Crootin’ Capsule Part 2 – the Youngsters

Welp NLI day has come and gone and Pitt has signed xx players, as expected.  And since I had so much fun delving into Narduzzi’s first two classes I figured I’d look through the next two and see what the future might hold.  In this case I’m not looking for “impact players” per se, but I’m looking for players that have flashed the potential to become impact players in the next year or two.  It’s highly subjective, of course, but hey, it’s officially the holidays and these are the kinds of things we should be talking about.

Side Note:  I mistakenly omitted Defensive End Deslin Alexandre from the 2017 class.  He totaled 32 tackles, nine TFL and 5.5 sacks as a redshirt sophomore.  Absolutely a breakout candidate if he continues to develop.  

Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt 2018 Class

  • Commits:  20
  • Rivals Rank:   36
  • Four stars:  1
  • Percent 5.7 or Higher:  55%

Mychale Salahuddin – 5.9 – RB – Flashed in limited duty as a freshman but then blew out his knee.  Pitt took their time bringing him back and he left the team before the season in 2019.  Recently signed with FCS North Carolina A&T and will be eligible to play in 2020.

Nick Patti – 5.7 – QB – Scrappy QB with an unorthodox delivery.  Contributed a couple of times in 2019.  Threw a touchdown pass against UCF, and delivered just enough offense versus Delaware to ensure a three point win.

Jake Kradel – 5.7 – OG – Kradel, a redshirt freshman saw his first extensive action against Duke and I believe he was listed on the Pro Football Focus ACC team of the week that week.  I believe he saw action every week after that.  His performance against Duke shows that he at least has the potential to perform, and so I’ve bolded him.

Judson Tallandier – 5.7 – DB – Did not record a stat in 2019.

John Morgan – 5.7 – DE – Saw action in eight games as a redshirt freshman.  Recorded two sacks and four TFL as a backup.  Possible impact player if he continues to develop.  

Chase Brown – 5.7 – OL – Juco offensive lineman that never saw action.

Blake Zubovic – 5.7 – OL – I do not believe he played in 2019.

Devin Danielson – 5.7 – DL – Played in 9 games as a backup.  Recorded 12 tackles and 1 TFL.

Marquis Williams – 5.7 – DB – Played in four games in 2019.  If I recall correctly he looked a little over-matched against Syracuse when he came in in relief of Jason Pinnock.

Ricky Town – 5.7 – QB – How he got a 5.7 rating is beyond me.

Shocky Jacques-Louis – 5.7 – WR – Flashed in a big way against North Carolina.  Should get a chance to shine in 2020.

Noah Palmer – 5.6 – DE – Did not play in 2019

V’lique Carter – 5.6 – RB – Pitt probably would have lost to Duke two years in a row if it wasn’t for Carter, and he had his moments in a couple of other games as well.  Needs to work on his vision, but has speed, moves and decent hands.  Should be interesting to see what Whipple can do with him in year two. 

Erick Hallett – 5.6 – S – Made it onto the two deep in 2019 as a redshirt freshman.  Totaled 14 tackles and 2 passes defended in eight games.  That’s not nearly enough for me to label him as a potential impact player.  Regardless of what he did in 2019 he’s going to need to step up big time in 2020 with Hamlin graduating and Ford possibly leaving early for the NFL.

Wendell Davis – 5.6 – LB – Registered nine tackles, one sack and one TFL in six games.  One of those guys the coaches rave about during spring interviews (but then again Jerry Drake was one of those guys as well, and what has he done?)  Davis will likely have the opportunity to seize the starting MLB job this off-season, or at the very least platoon with Chase Pine.

Cameron O’Neill – 5.5 – WR – Did not contribute in 2019.

David Green – 5.5 – DT – Did not contribute in 2019.

Tyler Bentley – 5.5. – DT – Played in four games.  Totaled six tackles and 1.5 TFL.

Kaymar Mimes – 5.5 – DE – Played in thee games.  Recorded three tackles.

Habakkuk Baldonado – 5.5 – DE – Saw extensive action at defensive end.  Totaled 29 tackles, four TFL, and 4.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman.  

