Pitt Lands a Transfer Tight End

Pitt Lands a Transfer Tight End

Pitt nabbed their third graduate transfer tight end in three seasons today.  Two of the three have come from Rutgers.  Matt Flanagan was the first Rutgers grad transfer TE back in 2017, and Nakia Griffin-Stewart, who announced his commitment today, is the second.

First of all, congratulations to Mr. Griffin-Stewart.  He’s instantly upgraded his playing situation and moved from a perennial division bottom-feeder (Rutgers) into a division championship contender (Pitt).  That in-and-of-itself speaks to the intelligence of the man, and his ability to diagnose a situation.  Secondly, Griffin-Stewart has moved from a situation where his receiving skills were likely under utilized, to a situation where he receiving skills will likely be highlighted.  While it’s tough to comment on exactly how good of a receiver Griffin-Stewart actually is, these two highlight-reel catches should be tantalizing enough for certain elements of the Pitt fanbase to anoint the new guy as the next Dorin Dickerson.  I don’t know if I want to go that far, but what I see is certainly promising, and Griffin-Stewart is most likely a receiving upgrade over Carson Van Lynn (no offense to Mr. Van Lynn).

Continue reading “Pitt Lands a Transfer Tight End”

Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of

Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of

Signing day has come and gone, without the fanfare of yesteryear where expectant Pitt fans sat by the computer watching the commitments roll in.  The fan base has early signing day to thank for that, and this past Wednesday was a quiet one day because of it.

You could argue that the two biggest commits that Pitt trotted out for the media were new Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple and new Wide Receivers Coach Chris Beatty. Both of the new coaches were at the LOI event on Wednesday, and both DiPaola and Batko have done a nice job of writing up the Whipple interview.

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 12.20.08 AM
A few POV’ers not interviewing Beatty or Whipple

One of the more interesting quotes to emerge Whipple was the “What’s it going to take to beat Clemson?” question that he asked the quarterbacks.  It is a question that is dripping with insinuation, especially during an offseason filled with so much angst and so much promise.

First, Whipple was insinuating that Narduzzi wants to beat Clemson.  Well the truth is that everybody wants to beat Clemson, but on the other hand, Pitt does not play Clemson in 2019.  So if we read between the lines, we can infer that Pat Narduzzi believes that the team can repeat as Coastal Division champions.   And why not?  The coastal is shaping up no better in 2019 than it was in 2018.  Here is a quick look at the teams: Continue reading “Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of”

Perspective Please

Perspective Please

This article was sent to me by Bill Aloe, whom many of you know as WWB, on January 17th.  I told him I’d hold it until the appropriate time and Bill was good enough to make some edits last night.  Enjoy…or not!

 

PITT POV Perspective, Please

After Alabama’s loss to Clemson a couple last month, I couldn’t wait to turn on Paul Finebaum’s call-in show the following day on the ESPN SEC network.   As some of you may know, Finebaum is an ardent Bama fan as are many of his callers. And I was not disappointed …..

Saban is too old …. Saban is over-the-hill …. Saban needs to be replaced before it gets any worse …. (and my favorite) we need to hire Dabo even if it takes 25 million to do so.

Yes, the man who brought Bama five national titles over the past eight years definitely needs to go.

Isn’t it fun to look at people who lose perspective because they are so wrapped up in something they are so passionate about?   But the fact is that we all do it …. whether it is a sports team, a political candidate, or a girlfriend. (There is indeed many fish is the sea, by the way.)   When things don’t turn out as we hoped that we really care about, we all tend to take this myopic view of the situation without stepping back and getting a general perspective.

This is what I perceived when I read the comments after Pitt’s loss in the Sun Bowl and then when MJ Devonshire chose to go elsewhere.   Passionate fans venting out their frustrations. Now I don’t mean to compare Narduzzi to Saban or Pitt to Alabama, but that’s the issue!  Fans have far too high expectation on the teams they follow … whether it has won 5 national titles in the last 8 years or it has one double digit winning season in the last 35 years.

