Four Star Rodeo

Pat Narduzzi recently locked in his third four-star verbal (LB/DE Naquan Brown) for the class of 2021, and amidst the (nearly universal) celebration, someone commented on how it would be interesting to look at the four-star washout rate at Pitt. Certainly there have been a few. With the relative dearth of four-stars that Narduzzi reels in, each one is (in the fans’ mind) a precious commodity, and each should have an above-average chance of developing into a star. And yet, many do not. This article intends to detail just how good (or bad) we’ve been.

Being ambitions (and slightly drunk) I originally wanted to go back ten years. Then I realized it’s 9:47 on a Sunday, and I have to get up tomorrow and I am on my last half glass of wine. So I prudently decided to stick to the Pat Narduzzi era.

We’ll start with 2015. Which technically should not count as it was a transition year and these guys were Chryst Recruits, but what the hey. Two guys. Both pretty good.

Jordan Whitehead – 5.9 – DB – By all accounts a successful if not brief career. Currently doing very well for himself as the starting safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Darrin Hall – 5.8 – RB – Took a while but he did break into the starting lineup and was a successful and productive running back in his senior year. Made his name on breakaway speed rather than shiftiness or power, and probably benefitted inordinately from the Watson / Borbley zone blocking scheme in 2019, and if you take out all his long runs he actually wasn’t very good, but he DID get all those long runs, and if he had just worked a little harder on his pass blocking he’d probably be on somebody’s practice squad in the NFL. So after all that, was he a slam-dunk four-star win? No. But did he ultimately live up to his billing. I’ll say yes.

2015 Success Rate: 100% (2/2)

Alright 2016. Pat’s first full recruting class. And he certainly made a splash, signing FIVE four-star players. Oh but how many made the cut?

Ruben Flowers – 5.8 – WR – Tall and I guess good hands, but I remember watching his HUDL film and thinking to myself, “man this guy doesn’t seem all that fast or athletic” and sure enough he never really got onto the field. Ended up at Independence Community Collage and put up 12 receptions for 161 yards and 1 TD in 2018.

Kaezon Pugh – 5.8 – LB – Man the Yinzers were excited when we landed Pugh. A local guy that was highly rated. A Quip! Pat was going to rebuild the pipeline. Well Pugh at 6’1″ never really found a position, and sure enough never really found the field. He transferred to Howard, so Kudos to the young man for going to a place where he can still get a quality education. Looks like 2018 was his final seasons, and Howard’s website had him listed at 6’2″ 240 (he came to Pitt listed at 6’1″ 203). He seems to have suffered from lack of position at Howard as well, withy maybe a switch to running back. He rushed for 75 yards (13 carries, all in 2nd half of season), and posted four tackles. I’m going to go ahead and label him a bust. As for the Quip2Pitt Pipeline? Pat has recruited just one other Aliquippa player since then: WR Will Gipson, who has yet to see the field in his first two years.

George Hill – 5.8 – ATH (RB) – There was as much excitement around George Hill as there was around Pugh. He was the guy that was supposed to keep the RBU reputation going. Sadly, he was diagnosed with a heart issue prior to starting training camp and for his own safety he was not allowed to participate in drills. From a player safety and wellbeing standpoint this is absolutely a win. And there was absolutely no way to forecast this on the recruiting trail. In that context I am giving George gets the same grade that I got when I dropped a class before the midterm grades were posted: Withdraw Passing. I hope that he is safe and prosperous today.

Amir Watts – 5.8 – DT – Didn’t redshirt and that my have been his undoing. Better known for his locker room presence than anything he did on the field, although he was a fixture for most of three seasons. His senior year stats looked like this: 25 total tackles, 7 TFL, 2 sacks. I think we can all agree you want more out of a four-star.

Damar Hamlin – 5.8 – DB – Also didn’t redshirt and it cost him. Bounced around from safety to corner to safety again, and he kind of got a mulligan with an extra year of eligibility even before COVID. Was a leader and a strong performer last year and has been incrementally better this year. Four stars should generally be productive multi-year starters and that’s exactly what Damar has been.

2016 Success Rate: 25% (1 out of 4, with 1 “Withdraw Passing”)

2017 brought us three four-star recruits.

One of them was Paris Ford. (6.0 – DB) Say what you want about Ford, and his ability (or desire) to play within the system, but he was absolutely the most talented (and passionate) guy on the field for two seasons. His closing speed on run support was unparalleled and his ball-hawking ability was pretty damn good. And yea, those targeting calls were bull____. We all know that. I wish him well in the NFL.

Another was Charles Reeves. (5.8 – TE). The opposite of Ford. Heavy. Slow. Not a team player. Washed out after a year. Now plays for the Youngstown State Penguins. Logged 3 appearances and no stats last year for them. Kind of sad, really.