Side note:  If you add Baldonaldo’s production to Alexandre’s you get 10 sacks out of the DE position that played opposite of Patrick Jones.  That’s first team / second team all-ACC level play.  

Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt 2019 Class

  • Commits:  19
  • Rivals Rank:   50
  • Four stars:  1
  • Percent 5.7 or Higher:  16%

I’m not going to go through the entire class, because so many of them redshirted, but here are the potential impact players that flashed a little in 2019.  Really there are only two:

Vincent Davis – 5.7 – RB – Dude needs to pack on 10-15 lbs of muscle, but he’s the best pure runner on the roster right now.  Only toted the ball 46 times, but averaged 5.3 YPC and scored 4 touchdowns.  Of course if you take out the long runs his rushing average probably diminishes significantly…

Jared Wayne – 5.5 – WR – Caught 15 balls in his last four games, for a total of 215 yards.  Over a full season that’s 60 catches for 860 yards.  

Okay so taking a step back and looking at both classes, a couple of things stand out here.  First, there are seven potential impact players out of a total of 39 recruits, so far.  That’s 18%.  By comparison, the 2016 – 2017 classes yielded 14 out of 48, which is good for 29%.  So you’d expect some more guys to emerge from the underclassmen.  And to be clear, at least six more guy are going to have to emerge just for Pitt to keep chugging along at its current rate of 7-8 wins.

Second, the distribution of impact players is skewed more heavily towards the offense in this bunch.  The ’16 and ’17 classes yielded just three offensive impact players (and one of them was a walk-on).  The ’18 and ’19 classes have yielded five potential impact players already, and it’s likely that a couple more will emerge in the next year or two (and all Pitt fans on earth are hoping that one of them is Davis Beville).  I’m not trying to be a kool-aid drinker here, but the numbers are the numbers, and things look a little better going forward then the do right now.  The key of course is that these guys HAVE to develop.  If their skill sets stay where they are then all of this speculation is completely moot.

The other thing that I will call out – which could put the kibosh on everything offensive – is that there is still an alarming lack of tangible depth across the offensive line.  Warren should be okay.  Hargrove is good.  Morrissey’s replacement is anyone’s guess.  Another year in the weight room will really help Kradel.  Right tackle is a complete question mark.  And what depth is behind them?  These are the questions that should keep even the most ardent of optimists up at night.

So those are my thoughts on these young ‘uns.  What’s yours?  Sound off and…

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone

83 thoughts on “Crootin’ Capsule Part 2 – the Youngsters

  1. Good stuff Maestro. Agree that for the third year in a row, the offensive line is the biggest concern, although at least half of it is penciled in and has played a few games. Tight ends again totally up in the air. I kind of get why Narduzzi is backing KP, really the only area of experience, with another rebuilt line, Ffrench graduating, poor production from running backs, tight end mystery and this is supposed to be “The Year”

    If Jones, Ford, and Twyman were all to leave early, along with Jackson, Johnson and Watt, the heart of the defense is also gone.

    We really will find out if recruiting has improved.

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  2. On offense you need a good and experienced line. Same goes with QB. Pitt is deficient in those areas and doesnt have depth.

    The team that wins is the team that scores the most points. I’m afraid this team will continue to struggle to put 20 on the board. The D would actually be real good if they only let up 20 per game.

    So I see many close games and unless lady luck is on Pitt’s side, I see more of the same. Another 7 win season next year.

    Just too many question marks, not enough experience on the O. And this is going on Year 6. Pitt should be re-loading and not re-building at this point. Thats an indictment on both recruiting and player development.

    Lets just get this bowl game over with so we can begin talking about basketball, wrestling and Pitt’s feasibility study for a MPC. 🙂

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  3. This isn’t the pros. No such thing as back up OL with experience. Pitt is returning four of the 5 OL next year. That is experience. Notice the jump Morrissey and Hargrove have taken from year to year. Kradel, Warren Houy will make that jump next year. I believe Van Lynn also got playing time other than TE blocking.

