’s bio from the Pitt site –

    2018: Played in all 14 games, making one start at middle linebacker…starting assignment came against Sanford in the Sun Bowl…totaled 14 tackles and two TFLs on the year…had a season-high two tackles in five separate contests.

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  14. Copy of C.Bright’s bio –

    2018: Played in all 14 games, serving as a reserve Star linebacker and on special teams…totaled 13 tackles, a sack assist, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble on the year…twice had a season-high three stops (North Carolina and Virginia Tech)…assisted on a sack at Wake Forest…recovered a fumble at North Carolina…forced a fumble at Virginia.

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  15. I’m not sure if anyone else is having this issue with the site, but I’m seeing the Golf outing article, not the current article, when I log in to the POV. The current article is the third article I see as I scroll down.

    Now on to more important issues. Drove 700 miles to Clemson on Thursday with my daughter. Drove 700 miles home yesterday and today. Great school, great campus. But could not be more opposite from Pitt, her other finalist. Decision coming….

    Like

    1. opposite in what ways besides the obvious – not an urban campus and an administration that fully supports sports (along with an OCS).

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    2. she cant go wrong with either
      I remember when my choice was between the Dairy School and Pitt

      I could of had grass underneath my feet instead of concrete
      I could have been part of a cult who worshiped a false football god
      I could have tipped cows for fun
      I could have gotten drunk at frat parties and lost my life
      I could have worn all white like the Klan at football games
      I could have dated girls totally brainwashed by the Penn State Way
      I could have surrounded myself with kids who looked just like me.

      But I chose the concrete jungle
      I chose the energy, vibrancy and character of an urban campus
      I chose sports being second to academics
      I chose to think for myself and not have my school define me
      I chose diversity and independence over group-think
      I chose the most livable City in the US
      I chose Blue and Gold
      I chose Pitt

      Liked by 5 people

        1. Thx!

          Jackie said if you want grass under your feet then Pitt isnt it
          The Goose said if he wanted to learn a school song he would have picked Notre Dame or Penn State. He just wanted to kill people on the field.

          As long as kids know what they are getting into, I think few will have regrets much like myself.
          To each his or her own. Pitt was the right fit for me. Go with your instinct and heart.

          H2P!

          Like

    3. A nephew-in-law of mine, who grew up in Philly, went to Clemson. He loved the school, got a good job in computering in Virginia, and now he gets to root for Clemson…

      Go Pitt.

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  16. Thanks EE for the info and bio’s. PITT’s recruiting is not nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. Especially when you consider the barriers, obstacles and hoops they have to jump through to get elite high school star players to commit to PITT. Yes, I wish they could reel in more highly regarded players but I’m not as trusting about the recruiting services as many others. Plus I realize the real realization of PITT’s recruiting situation. Just keeping it “REAL” I guess and a poet that didn’t know it?

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  17. Tx, I mean with all the love in my heart with a little tongue in cheek. Believe me, I get that you love your old school but you come off as regretful at times. I guess that means that we are in the same club. Loving it and frustrated at the same time. H2P and Go PITT!. . . ..ike

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    1. frustrated is a good choice of words
      knowing that Pitt can do better
      not regretful

      unlike the common prevailing Nitter attitude, I look up to people and not down
      although i must admit, i love me a good Hoopie joke
      know that my wifes side is 100% from West Virginny so its family

      Like

  18. Well, my daughter announced her decision tonight. Pat Signal! She will enroll in the Pitt Swanson School of Engineering beginning in the fall of 2019. Hail to Pitt!!!

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Well done by her. I give her a lot of credit for turning down Clemson. It was great in many respects. I was impressed. Maybe it helped that it was 50 degrees and rainy all weekend. 😀

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        1. Congratulations to your daughter & you.

          Actually it was in the low 50’s or less & rainy since Friday the 15’th. Today was the first Sunny day since then.

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          1. I know! That’s what everyone on campus said Richard. I arrived Thursday night and left Saturday afternoon, and it rained nearly the entire time.

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      1. Thank you, TX. What sealed the deal was that I promised a lifetime membership in the Pitt POV. She didn’t know what I meant, but it sounded impressive when I said it.

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  19. missingwlat, To echo MajorMajors, I (as a Pitt Engineering grad) also applaud your daughter’s choice.

    Say you are a high school senior and you are debating Pitt, PSU, Pitt, PSU and you Google both schools and see their listed Notable Alumni:

    Pitt: Dan Marino, Mike Ditka, Gene Kelly, Andrew Mellon, Michael Chabon

    PSU: Jerry Sandusky, Keegan-Michael Key, Ty Burrell, Guion Bluford, Saquon Barkley

    For PSU trolls and Franco’s Italian Apologists to the POV, I know what you are thinking: “How many generations before Jerry is dropped from the Notable Alumni list?