I noted the disappointment here with Pitt finishing 7 and 7, which is only natural after they lost the final three games.  But I was caught a bit surprised by the furor it caused, especially when so many predicted doom and gloom before the season.  And of course, the angry ones continue to forget that five of the opponents this season finished in the Top 20 …. that’s over 33% of the schedule.   And by the way, let me be the first to mention that of the 14 games played, only six were played in the (quasi) friendly Heinz confines.  Lastly, I got a kick by the POVers who predicted a minimum two TD Stanford win but took the coaches to task for the one point loss.

Long-time Post-Gazette high school editor, Mike White, wrote two articles over the last few years about how the number of Western PA FBS recruits are dwindling in an alarming fashion.  Note that he was not only referring to 4-stars, but also 2 and 3 stars. Not only are there only 5 players in the WPIAL / City this year that have been recruited by Power 5 teams, there were only 14 being recruited by all of the FBS teams.   That’s out of a total of well over a hundred schools. Like it or not, Western PA has become a barren waste land when it comes to high school football talent. No wonder the coaching staff has all but ignored the immediate area for recruiting.  

There is recent local news about Penn Hills School District being in dire condition financially.  It wasn’t that long ago that the school was the area’s largest, providing Pitt with Fralic, Flynn and Donald, to name a few.  Now, apparently the story that it was unable to fund its football team’s trip to the state finals without Bill Fralic’s help was quite accurate.

The Pittsburgh city schools provide very few recruits these days.  They all play their league games on one field, and the practice fields are deplorable.   The coaches are to be commended for their efforts but the days of Pete Dimperio are long gone.  Also are the Morningside Bulldogs for that matter. Even Franklinstein himself only recruited one Western PA player (a Rivals 3-star) this year.

From 1995 through 2011, Woodland Hills has graduated a dozen players that has made it to the NFL.  This includes Lousaka Polite, Shantae Spencer, Lafayette Pitts and Ejuan Price. However, Price was its last graduate to become a pro, and WHHS hasn’t even produced a 4-star recruit in the last 5 years or so.

No doubt, Coach Narduzzi’s recruiting of offensive linemen / tight ends leave much to be desired.  (He is literally the anti-Chryst in that his classes are very defensive oriented.) But anyone who thinks Pitt belongs in the Top 25 of recruiting rankings are guilty of the myopic view that was described above.  Yes, the focus of the recruiting has been re-directed to where the quantity and quality prospects are (New Jersey and southeast US) but Pitt is just another school to many of them, let alone the fact that most of them have not heard of Tony Dorsett or Hugh Green.  To them, Pitt is just another decent program that plays in front of a half-empty stadium. It should not come as a surprise that Pitt is willing to take a chance on a lower level recruit who is deemed to have potential.

I was also alarmed by the negativity of many of the posts in the blog article about the 2019 schedule last month.   It is one thing to be sarcastic as Michaelangelo was in his article, but once again, we have to read in the comments of  how pathetic the coaching staff is and there is little chance of success this coming season.

The fact is that Coach Narduzzi is 20 and 12 in the ACC, and those 20 wins rank 3rd in the league in that time period behind only Clemson and Miami.  Not bad for a program that for the last 30 plus seasons has had one 10-win season, one division title and two share league titles.   And for those who think Paul Chryst would have done the same or better, maybe so but remember it would have been Chad Voytik or Adam Bertke handing off the ball for 30 plus times per game for the first two years.  How did that work out in 2014 against a schedule when Pitt played only one team that finished ranked? Even with Conner running for 1700 yards? Would Henderson be running all those varieties of the jet sweep, or Aston catching all those shuttle passes, or Weah having a break-out year?  I highly doubt it.

Before you tell me that Narduzzi should be winning 9 and 10 games in his 3rd and 4th years, tell me who has done this at Pitt since Jackie Sherill?  Foge didn’t, Gottfried didn’t, Hackett didn’t, Majors II didn’t, Walt had a banner year in 2002 with 9 wins but only 6 his last two years.  Even Wanny went from 10 wins to 8 in his final season. Chryst had 6 wins in his 3rd year, again playing a very easy schedule.

And anyone who thinks these other guys played harder schedules than what Narduzzi has faced since he began is out of his/her mind.    You should know all of the data by now of how many Top 15 teams and 10 plus win teams Pitt has played the last four years.