Anthony “AJ” Davis (5.8 – RB). A little bit of a gray area here, because for a couple of years AJ Davis has been the best of a bad lot of Pitt running backs. Still, the Pitt faithful are used to the likes of Shady McCoy as a four-star running back (or at least Darrin Hall). Davis hasn’t really even come close to Hall, much less McCoy and so…even though Davis has been a “productive” player for the last couple of years, I can’t label him a recruiting win. Yes this is college, but sorry I’m not grading on a curve.

2017 Success Rate: 33% (1/3)

2018 (oh 2018)

One four star Player. Four star RB Mychale Salahuddin (5.9). Lauded as the next great Pitt running back, and if you saw him in the couple of games he appeared in before he tore up his knee, he looked kind of like the real deal. But… he tore up his knee. And if you’ve read (or watched) Friday night lights, you will know that Boobie Miles is a real guy with a real knee, and he ended up working in a warehouse in west Texas. (I actually have no idea if the movie documents Miles’ store, but the book opens up with the story of Boobie Miles and his knee and it’s absolutely heartbreaking). Anyway, Salahuddin and his surgically-repaired knee are now at North Carolina A&T, and due to COVID he has yet to post a stat. If he goes off and becomes an FCS All-American, then Pitt will have sadly missed a good one, but I’m guessing that the practice film doesn’t lie and he’s probably not quite the same guy he used to be. The the question then…does Pat Narduzzi get penalized because this guy got hurt? Because up until the injury happened, it looked like this dude had talent. (Okay okay we are talking about three carries against UNC for 34 yards and two kick returns against UCF for 26, but still, could he have been any worse the AJ Davis or “The Flea”?)

Sidebar: If you sort the 2018 recruits by rating, Nick Patti is the second highest rated guy in the class after Salahuddin. DE Habukkuk Baldonaldo and LB Wendell Davis share the lowest rating at 5.5. Discuss.

2018 Success Rate 0%. (0/1) The best ability is availability. Sorry Pat.

2019 also yielded one four-star. QB Davis Beville. He’s seen limited action this year, and was essentially recruited over when Whipple chose to bring in ASU transfer Joey Yellen. This is not exactly a glowing endorsement from a (supposedly) noted quarterback guru. A quick review of Beville’s limited passing activity shows questionable accuracy. That’s not a great characteristic for a quarterback in the west coast system, so I’m going to say “bust”. Still, if he magically manages to develop next year I reserve the right to change my opinion.

2019 Success Rate 0%. (0/1)

2020 – Pat picked it back up in 2020 and signed three four-stars.

First and foremost he signed Pittsburgh DE Dayon Hayes (5.8). In limited action Hayes has shown himself to be a talented and disruptive defensive end. Under Charlie Partridge’s careful tuteledge I have little doubt that Hays will turn into a contributor if not a future star.

Second Pat signed DB/WR Jahvante Royal (5.8). He’s redshirting this year and I don’t believe he’s seen the field, and so the jury is still out. At this rate I’m not including him in the evauation. Even a four star should get a redshirt year if he so chooses (and often this is the best thing for the program).

Lastly, there is Georgia DB Rashad Battle (5.8). He was a late (and surprise) signee. He’s gotten some playing time and while he looked a little raw early on, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. So yea maybe I’m going out on a limb here but I’m going to say Pat hit on this guy.

Projected 2020 Success Rate: 67% (2/3).

So overall where does his put Pat? He had some dark days in the middle of his tenure (but I will also refer you to the guys at the bottom of the Pitt signing class that have been productive. For every Four Star miss there is a two-star hit. I mean, legit question, who saw Sirvocea Dennis coming?) Nonetheless, the BETTER mid tier programs (and lets not mince words, Pitt is a mid-tier program, probably upper mid tier, but mid-tier nonetheless), hit on the majority of their four-stars and also develop the two’s (and really I’m just talking about Wisconsin here). Sadly, Pitt just isn’t doing that. If you take away Chryst’s Pitt recruits (Whitehead and Hall), Pat has hit on just 4 out of 13 four-stars (Hamlin, Ford, Hayes and Royal). Okay Salahuddin got hurt, so if you include him that’s 5/13. Even at five out of 13, that’s less than 40%. (.384 to be precise). That kind of batting average will get you into the hall of fame in baseball, but as far as college football recruiting all it does is piss off your fans.

It’s not all piss and vinegar though. An optimist could say that the arrow is trending up (potential 67% success rate this past season, and there are three defensive lineman 4-stars for 2021, all of whom have a good chance of panning out). Nonetheless, if Pat wants to get to the next level his four-star evaluations needs to get a click or two better – especially on offense. Still, he’s trucking along like he always did, with a core of three star guys, and he’s generally managing to win more than he loses. After all, 7-5 is a lot better than 5-7. Right?