    PS: Mr. Ferrari- what a well thought out article. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. PSU was never seriously considered, although she was accepted there. I know nothing about engineering, but I was impressed by Swanson. I think she made the right choice, my bias aside. I’ll say this too: Pitt is WAY harder to get into than it was 30 years ago.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Another Pitt Engineer alumni observation: after graduating from Pitt I was hired by a large Fortune 500 company, After being there a while they sent me away to take an additional engineering course at the University of Michigan. I took a course at the UM Chrysler Center and stayed at I believe Bursley Hall dormitory.

    I took a ride one evening in my rental car from the dorm down to Michigan Stadium (I believe the largest for college football capacity). It was 4 miles away! What’s Heinz Field from the Towers? Between 4 and 5? Don’t remember any UM students complaining about the bus ride to the Big House.

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  21. Thank you NRS and all the POvers for the great stats debate on Narduzzi’s player development or lack thereof depending on one’s…POV. Eric (Wlat), thrilled to here of your daughter’s decision. My son chose Pitt and the Swanson School in 2011 and it was a fantastic decision for him, looking forward to seeing a lot of you both over the coming years. H2P!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With all the money I’m saving (Clemson was going to be about $15k per year more), I can afford to supply some extra alcohol to the Fran/Joe L tailgates. Unfortunately with my kidney condition, I cannot drink any of it.

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  22. NRS very good article!

    I don’t see remarkable progress in the area of development but that’s just my opinion.

    I think a lot of the guys on the list are contributing because someone has to be first on the stat sheet.

    I believe Weaver is the real deal no doubt and thank you coach P for that find just like Sheard and Romeus before him. I.e. Weaver is a diamond in the rough in my opinion i.e. he had talent more so than the staff developed him.

    QBs have not developed in my opinion (Narduzzi’s hiring of Whipple is proof he agrees).
    WRs have become non existence and there is good D1 talent in the WR corps.
    Except for Brain O’Neil being converted from TE the best OL that Narduzzi’s staff have had were either Paul’s players or MAC transfers.

    Oh the secondary:

    This is where talent has gone to die.

    Under Narduzzi. Whitehead, Pitts, Maddox, and Mitchell all made it to the NFL. However, they regressed under the boy genesis of Defense.

    Where is Paris Ford????The best practice player in the nation. Remember last spring or summer when he was making INT’s all over the field according the PR machine.

    I will give the new secondary coach credit for making Hamlin Island play serviceable for the last 8 or so games of the season.

    If OBs, OL, and WRs mark a huge improvement this team has a shot at beating Clemson. Its way easier said than done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Regarding the Dbacks, we seem to have fixed the problems at cornerback, and look to be in excellent shape there with Jackson, Pinnock, Mathis, And Williams.

      The problem continues to be at safety. Even if Hamlin handles one spot, what about the other. We seem to have athletes available, but they have not performed all that well. Stocker has shown flashes, and certainly looks the part. But we continue to see coverage problems, including not picking up receivers who the corners pass off…

      Can Coach Bates and the safeties Coach, now both in their second year here, fix this problem? If so, our defense could be very good; if not, we will struggle.

      IMHO, defensive strengths = Dline + Corners.

      IMHO, Defensive Weaknesses / unknowns = Safeties and linebackers, especially outside backers.

      Go Pitt

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      1. hopefully this is the breakout year for Paris Ford at safety. If you recall, he was switched to CB before last season and returned to safety in late season. I still think he has the talent, not sure of the instincts though

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Would be awesome if Paris could step in at safety and excel, but unfortunately we have yet to see ANY o our safeties excel at pass defense in Dooz’s defense…

          But there did seem to be some defensive progress under Coach Bates…

          Go Pitt.

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  23. Interesting podcast by Chris Peak where in talks to Adam Breneman, the TE who went to PSU, then quit football, then went to UMass and caught a bunch of passes in Coach Whipple’s offense. Now Breneman was an elite player, but at UMass he caught 134 passes and had 12 TD catches in 23 games over 2 seasons.

    After he left UMass, three TEs at UMass this past season combined for 25 passes and no TDs. But a 5’8″ WR, who is expected to be an NFL draft pick, had a ton of catches that season. So, obviously Coach W. needs the talent.

    Breneman was very complimentary of Coach Whipple. He emphasized how Coach W. has a multiple offense. Said they would line up with 2 TEs and fullback on play and with 5 WRs the next play. Also said that he tailored the plays every week to the opponent. Said that Coach W. is very good at getting the ball to the playmakers, which is reflected in the stats mentioned above…

    So do we have a talented enough TE to get some catches? That’s a huge question. Gragg? Medure? Mimes? Carrigan? The TE position will be an interesting spot to watch during spring drills…

    Go Pitt.

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    1. It sounds like that a TE may also not be used that much. If his offenses vary, then he may not only cater the offense to the opponent but also to the talent he has at his disposal. Remember, this past season his TEs only accounted for 25 catches.

      Liked by 1 person

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