Here are some excerpts from a PA recruiting article published by The Athletic magazine and website. It is a subscription service that covers every major sport but the college football coverage and writing is always excellent and interesting. I have a subscription to The Athletic as I know some other readers on here do also. By the way, I can share five (5) 30 day passes for the first five POVers who want to check The Athletic magazine/website out. If you are interested after reading this article and seeing the Athletics’ website (linked above) let me know…
The referenced article interviews four highly successful high school football coaches from the central and eastern parts of Pennsylvania. Here is what they had to say about Pat Narduzzi and his recruiting…
How would you describe the way Pitt recruits your players?
Coach 1: (Pat) Narduzzi is very stubborn when it comes to this side of the state. They will never get away from recruiting the local Pittsburgh market and a little bit of Ohio. They sit there and they’re complacent. They wait for whoever falls from Ohio State to go to Penn State. Whoever falls from Penn State and maybe Michigan is in that mix too, whoever falls from those programs, that’s who they take. … Their recruiter, he’s from Pittsburgh and he stays out there. They’ll call wanting our guys, but that’s it. There’s no relationship.
Ed Note: OK POVers, this is a clear indictment of a lack of aggression on Narduzzi’s part when it comes to targeting and heavily pursuing prime talent. This kills me: “They wait for whoever falls from Ohio State to go to Penn State. Whoever falls from Penn State and maybe Michigan is in that mix too, whoever falls from those programs, that’s who they take. …”
Coach 2: They recruit them well. They’ve done a very good job when we’ve had guys that fit the criteria and were good enough. Sometimes we all think we have a guy (who is good enough). … It’s subjective. … I think their blueprint is also that they want Florida kids. Get a Florida kid and maybe a Maryland, DC, Virginia kid. They’re not getting to Texas, like Ohio State, or California or something like that. … They’ve done a good job. We just haven’t had a kid go to Pitt yet in my tenure here.
Ed Note: Not sure how we actually “recruit them well“ (see graph below).
Coach 3: Pitt does a great job. (Cory) Sanders, the DB coach there, recruits our area. Before COVID, he came to the school in the spring multiple times. He comes in the fall and stops by games. He’s present. They offer early and establish early relationships and they’re not shy about it.
Ed Note: Great job, I tell ya – Pitt is killing it with Cory Sanders in those areas (again, see graph below).
Coach 4: It’s different. I have not nearly as much contact with Pitt. … They came out to watch (our star player) after I called them. Actually, I feel like it’s pulling teeth with Pitt just to get feedback, to get responses. It’s not like it is at Penn State. I could pick up the phone and call Terry Smith at Penn State and he’ll answer on the first ring. Or I could call (offensive line coach) Andrew Aurich at Rutgers and he’ll pick up. … It seems like (Pitt) doesn’t want our people.
Ed Note: Get that “…after I called them” part? Why in the world would Pitt want their players because as we all know Narduzzi is just flat out killing it recruiting elsewhere? I mean, his track record in recruiting is sterling and a shining example of how to…well… actually… to be afraid to compete with the Big Dog schools.
Folks – all the above is super evident in the way Narduzzi has just conceded anywhere but western PA to Penn State. Listed below are the recruits whom Narduzzi has gotten from east of Harrisburg since he’s been here and what they have done while trying to play football at Pitt. All of these recruits were three star rated and none did anything of note (as yet with the 2021 recruits) out on the field of play.
Narduzzi hasn’t completely dominated the local area that much in truth either. His best local Western PA commits have been defensive stars in DB Damar Hamlin and DB Paris Ford and they were very good players. Notice DB Jordan Whitehead isn’t listed there as he committed to Paul Chryst. Those other three kids were good ones and played exceptionally well for us. But where are the offensive recruits from the local area?
According to 247 Sports’ listings of the Top PA recruits over the years here is how Narduzzi has done in getting their 247 Top 25 PA kids to Pitt.
One in 2015: # 13 / 3* S Jay Stocker. (Note that #1 4* S Whitehead, #14 3* OL Paulina and #22 3* OL Pilato were all Paul Chryst commits in 2015’s recruiting class. Jay Stocker committed to Narduzzi.)
None in 2016
None in 2017
One in 2020: #3 / 4* SDE Dayon Hayes
One in 2022: #21 3* DL Sean Fitzsimmons. (Note this is an incomplete class.)
So Narduzzi has gotten 15 Top 25 PA players to commit to Pitt since he’s been here and you can see he’s getting better at securing the more talented PA kids as opposed to when he first arrived, which is to be expected as he gets to be more well known. Over the same time span Penn State’s HC James Franklin pulled in 39 or 24 more… which is also to be expected as he’s a much better recruiter. But that much of a huge discrepancy should not be happening.
But I firmly believe that to really bolster Pitt’s yearly roster with top shelf kids Narduzzi has to pay a lot more attention, and put a lot more effort into, the central and eastern parts of Pennsylvania. There is way too much talent drain out of PA to other schools then should be with Pitt being the second biggest football program in the state.
Take another look at those 247 Top 25 Pa players listings again – it isn’t like the best PA players are all going to PSU, OSU, ND, etc only – schools like Rutgers, Baylor, BC, Maryland, Minnesota, and many other similar-level programs as Pitt are getting better PA players than we are also. Even Rutgers has pulled in a bunch of higher ranked PA kids also. That just shouldn’t be happening.
Get more PA kids from all over the state and Pitt just get more wide spread alumni interest in our football program from those living in central and eastern PA areas. Couldn’t hurt…
I know Narduzzi has a fixation on southern U.S. high schools – I assume for the supposed speed every recruit is rumored to have down there. But all you have to do is look at the W/L records between Penn State and Pitt over the last five years to see what effects both HC’s recruiting has had on their success – or lack there of. Pitt is 34/29 during that time period and Penn State is 53/16. That tells me we need to be pushing Pitt all over PA and not just in out Tri-State area and we tend to do.
Getting only two Top 25 kids from outside WPA just won’t cut it any longer. There is way too much talent over there to be not just overlooked, but to be looked down Narduzzi’s nose upon.