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone

130 thoughts on “Four Star Rodeo

  1. The 2020 kids haven’t done anything as of yet. So maybe let’s leave that year out….till we get more data.

    So that brings us in at 2 out of 10. You can’t count Houdini either, cause he gained less than 50 yards.
    Hurt or not, he was a bust. So 2 of 11 is .182

    And you don’t stay around the Majors long hitting .182. Unless you’re a Pirate.
    And we know what kind of losers the Pirates and that organization is.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for this overview — especially on a Sunday night after a couple glasses of red (I presume). The article talks about recruiting but really encompasses two essential parts of winning football, recruitment and development. It’s hard to tell where one ends, and one begins but given Pitt’s success in polishing diamonds in the rough on the defensive side and its struggles on the other side of the ball you can take a guess. I think inadequate player development on offense is a bigger contributor to Pitt’s mediocrity than recruiting failures.

    Recruiting should definitely improve, especially on the offensive line, but we also need to get more out of what we have on that side of the ball. We see two and three stars outperform the ranking at every level of the defense, sometimes dramatically so. There’s very little of that on the offense. And on top of that, Pitt has arguably recruited better at running back than any other position in the Narduzzi (maybe D-Line edges it out with this year’s class) and has almost nothing to show for it.

    A dynamic recruiter could potentially improve Pitt’s fortunes on the recruiting trail, but it would be very difficult. We’ve discussed the reasons as infinitum (no real winning history to speak of over the past 30-plus years, no on-campus stadium, dismal attendance, diminishing local talent pool, etc.). Pitt actually recruits reasonably well considering all it has going against it. Just in its own conference, Clemson, Miami, FSU, UNC, and UVa have pretty sizable recruiting advantages over Pitt, and depending on what a kid is looking for/capable of VaTech (strong winning tradition until very recently/insane atmosphere), Duke (life-changing degree), and Georgia Tech (prime southern location in one of the world’s hip-hop capitals) may have an edge. And that’s before you factor in OSU, PSU, Michigan, and Notre Dame.

    Pitt is more likely to gain ground by doing a better job of developing talent once arrives than by vaulting up the recruiting rankings. There are many teams that recruit better than Pitt that get similar or worse results (UCLA, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Maryland, Kentucky, Nebraska, Mississippi St. Arkansas, etc.). There are really only a few teams with similar or worse recruiting than Pitt that consistently outperform them (Iowa, Boise St., Wisconsin – although Whisky has recruited a bit better recently). Some other schools with lower recruiting rankings may catch fire and outperform Pitt for a few years, but they usually fall back and have some disastrous 4-8 or 3-9 seasons while Pitt has this strange ability to never veer outside its 5-7 to 8-5 range.

    Realistically, if Pitt recruits at its current level and does a better job developing and utilizing talent, it can hang around the bottom of the top 25 most years with maybe a once a decade run at the top 10. Wisconsin is really the only example of a school that recruits more or less like Pitt that has punched above its weight (frequent top 20 finishes and a number of top 10s) for a generation so they have to be considered the exception not the rule. Maybe throw in Stanford (trending downward) depending on where you draw the line, but again, Stanford has a unique value proposition.

    The question is can Whipple and Co. develop players at the level needed for Pitt to take the next step? There’s precious little evidence they can and a fair amount to the contrary. It’s unlikely Pitt makes a huge step forward in recruiting no matter who is at the helm, so they have to find an offensive staff that can do a better job at player development and gaining a schematic advantage for this level of player.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. The statistics are sobering. I think the final number is about right like Adam Counter suggests, although I would be a bit more in line with Mikes thought about the best ability is availability and a withdrawal means you aren’t available. One out of 5 in that year.

    Here on the farm, when I pull a hammy, I can’t make it to the big house for processing as I am not available. Similarly, some of the players did not go to steeler stadium for the ND slaughter this year and in prior years like the Penn State Farmers School, hence unavailable. Those numbers are stunningly terrible.

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  4. 4 Star flops might be a better title for this writeup MM. Keep in mind PSU had 48 4 stars and above on their current roster this season. So many teams and Florida State might be one of the best examples of team(s) harboring 4 star flops on their rosters.

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  5. For every 4 star flop, there are ten 2 star failures. I’d rather take a chance with a 4 star.

    Some of these kids may have been generously rated a 4 star

    Some of these kids have already peaked on potential

    Some fail to develop

    Some get injured

    Some have bad attitudes and poor work ethics

    Some flunk out of school

    Some aren’t good fits or are misutilized.

    All I know is the likelihood of a 4 star making an impact is significantly higher than a 2 star. And Pitt doesn’t recruit enough 4 stars.

    Pitt has a recruiting problem. It may also have a development problem but I don’t think the answer is as clear.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good, concise research, MM. Glad you were willing to put this together. Thank you!

    And UM, I really like your analysis. I think you capture the current situation quite well. Makes a lot of sense to this old fan. If this is the kind of thinking one can do at 3 AM, I may have to try staying up some time.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. No 4 star bull-dozers on that list…. would have to go back a ways….( before MM started his Sunday vino)….IMO that has been and will remain the albatross for PITT football- lack of stud O-lineman…..