Lastly, Narduzzi is taking a big hit because of the ranking of his latest recruiting class.   Narduzzi’s current class is ranked 49th made up of only 19 total recruits due to scholarship limits.  Well, did you know that Chryst’s 2013 class was ranked 47th … and that class was made up of 27 total recruits?   And that was before Franklin was at PSU, and the Nits were being sanctioned.

Yes, I was disappointed by the final three games this year.  I also very much think that Narduzzi needs to recruit better, improve the passing attack and beat UNC.   But I am not going to put down a coach who has done as good or better than any other of the eight coaches this program  has had over the past 35 years, and under harder conditions.

Perspective please!  And now time to get off of the soapbox.

 

Six ways to Saturday – Analyzing the 2019 Early Signing Class

Six ways to Saturday – Analyzing the 2019 Early Signing Class

Editor’s Note:  I had originally planned to do a more in-depth analysis on the class, but I have an 18 month old and a job and so this will have to wait.  I’ll plan on publishing it sometime between Christmas and New Years when there is some down time.  In the meantime have a look at Pat Narduzzi’s presser and feel free to weigh in.

There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this class already.  Narduzzi, as he is known to do, said a lot in his press conference yesterday afternoon.  He said they are building depth.  He said they are bringing in better athletes.  He said some guys could probably switch position.

Something interesting that I don’t think we’ve heard from him before, is that there are three different groups that work with strength coach Dave Andrews.

There is the “Power” group, and that is the big linemen, both offensive and defensive.  Pitt brought in seven of those.

There is the “Big Skill” group, which includes Quarterback (and what else?).  Narduzzi said Pitt brought in five of those.

There is also the “Skill” Group, which Narduzzi mentions includes Tight Ends and Linebackers.  Bigger guys who can run.  Pitt signed six of those.

Narduzzi mentioned the geographical breakdown.  Four from PA, Five from Florida.  A couple of kids from Canada.

He mentioned that 17 of the 18 signees were team captains.  Six were state champions.

He gave props to the recruiting office.  He gave props to the academic staff.  He gave props to Andre Powell for being from South Carolina and opening up that state.  He gave props to Shawn Watson for recruiting (four star QB) Davis Beville.

He talked about each one of the recruits.

He took a veiled shot at Penn State (ostensibly), and covered his hind-end on the whole Nick Malone thing.

“I consider the whole state of Pennsylvania is my message out there is we go slow. I am not going to offer guys early in this area and try to pull out on them. I just don’t want to do it.   So we’re always going to take our time in this area because too often people offer kids and then they back up and you never hear from them again. That’s not going to happen here. At least we sure hope it’s not going to happen. Sometimes things happen, but we want to offer those guys and we want them.”

He answered questions.  He acknowledged that Pitt is not Clemson, and threw out the obligatory remark about five stars.

“But we’re going to recruit the guys we’re capable of recruiting. We’re not going to whine if we don’t get a five-star. There are a lot of five stars that we love. There are a lot of five stars that we don’t love, and we’re like see you later, not good enough and there are a lot of things you don’t like about them. I like those hungry guys.”

All in all we’ve learned that you have to take everything that Pat Narduzzi says with a grain a salt.  And yet, he’s also shown that in many cases there is a grain of truth buried in all that hyperbole.  (See you in Charlotte anyone?)   And while I am guarding my expectations, it’s hard not to be a little bit excited.

Hail2Pitt!

Michaelangelo

 

 

Flipped a 2-Star

Flipped a 2-Star

Pitt flipped a Rivals 2* recruit yesterday.  6’4″ 225 DE/LB Nate Temple had been committed to Middle Tennessee State University until he took in the Virginia Tech game and decided that Pitt was the place for him.  Needless to say, a big win in a big game does tend to help the recruiting experience.