    College back up OL are what they are, they didn’t make the top 5 so they don’t get experience. It is the same every where. The best scenario is to have starters from different classes so you don’t lose them all at once which happens occasionally. Pitt made improvements in that area this past year.

    I also believe Pitt started occasionally substituting OL once in a while which would be very smart to do. Get more guys PT.

    Morrissey – 1 year left
    Hargrove – 1 year left
    Houy – 2 years left
    Kradel – 3 years left
    Warren – 2 years left
    Ulizio – gone

    So Pitt loses one this year and two the following. Lots of possible replacements:

    Rainey – 2 years
    Ford – 1 year
    Van Lynn – 2 years
    Drexel – 2 years
    Burgess – 2 years
    Murphy – 4 years
    Zubovic – 3 years
    Dick – 4 years
    Drake – 2 years
    Goncalves – 4 years

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  4. Baldonado will be an absolute stud. Alexandre and Morgan are good now and will get even better. Even if Jones, Twyman go pro, Pitt gets back Weaver and Camp. There is no questioning the DL recruiting and development.

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    1. No doubt D-End is in great shape. Tackle, I am not so sure, if Twyman leaves can you really count on Camp? Plus you are losing Johnson and if Ford goes your two most prolific run stoppers in the secondary.

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  5. learning new O systems/schemes and not playing enough games together as a unit has hurt the line. Moreover, most of these guys shouldnt even be on an ACC squad.

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      1. I think what I said makes reasonable sense. The O-line is inexperienced, has to learn a different scheme and just isnt talented enough for ACC play. Thats an indictment on recruiting and player development. Pitt didnt have these issues with Chryst.

        I will give credit for the DL.

        I’m anti-Narduzzi for a reason. I dont like mediocrity and 7 win seasons, bowl losses, unranked seasons ends and the quality of his recruiting.

        You need elite players on both sides of the ball to win. Pitt doesnt have enough playmakers and they are all on D. Hence we have a problem Houston.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s right. For the last 40 years. SOP.

            If mediocrity is what you want that is.

            I’ll be a broken record until Pitt fixes what’s broken. How’s that for you.

            People just need to stop trying to defend this offense this year. It was the worst in over 20 years. Since the back to the future coach.

            Half of Pitts line couldn’t even start for Gannon.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Tx…PITT has had many seasons that stretch far into the past way beyond 40 years…most of those years have been mediocre with a few really bad and a few great teams during 150 years of college football history…fortunately a few of here witnessed and savored those great mid-70’s and early 80’s teams and unfortunately many of you have been stuck in the 5-8 win seasons forever but never have endured those terrible 1-10 ..2-9 seasons ..it could be worse..let’s hope for improvement…hope will get us there…that’s about where we are at HOPE’s door- hope we don’t lose to BLUE EMU…think ODU beat’em in the Bahama Bowl last year…

              Last Friday.a couple of my ex-patients were golfing Bobby Grimes a vetreran of 3 total knee surgeries had just got back into town from some Fla golfing and was having a mediocre front nine shooting a 50 while a couple of guys in the four-some were draining some birdies-Bobby made it his job to retrieve each birdie made by his competitors while congradulating them…His playing partner “Hollywood” told me
              bobby caught fire on the back 9….shooting a 40!!! Bobby stood over a 25 ft putt on number 18 with a downhill lie..he naturally has a bit of a tremor but made a beautiful stroke and dropped it right in the center of the cup “nothing but net!!” As the next player was standing over the putt they heard Bobby Grimes say “Fellas”…. Hollywood turned around to watch Bobby Grimes fall face down on the green. …resuscitation did not help…Bobby Grimes, age 66, had finished his earthly work after draining a 25 footer…wow what an ending….I only shared that as I heard it this morning..there has to be a moral of the story or 2 or 3 in those words..enjoy each day..love one another…never let a bad game ruin a good party

              Merry Christmas to all of you…praying health and happiness to all..take some time to reflect on the reason for the season

              Liked by 13 people

            2. Great story Bernie and thanks for sharing. Another way to look at life is to accept reality………… because, well, it’s real and only worry about what you can control. Control being the main factor.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Merry Christmas as well. Damn good way to end ones life here on earth. Hopefully, I’ll die of a heart attack when Pitt wins another national championship.