    Liked by 3 people

  8. So it is pretty obvious that four stars are heavily recruited and for that reason Pitt doesn’t get many and more than likely not the most sought after guys. This probably contributes to the lack of success.
    It also looks like the local guys have been the most successful and the dearth of those available doesn’t help.

    Nice work as usual MM.

    I think another fun evaluation would be a list of the most successful/impactful Narduzzi recruits and their star ratings. It took a while for this list to get going, but it does seem to be growing.

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      1. Our better coaches are on defense as well, starting with Partridge on the line, LB coach and overall, our D coordinator. Same can’t be said on the offensive side of the ball.

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  9. On the other hand, Narduzzi is 2 for 2 on zero stars …. Maurice Ffrench and Sirvocea Dennis. Both were unrated when they committed.

    Now Ffrench who committed after his junior year eventually became a 3-star and highly sought after when he was in his senior year but stay committed to Pitt. On the other hand, Dennis was a complete unknown playing for a prep school but was getting some interest from Syracuse in his home area … he was quickly raised to a 2-star after his commitment.(perhaps after Rivals and 247 saw their films … there are hundreds of schools and thousands of kids to look at)

    Now the jury is still out on incoming Trey Anderson whose rating remains at 0 (and skews the average rating of the 2021 class). Also, there may have been a few others who were unrated when committed but, if so, I don’t remember them.

    Lastly, Dennis wouldn’t be the only Pitt LB who was discovered while the coaches were after his star RB teammate

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When you wish for a four-star,
    Makes a difference who your recruiters are.
    Four-stars at Pitt, which are few,
    Development doesn’t always follow through.
    When you wish for a four-star,
    Dreams don’t always come true.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. one thing to point out is that all of the local 4-stars except for Pugh have succeeded (Whitehead, Hamlin, Ford and it’s too early to evaluate Hayes). Too bad there aren’t more of them (although they have 2 more coming in this year)

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  12. Maestro, since I am (mostly) a homebound senior, I will finish up your work

    Paul Chryst 4 stars (4 of 11)
    2012: C Voytik*, A Bisnowaty*, R Shell*, D Rippy (25%)
    2013: T Boyd**, D Johnson**, T Chapman (67%)
    2014: A Jennings, C James***, A Bookser, M Grimm (25%)

    Committed before PC hire but stayed; ** were PSU bound prior to sanctions *** Contributed at Wisc

    F Graham (1 of 2)
    2011: N Grigsby, K Mosley-Smith

    D Wanny (14 of 27)
    2010: B Murphy, TJ Clemmings, T Thomas, M Myers (50%)
    2009: D Mason*, R Graham, J Lippert, (67%)
    2008: J Holley, S Hale, J Baldwin (5*), C Saddler, L Nix, C Burns (50%)
    2007: L McCoy**, T Turner, T DuHart, A Wright, P Bostick, C Jacobsen (33%)
    2006: A Berry, K Collier, A Smith, N Byham, D Dickerson, J Otah**, J Malecki (72%)
    2005: C Collins, (0% – debatable)

    rated Mason a success despite an injury shortened career. ** JUCOs

    W Harris (2 of 5)
    2004: V Smith, (0)
    2003: none
    2002: T Palko, P Brockenbrough, L Fitzgerald, D Abdul (50%)

    Note that Rivals only goes back to 2002 (at least on PantherLiar)

    Summary: Obviously, there were more locals available back in Wanny’s day, and he certainly didn’t get all of them by any means, but Nrduzzi has missed out on a handful of locals OL in the past 5 years or so

    Nonetheless, there is also the case that since Pitt has so many 2 and 3 stars that have done so well …. maybe the fault is not in the coaching, but in the ratings.

    In fact, you can make the case that aside from Fitz, the best players in this millennium are A Donald, D Revis and A Bryant (who won the Biletnikoff award in 2000) … all 3 stars.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Gosh, I was unaware that a few of these guys were four stars. Jack Lippert and Shane Hale never saw the field/were in mop up duty. Kevin Collier only got a few carries in mop up duty. Mark Myers turned out to be a hell of a punter before transferring to John Carroll.

        Anyone remember Walt’s Juco transfer mentioned above, Princell Brockenbrough? He had a td reception against Miami of Ohio and then was never heard of again circa 2004. Good thing they didn’t used to sell beer at the games, I remember a lot less details these days.

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  13. The reason why the elite schools are so successful year after year is because they recruit talent. 4 and 5 stars.

    Talent is probably 70 percent of the reason why you win games. Play calling, game plan, system, weather, luck, home field are some other variables but players make the difference. Talent generally wins out in the end.

    And Rivals has historically done a very good job at identifying talent. It’s the first place coaches go. Then they do their own evaluations and visits.