For what its worth 247 has him at a three-star and also bumps his weight up to 230.

nate temple
Looks like a high-character kid

Temple is a South Carolina product, which is noteworthy.  Also noteworthy was that the staff got a look at him at a University of Georgia football camp.  The conventional wisdom down here (I live in Atlanta), is that the so called “second tier” of southern recruits is still pretty  talented, even after the SEC has skimmed all the cream off the top.   Programs like Central Florida and (yep i’m going to say it) West Virginia are good examples.  If you take a look at the last few Hoopie recruiting classes, the star-power is nothing to write home about.  And yet, there they are, ranked higher than Pitt at #13.  Note the preponderance of southern states in their commit list.

The recruiting sites have the usual run down on Temple.  I took a look at his highlight video and this looks like your standard Narduzzi / Partridge under-the-radar DE recruit:  Lanky and tall with the frame to add some weight.  Good strength, as evidenced by his ability to push D-linemen back.  Above average athleticism and get-off.   Definitely a bit raw, but high motor.  Looks like he’s got a decent swim move at the high-school level.  I have no idea how that will translate in college, but I do know that his arms look looooong, which is something you can’t coach.

Right, wrong or indifferent, It’s clear to me that the staff knows they probably aren’t going to land any four-star DE’s this year, and their strategy is to grab as many developable two-and-three-stars as possible, in hopes that a diamond emerges from the rough (Nate will be their 5th DE commit for 2019).  Given the current state of recruiting, it’s not a bad strategy.  We’ll see how it pays off a few years down the road.

Hail to Pitt and Welcome Nate!  May you outperform your star ranking and make us all proud.

 

POV Sunday Podcast; August 27, 2017

http://triblive.com/sports/college/pitt/12663774-74/quicker-defense-offers-pitt-football-hope

“I’ll just reference one of our ACC officials that comes out and works our practices every day. I didn’t ask for it; he just said, ‘Hey, that Maddox is different than he was last year.’ So for whatever that is – maybe you guys can find him somewhere; I’m not going to give you his name. But it was good to hear that from somebody else that watches every day.”

That’s a big question for me, too. So much of this defensive scheme is geared toward stopping the run, but the DTs are a big part of it; are these young guys up to the task? Charlie Partridge says they’ve done a good job learning their assignments and filling the right gaps and all of that, but I think that area is where Pitt has taken the biggest hit with all the departures on defense. Shakir Soto and Tyrique Jarrett were really good against the run.

https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/over-under-freshmen-who-will-play

The Pitt football program added its second recruit of the week Thursday, as local product David Green committed to head coach Pat Narduzzi.

A 6-foot-1 defensive lineman from Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School, Green chose the Panthers over Virginia Tech, Minnesota and Rutgers, among others.

He is rated a 3-star player by 247Sports and is the fourth defensive lineman in the 2018 class, joining fellow WPIAL products Noah Palmer and Devin Danielson and Maryland native John Morgan.

In total, the class of 2018 now has 14 players, with all 14 ranked as 3-star recruits by 247Sports. The website currently has the group ranked No. 53 in the country and No. 12 in the ACC

Redshirt SRs for 2018… Drop Herndon and LB Jaylen Williams?

https://pittsburgh.forums.rivals.com/threads/the-2017-scholarship-board.112979/

http://triblive.com/sports/college/pitt/12663774-74/quicker-defense-offers-pitt-football-hope

Losses on the defensive line have forced shuffling and resulted in the emergence of junior defensive tackle Shane Roy, who was repeatedly recognized by coaches for his efforts in camp. Roy also needs seasoning, but he may start next to redshirt freshman Keyshon Camp.

Pitt needs a pass rush to offset deficiencies in its secondary, but not even Ejuan Price’s 13 sacks could help last year. With Price in the NFL, that task is passed on to Dewayne Hendrix and Edwards. Hendrix is another of those players whose potential — due to injury — has been talked about more than put on display.

Both players are transfers, which says something about Pitt’s recruitment of defensive linemen before Narduzzi arrived in 2015.

Team Rankings Website

More detailed info on the GT vs Pitt game…

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/Pitt/2017/08/26/pitt-football-heinz-field-atmosphere-improvements-college-football-2017/stories/201708260045

https://pittnews.com/article/121426/sports/pitt-alters-sweet-caroline-tradition/

Here is that blue shirt I mentioned…

POV Shirt Blue

Here is the pinned Tailgating Info article – please visit and let us know if you’ll be there….