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          1. I won’t be silenced. My letter to heather is in outline form at the moment. In the history of panther nation, a letter never contained so much piss and vinegar.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m sure it will e the first such letter she’s received …

              Kidding Tex. I know how important it is to be able to express yourself about something you are passionate about

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I plan on being very civil in my letter but I will point out several issues from declining attendance, flat donation rate, playing off campus, budget deficits and just lack of transparency. It wont be the Mueller report and 400 pages. I’ll do my best to keep it to 4 in length. The bottom line is that Pitt fans deserve more than mediocrity and I want to know the plan to break SOP. To me, its very simple and boils down to 5 steps. You’ll learn about it in the letter.

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    1. That is a ridiculous statement. The two that have played more than one year are on the all ACC teams.

      Morrissey – 1st team all ACC
      Hargrove – 3rd team all ACC

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      1. I’ll still stand by my lack of talent. A walk on (non-recruited) center who might get drafted in the 6th round and some 3rd team ACC player who wont even sniff a practice squad. I guess the other 3 O-linemen are trash…which they are. No business playing on an ACC team. I know the meaning of the word and I dont think you really know what it means.

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  6. it is much too early to assess 18 and 19 year olds, especially if they’re linemen. Skill positions with natural talent and instincts can make much quicker impacts, but linemen, and especially OL, need to get stronger and develop proper techniques. Also, it seems safeties take a while with HCPN’s defense …. Hamlin struggled his 1st 2 years and the difference between Ford from last to this year was astounding.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Tex it’s obvious that you are knowledgeable and passionate about pitt. But you lose your credibility when you have the inability to be even remotely objective about Narduzzi. Reed has the same problem.

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    1. I think I can be very objective with the facts and evidence presented over 5, count them, 5 long years and going on an underserving 6.

      I plan on making meatballs this Christmas Eve for my scicilian in laws. I’ll get perverse enjoyment out of beating the meat and cooking the balz in a hot as hell oven.

      But they will taste good. A make a damn good meatball. 🙂

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  8. Great work MM. I hope you never wise up & put the Pitt POV behind a paywall. I’d subscribe! Very complete coverage with one caveat, Jared Wayne as our breakout WR 2020.
    At 6’3” his ceiling has to be pretty high.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Tom. Well I’d have you and Ike so I guess that’s a start (haha)

      Great call out on Wayne. I did not really predict any young WR’s to step up. Shockey would have been an obvious choice but yes, Wayne was a pleasant surprise. Another year in the gym and in the film room and he’s going to have excellent potential. Plus he’s got a lot more size than Mack which I hope would translate to more durability.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I saw where to enhance the fan experience, our bowl game has a pre-game Putt-Putt and a Karaoke-for-Cash.

    I’m thinkin’ Fran would have cleaned up on the former, and Scooter could have won big on the latter!

    Can’t wait til Christmas 🎅(because the Panthers play the next day! 😊)

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. MM – appreciate the time and thought you put into these articles.

    I especially enjoy articles and comments that focus on the players…

    I thought we had some reached in last year’s recruiting class – but at least one guy who I thought was a reach (LB Dennis), sounds like he could be a pretty good player…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We can hope. The good news is that I think there is some depth at LB so they can bring him along slowly. I seem to remember him getting burnt for a touchdown early in the season. Can remember if it was UVA or Ohio (I would think Ohio). Anyway such experience usually pays dividends down the road

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  11. So every year is a new year in college football. Unless you are a football factory which always has guys waiting in the wings and a few frosh that are ready from day 1, you are plugging holes with guys that you hope are ready.

    If Twyman and Ford stay, Pitt has a pretty good chance of filling in the rest of the D and should be pretty strong. If they go, the defense may be a one year wonder like Canada’s offense

    Maestro’s analysis shows that Pitt must do better in terms of percentages of guys that have an impact, while they are here. So since the majority of players only make an impact for 1 or 2 years and almost half the guys that come never make it on the field, it makes it very difficult to have enough play-makers to win more than seven or eight games.