    No coincidence that the higher the star, the higher the probability of becoming an all American and higher the probability of getting drafted

    Pitt needs to find more high 3’s and 4 stars

    They are behind the curve recruiting in the Coastal based on quality.

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      1. Pitt needs to recruit on par or better than other Coastal schools. They are behind at least 4 schools in their 7 team weak division. No talent means no more participation trophies.

        And you just can’t load up on the defensive side and be successful.

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  14. Nice work, MM. Those names bring back tons of recruiting memories. That’s something I like about being stuck as a Pitt fan, you really have two seasons to follow — the games, and then the recruiting class.

    The recruiting class is fun to me because I can hope that the 4-stars, if we got any, are going to be lights-out, and the 2-stars are going to be way over-achievers.

    Course the disappointments are tough. For example, Reeves was going to be an unstoppable 3rd-down-conversion and touchdown machine. One small detail left out of his recruiting profile — he was slow as molasses… And since then, we’re been cursed at that position…

    Recruiting — Hope springs eternal!

    Go Pitt.

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  15. This whole business of “developing” players has me stumped. If recruiting is good by way of recruiting highly ranked players, is it skill or development if they eventually produce as expected? If they become simply average performers, has the staff failed to develop them? (Dante Taylor comes to mind in basketball) And if a recruiter finds a hidden gem that is ranked 2 stars or maybe no stars, and then he puts on weight, maybe changes positions, and works very hard in practice (Weaver and Jones come to mind) should the coaches get credit for “developing” him?

    No question, OL coaches will get credit when an offensive line performs well. But what if the OL recruiting is poor and the offensive line sucks? Did the OL coach fail to develop them?

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    1. It is somewhat of a crapshoot. Always hard to say where an athlete is in his development. Have they peaked? Or like Aaron Donald do they just keep getting better? How much is it genetics vs hard work and good coaching?

      O-line one of the most difficult since they develop later. Do they have good feet to begin with, will they increase strength and master technique.

      Unless you recruit the best of the best like Clemson, Alabama, etc. there is more than an element of luck involved. Not many guys like Fralic that dominate on an O-line for four years, and they sure aren’t coming to Pitt.

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  16. Pitt has a failed system and doesn’t recruit the proper players for a proven system. That’s the crux of the problem. 4 star talent comes to Pitt and dies.

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    1. Pitt has had a failed system since the early 90s … as well as the late 60s. Problem is that no longer can a new coach come in and (1) sign 80 players in one class (2) including from a Western PA / Eastern OH base that back in the 70s was as good as anywhere else in the country.

      As far as 4 stars and blow-outs, LSU just lost 55-17. Here are their Rivals rankings from 2017: 8th, 14th, 3rd and 4th.

      Michigan lost 49-11. Here are their last 4 ranking: 4th, 24th, 10th, 11ht

      Tex A&M lost 52-24 Last 4: 10th, 16th, 6th and 6th

      FSU lost this year: 41-17, 48-16, and 52-10. Last 4: 5th, 10th, 17th and 20th

      Liked by 3 people

  17. PITT……. Dam if they do, DAM if they don’t.

    Just another example of some PITT fans that cannot be pleased. Now PITT doesn’t recruit the right 4*s? Some of you need some cheese with that whine. Wait until the NFL draft is over and I’m talking about recruiting and coaching kids up, so save the won/lost record for another day and another bottle of whine. (It’s Covid year) Yes, I’m a little cranky, just woke up. No sleep last night.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. 4 Stars?…….4 Pitt Stars are opting out of playing Georgia Tech Thursday eve. They probably know it will be a Tech blowout and don’t want further embarrassment by being involved with this God awful coaching staff!! Intelligent choices.

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    1. Why get hurt in the last game of the year when your’re a .500 team? Especially if you have a chance to get drafted? It’s a nationwide college trend right now.

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  19. GC, look at Dante Taylor. A 5 star who was supposed to be a great success at Pitt. But it seems he never had the fire in the belly, and never reached his potential. Did the coaches fail to develop him, or was he just one of those nice kids who lacked the necessary motivation?

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    1. Taylor was a mystery. Probably over rated because of his size, but he didn’t have the athleticism or the drive. Brown kind of reminds me of him only worse.

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  20. Three 5* washouts…Pat Bostic (more of a 2* player, love the guy doing color though) and 5* TE transfer from California (I forget his name, sigh) who was more of a washout than out previous 2 AD’s, and Max Browne. (yeah, he was a 5*)

    “The one-time five-star prospect from Sammamish, Wash., began this season as the Trojans’ starter after waiting behind Cody Kessler for three years.”

    https://www.dailynews.com/2016/12/15/qb-max-browne-transferring-from-usc-to-pittsburgh/

    Larry Fitz was the last 5* to work out, but of course for only 2 years. Not sure if Shady was a 5* by the time he came to Pitt, but of course a huge success.