    This has always been an issue for Pitt since the mid eighties, even when they had a few superstars, there wasn’t enough strength top to bottom (depth) to overcome weaknesses at various positions and injuries which always occur.

    So this was the first season with all Narduzzi recruits. The defense had enough good to very good players to answer the call with no glaring weaknesses. Unfortunately this was not the case with the obvious glaring personnel weaknesses on offense, made worse with injuries down the stretch.

    So the question remains, is recruiting getting stronger and will personnel improve at the top and bottom enough to say that the overall program is trending upwards?

    We saw this year what solid depth can do at the D-End position. We need to see that at a lot more positions on both sides of the ball. We also saw what guys like Ford and K Johnson can do to upgrade the defense overall. We need a handful of those difference makers on both sides of the ball.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. speaking of LB, Andrew Pryts just entered the transfer portal. He led Stanford in tackles this year and is from Hermitage, PA which is just north of Sharon. But have a feeling he will be hotly pursued

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  13. Interesting news on A Pryts. If he wants to play fairly quickly and why wouldn’t he Pitt would not be a bad choice close to home. Pitt is losing Brightwell and Johnson to graduation and with the transfer of the MLB(name escapes me at the present) there should be several openings available. And with the NFL look a like of Narduzzi/Bates defense choosing Pitt should not end up being a bad decision.

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        1. He came out of HS as a safety and was converted to LB at Stanford. That sort of mimics the profile of Johnson at Florida who was also a safety that was converted to LB. And of course we have our own safety converted to LB in Cambell.

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      1. ^^ I swear to gosh and my family John………… you stole that thought right out of my mind. Here’s who voted with the F’s

        Angry Tx.
        I hate Heather Tx.
        I hate gorilla arms Tx.
        PITT needs an OOC stadium Tx.
        and finally………………………… Great PITT fan Tx!

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Report from Pitt headquarters in Detroit, Michigan: There is very little enthusiasm or excitement amongst the players regarding this bowl game. There is zero juice from the players about playing the game. This is not surprising, but lethargic preparation is going to result in a potential loss to a very mediocre EMU team. If that happens, TX’s head might explode. Needless to say, the natives are already restless enough. Things will get really ugly….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My head isnt screwed on very tight to begin with so it could easily blow. But in all seriousness, I dont really care if Pitt wins or loses this game. I’m apathetic. Thats a disease that can kill football programs. Are you listening Heather?

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  15. I am fully prepared to handle a loss… will by watching the game in Apollo friends who could give a fly’s cluck if what PITT does… that should temper my blood pressure…. seems like a smart thing to do….

    Today’s players have a problem- they need “ to feel the love!!!” Guess what dudes It ain’t happening… your not ENTITLED… GO OUT and EARN IT!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Relax Big Fella. PITT finishes with an 8-5 record this season, right where most of us amateur prognosticators had them. If we predicted an 8-5 record.. what is there to complain about? Merry Christmas Biggie.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Not surprised by the enthusiasm. Good thing signing day is past.

    The team and school have brought this on themselves with a little help from the ACC.

    We love to put our worst foot forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Since the guy across from you is trying to knock you on your butt — that seems to me like all the motivation a football player should need.

    If we just run the plays we run best, and throw in a trick play or two to help make practice “funner,” I’m thinkin’ we’ll do okay…

    Go Pitt.

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  19. I cannot remember less enthusiasm for a Pitt bowl game ever. We were on the precipice of the Orange Bowl and now this….

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  20. Not buying it Wlat, sounds a lot like the Northwestern game when it was told that the PITT team came out flat and then proceeded to cremate NW in the first 20 minutes. The rest is bad history.

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    1. As a player, you are not focused when you fumble, drop a TD pass that is thrown right into your hand or you slip at the 1 yard line instead of scoring.