    What other 5* players washed out of worked out for Pitt since the Sherrill days?

    BTW, this seems to be a 5* theme in basketball too.

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  21. In fairness, another good article would be Pitt 3* smashing successes, with Aaron Donald topping the list of course. Revis too.

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  22. Another position I have been thinking about: quarterback. What is the right number of QBs to have on the roster? Look at great teams like Alabama and Clemson. How many QBs do they take and do they lose many to transfer? Take Trevor Lawrence: was he a 5 star out of high school, and did he beat higher ranked QBs out? Knowing he would start for 4 years had to force some transfers of top QB recruits.

    Given Pitt’s less than stellar recruiting of QBs, does the Pickett method of playing someone who is basically average for 4 years work better than turning the position over to new talent every 2 years? Among Patti, Yellen and Beville, one will start for two years and at least one will transfer. And they have one recruit coming in. Is this the best way for Pitt to manage its quarterbacks?

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    1. That had to have been Wampum HS. Don Hennon, one of the all-time Pitt greats in Basketball.

      In high school, Don Hennon led Wampum High School in Wampum, Pennsylvania to an undefeated 31-0 record and a state championship in 1955.

      One of the great little known HS’s in Western Penna, that doesn’t exist anymore.

      Hennon played in college at the University of Pittsburgh from 1956 to 1959, where he led the Panthers to the 1957 NCAA Basketball Tournament and the 1958 NCAA Basketball Tournament. While there he became a First Team Consensus All-American selection in 1958 and a Second Team Consensus All-American in 1959, while being named to the United Press International and Helms Foundation first teams that season.

      Don became a Doctor and was my mom’s doctor. Great guy, she loved him….and he was very impressed that I knew who he was ! lol

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      1. A man who believed that helping cure people as a doctor was more important than joining the NBA and putting a rubber ball in a hoop for years.

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  23. Khaleke Hudson, another one that got away playing for the Washington Football Team, just got a penalty.
    He might have been a four star.

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  24. While on the subject of 4 and 5 star recruits, it has been noted that Pitt needs to sign 4 and 5 star offensive line recruits. I took a look at the Rivals Top 250 for 2017, 2018, and 2019. As you would expect, most of the 4 and 5 star OTs and OGs (there are a little over 100 combined in those three lists) signed with the blue bloods. Those who did not, with very rare exception, opted to stay home and go to a local team. Pretty much a Tennessee 4 star who didn’t go to a top 15 school went to Tennessee. A Florida player might go to Florida State or Miami. I think all of the 4 or 5 star Pennsylvania OTs and OGs went to blue blood teams. So we are far from alone in not being able to snag those elite OL players. If we had more local 4 star OL players, we might have one or two opt to stay home. As it is, not happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Notre Dame alone has Josh Lugg and Robert Hainsey on starting OL with Andrew Kristolic on 2nd team. And Mike Carmody is a frosh.

      Not only have they beaten Pitt out, but PSU had 3 assistants from Pgh that couldn’t outrecruit ND

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    2. I made that point a few years ago, supported with data.

      That’s why its really important to have an OL coach who can spot potential, recruit and dvelop players. I don’t believe our current guy has all three qualities.

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      1. Pitt never had a chance. Like Jurkovec, Lugg committed even before his junior year in HS. Hainsey, from Gateway, played at IMG Academy in FL … many southern schools after him also (as well as ex Gateway coach who is PSU Asst)

        And finally, Carmody’s older brother plays at ND and on his twitter announcement, he put ‘God, Country and Notre Dame’

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    1. WHEN !!!!!! This was the Stillers 2nd game in 5 days while Washington hasn’t played since Thanksgiving. And the 2nd half tonight looked like it

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  25. Steelers will go nowhere without a running game. Just like Pitt will go nowhere with Meatballs. Tomlin has a few inside his head.

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    1. The Steelers have the worst offensive line coach in the NFL. Fact…

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  26. All the yellow seats deserve their money back. It was just like watching a Pitt Panther game today. Same Ole Steelers. KC will roll them.

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  27. Like

  28. Pitt FB losses a 3 star LB per PSN –

    RECRUITING Florida LB Derrveron Maxwell-Black No Longer Committed to Pitt

    Making room for another 4 star?

    😉

    Like

  29. Knew something was amiss…when the refs stopped the clock in the 1st half to allow Washington Swamp to kick that FG.

    Strange things go on in the Keystone State on many levels. I should know …..lol

    cue the music !

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Two Star Toadeo

    2015 – only Dane Jackson succeeded out of (5) count them 2 star recruits – 20%

    2016 – two DE studs out of (3) – 67%

    2017 – the Aussie punter and back-up Center – 50%

    2018 – no toads to ride – n/a

    2019 – Sir D, Liam Dick & South Carolina’s very own Nate Temple – no grade? Too early to tell on Liam & Nate?

    2020 – a kicker and a TE – causing me to give incomplete grades on the last two classes

    So if we summarize the first 4 of 6 classes – 4 of 10 or 40% productive.

    You make the call…

    By the way – Sir Patrick G picked 2 star AD’s in Barney and Heather – Barney was a toadstool of all toads – Heather has an incomplete grade. Firing Stallings was 3 star work, but extending Duzz after a losing season was a no star move.

    Like

    1. Barnes did hire Pitts two best coaches. I’ll give him that

      He also hired the worst in history. I’ll give him that as well.

      Like

    2. 2015 – Depends on what you mean by productive, Lopes & Edwards where JUCO transfers & both were productive but not in the same manner as Jackson, Weaver & Jones. Lopes especially by his 3’rd year. Edwards only had two years of eligibility.

      Didn’t Abbeville’s finest Nate Turner get injured in the Austin Peay game?

      Like

    3. There were a lot of warts on the punter in the prior years. Not sure if this year washes away the warts. This year has been more consistent, but there was blockage (ND Game Quitters).

      Like

  31. WTF, no running game by any Pittsburgh football team this year, and I think it’s for the same reason. No quality OL play.

    Seems to me, although someone who knows how to coach football can correct me, that a running game requires timing and teamwork by an OL. Pulling or sliding and hitting the right guy to open a hole at just the right time when the back is at the spot. Pass blocking seems somewhat of a mano-e-mano game, stopping the opponent cold or pushing him past the QB to preserve the pocket.

    The Denver cut-blocking scheme is an example.

    If this is true, seems that a good OL coach can coach-up an OL even if the players are “out-manned” in terms of talent. Clearly, Pitt and the Stillers are lacking in the run game and coaching is the problem.

    Seems like it’s time the Stillers invest some high picks on the OL again, and Pitt as always needs to do a better job of coaching the 3* OLmen that they have. Borberly is not the guy so he and WMG.

    Like

    1. The Steeler’s Oline problem is that Pouncey and DeCastro are old and Vallenueva is going downhill too. You’re right about needing some high draft picks.

      Steelers also have developed a bad case of the drops… Pitt fans know a bad case of the drops when they see one…

      Go Pitt

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Well you know, even though I would have loved to see a perfect season. Better they get the loss out of their system now…….then 1 and done in the P’offs.

    Like

  33. It will be KC and done for the Stillers. Hopefully, not GATech and done for Pitt.

    Who are the players opting out of the GT game?

    Like

    1. Per Matt Zenitz from Alabama.com, Pitt defensive end Rashad Weaver has decided to to not risk an injury and will sit out Pitt’s remaining game(s).
      According to Zenitz, Weaver has now signed with an agent which would make him ineligible to play again for Pitt.

      My crystal ball also sees the other DE who is expected to be drafted highly by the NFL, to not play.

      Like

  34. So if the seniors sit this one out, maybe we get to see Baldonado and Hayes get some good time. I kind of hope Hamlin and Pinnock play though because we don’t have depth at the DB spots…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let the backups play against tech. If we don’t have enough depth at these positions to beat a three win team that is one year relived from running the triple option we have bigger issues.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. The end-game for a lot of these players in the “next level.” With really nothing to play for why risk injury if you see yourself on track to reach your ultimate goal…earning a pay-check playing a sport you are great at !

    Like

  36. First time in a while we have multiple guys that are capable of solid pro careers. The worst thing you can play with fear of injury. That’s when I gave up skiing.

    Like

  37. I’d like to see a kid quit midseason because he has a great offer to work on Wall Street that he can’t pass up 🙂

    Like

  38. Although passing is en vogue and the rules favor the offense, you still need a running game to pick up short yards and to control the clock.

    Pitt didn’t go far this year without a running game. I blame the line.

    Steelers won’t go far in the playoffs with their line either.

    An average back can look great under a good line.

    Enough of the D linemen, pitt needs some hogs on the O.

    Like

  39. One last point to VoR on Taylor. If I recall he was asked to play center when his skill set was power forward.
    But he didn’t have the physicality of a DeJuan Blair or even Torree Morris. Some guys just don’t have that mentality like Brown who just gets pushed around, never seems to fight back. I don’t think coaching can light that fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I think with both the Steelers and Pitt the O-line is only part of the problem. There are no elite running backs on either team. Too many times on Pitt I have seen wholes and the running back runs into the pile. When they do get into open ground, not often, they never make a guy miss to gain extra yards. No exceptional power, speed, shiftiness or vision. The Steelers backs are a little better, they are pros, but again mostly role players.

    Sure a stellar O-line would make them all look better, but only so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. What hurt the Steelers yesterday was a couple things. On offense it was Ebron’s dropped balls, and Washington’s excellent defensive play. Ben wasn’t sharp physically or mentally, he almost didn’t play because of a knee. On defense the Steelers are down 3 starters then Spillane goes down.
    And as wbb pointed out everyone ran out of gas in the second half. Pass rush wasn’t as fierce, receivers were getting open.