      Focus – Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want – it is practicing over and over until it is ingrained into your brain.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Fumble was a guy that did it often, slip was by a guy who I can’t see EVER NOT BEING FOCUSED, and the pass drop was by a TE late in the game that if he wasn’t focused at that time, never would be at any time…
        …just sayin

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  21. It is amazing to me why you guys keep falling into TX Panthers trap. He is no pit fan. He’s a bitter old man. Yet all of you guys keep responding to his hate. Just silly. No matter what you say you he always has a bitter “Pitt sucks, Heather sucks, admin sucks” response. Let him be bitter. I myself am going to have a much happier life not reading his responses and I bet you would too. I skip right over them and read reasonable opinions. No one needs that hate, I would rather enjoy the holidays. Happy holidays everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy holidays to you as well. You obviously dont know me. And I dont know you. But I take exception to being called a ‘no pit fan’ I’ll just leave it there because if you truly knew me, you would not have said what you did. I have thick skin. Ignore me all you like. Where you see hate, I see constructive criticism and some levity.

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    2. I also take exception to being called old. I’m young in spirit but I do prefer bitter over sweet. So you’re only half right. 🙂

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    3. Let me be personal and provide you with some much needed insight Rich.

      When I was 6 years old, I barely remembered Pitt winning the Sugar Bowl against Georgia and the National Championship. But I do remember still to this day how it made me feel and how it provided me with an instant connection to Pitt.

      I remember the next year when Pitt lost to Notre Dame and how my heart sunk. I remember the 3 straight 11-1 seasons under Jackie. I remember disliking Joe Paterno and seeing him as a self righteous hypocrite very early in my pre-teens. I remember the choice between Pitt and Penn State for my college as a high schooler. My dad actually attended Penn State before dropping out and being drafted into Nam. But the decision was very clear for me.

      I became the second person in my family to attend Pitt after my famous Uncle Dave (see Honors College). I helped open the door for my brother and younger sister to attend Pitt as well.

      I attended many a Pitt football game as a student and young alumnus. Made road trips to State College, Morgantown and South Bend. Stood next to Lou Holtz during the player prayer before the game (couldnt believe he was so short). Puked my guts out in Morgantown during the 3 OT game that allowed Pitt to go bowling (Chas has the details). Saw that bowl on a cold New Years Eve down in Memphis. Flew out to Arizona to see Pitt play in the Fiesta despite my wifes objections (left her with a newborn).

      Created a site with Complit (John Mack) to advocate a feasibility study for an OCS. I’ve been published in 2 college newspapers (Pitt and UB).

      I bleed blue and gold just like everyone else on this site. I just take a different perspective on things and often criticize because I care so deeply.

      So nothing personal. Bygones. But please dont say I’m not a Pitt fan.

      H2P!

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  22. MM, relative to your Vincent Davis comment about “if you take away his long runs his ypc would go down.” Well, if you take away your bad articles your writing quality would go up……..No…….wait……..you’ve never written any bad articles………never mind………

    Merry Christmas Maestro, and all of you fine POVers——yes, even Ike the pessimist.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Hi folks,
    Just thought I would pop in before things start heating up at home today.
    I’d like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas (or Hannakah).
    A special shout-out to the Red 5A crew…love you guys and gals!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I find hearing about the guys not getting up for the game very disturbing.

    Although it is somewhat understandable, they need to look at it as their only opportunity to redeem themselves from their late season performances.For some it will be their last opportunity to play organized ball, for all it is the last opportunity to play with this bunch of guys. But like in a lot of cases you don’t know what you have till it’s gone. Apologies to Joni Mitchell.

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  25. gc…I don’t know how these kids look at things…just having to deal with millennials him my own workplacemakes me a skeptic.

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  26. Speaking of transfers – I have a feeling Phil Jurkovec will transfer ( Pitt would be extremely enticing ! ) Ian Book their starter is back next year which means he will have sat for 3 straight years @ ND. Way too good a talent for that . Also does anyone know how scholarships remain for this year ? – hoping we can snag a last minute 4 star player ( RB or QB ! )

    Like

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