    Funny how you win 11 in a row and now you stink because you lost a close game. They also played Wednesday at 5:40 and Monday at 5:00, pretty sure that has never been done before and probably won’t happen ever again.

    Like

    1. Both you and Wbb are right

      Steelers did run out of gas as expected. I hoped they had an extra tank but they didn’t.

      And Ben did not want to play. And it showed. He wasn’t mentally prepared.

      In the end, it’s a good Loss. The pressure is now off. It was against a nfc team. Let’s them refocus.

      And yes neither the Steelers or Pitt have that running back that can find the hole, albeit tiny most times, and explode through it.

      This will be conners last year. UPitt was right…again.

      Like

      1. Not sure about Conner, he’s still the best they have, so unless they draft a good one, not likely he will still be around. Forgot to mention his being out with Covid also had an impact, the last two games.

        Like

      2. so what was upitt right about? When you’re whole mantra is that everything associated with Pitt athletics suck, you are going to be right on many occasions

        Liked by 2 people

        1. A clock is right twice a day

          A blind squirrel can get lucky finding a nut

          Point is- he was right

          He’s an ex pitt athlete on scholie. He knows more about Pitts ineptitude than most of us. I don’t want to know what he really knows. I’d sink into a deep depression.

          Like

  42. I think the Steelers will focus on interior linemen on both sides of the ball. Heyward getting up there as are the aforementioned Pouncey and DeCastro. But you never know with the Steelers. Getting a replacement for Ben is the gigantic need.

    Like

  43. The Steelers need a left tackle, corner and left guard in the first three rounds.

    Trade a fourth for Darnold and see what happens.

    Don’t extend Ben. This offense is screwed with him not being able to roll out. Next year might be his last. If he is still very productive, do a one-year deal for 2022.

    Both coordinators need to be replaced after this season. Butler’s defense had more breakdowns last night. Why does this keep happening? Randy is a puppet. Find an OC and let him call the plays. I think Ben is calling them, hence why Haley was fired after 2017.

    Go with Ben under center, put Watt at fullback and try running the ball. Work on it because it is disgusting how bad it is at the moment.

    Like

      1. Steelers have become predictable. And I think Ben is calling his own plays. Steelers truly were the most over rated undefeated team of all time. They will flop like a pancake in the playoffs.

        Pitt still has a shot at a bowl. Hopefully they’ll have enough active players to form a team given sit outs and covid. Hoping for a bowl here in Texas. Might be 50 percent capacity in this state as opposed to zero percent in PA. I don’t worry when I’m outside.

        I’ll pay 💰 to attend. Hopefully I can tailgate or at least walk in with a bottle of Jack. I’ll need it.

        Like

  44. Still bummed after the Stiller game. Missed my scotch last night. Made me remember Saturday morning brutal practices after a loss in high school. Even though I was a scrub, I had to suffer with the team. I remember trying to run the ropes after drinking a six pack of Duquesne beer post game night before. Not pretty!

    Steelers made so many mistakes but WFT was the better team. Especially on defense. Think about all the close losses in our first 11 games. At least three teams throwing into our end zone to win the game. Big trouble coming with an awesome improving Buffalo team. Never seen the Steelers so beat up.

    Like

      1. What? A 16 year head coach without a losing record? Do me a favorite Tex, donate your brain to science. That ought to keep them busy for a decade or two. Are you sure you’re not for, Phillly where they boo Santa Claus.

        Like

        1. How many playoff games has he won in the last ten years. I think I only count my pinky and my thumb. I boo Tomlin for good reason.

          Like

  45. One of the worst things to do to disrupt people in general and teams specifically since they are made up of people. Is to disrupt their schedules. Throws off just about everything. (ask cia, mi-6, mossad)

    So they delayed the Steelers game against the Ravens until 5pm on a Weds. And then to add more disruption, followed that up with another 5pm game a few days later.

    It is any wonder they were ‘out of sorts’.

    Like

  46. well it sure looks like just about everybody is on the same page with the STeelers, they were thrashed on the line of scrimmage, 1.5 yards per carry running, and most times Ben was under pressure passing. So sad to see a team AFRAID to run the ball- AFRAID, even on downs with a yard or less to go. WOW! And I thought Pitt’s OLine was bad.

    Oh, and after watching most of that game last night, I guess my opinion of Canada went down the tubes- I’m easily swayed.

    HTP

    Like

  47. Get that loss out of the way, the streak was getting in the way. Steelers should still have the #1 seed as of now. OOC loss compared to KC’s loss in conference.

    Like

  48. The Steelers had too many missing pieces yesterday. Pouncy is huge. Remember the last time Pitt could run the ball and Morrisey got hurt. The OL sucked after that. On D, as the game went on it got horrible with injuries.
    Once a few good starters are out, you aren’t the same team.

    Like

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