19 June 2011
It was a busy weekend for Coach Graham and his staff as four high school juniors committed to come to Pitt. The Panthers picked up two verbals from Pennsylvania and two from Ohio. In no particular order:
- Brandyn Cook, OL, Cincinnati, OH: Cook is currently unrated by the recruiting sites and only had offers from Miami(Oh) and Youngstown State. His appeal to Pitt seems to be his experience snapping from the center position, something that became a bonafide crisis during the spring. His coach spoke glowingly about Cook being one of the best lineman he's coached in 20+ years.
- William Parks, DB, Philadelphia, PA: Parks has nice size (6'2", 180 lbs) but played on a terrible team last season. He similarly had an unimpressive offer list with Pitt being his only BCS offer.
- Trenton Coles, WR, Philadelphia, PA: Coles is the reigning state champion in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. I have no idea how he can catch or run routes, but speed is speed. Coles is a 3-star player according to Rivals and a 2-star according to Scout (although Scout's evaluation is pretty strong). He helped the Bears repeat as "single A" state champions last season.
- Myles Hilliard, DE, Bedford, OH: Finally, some offers. Hilliard picked Pitt over West Virginia, Michigan State, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Minnesota and eight others. Both Rivals and Scout have him as a 3-star guy. Hilliard is a pretty big kid (6'6" 242 lbs), apparently with room to grow.
I'm always happy when a player the coaching staff wants enough to offer a scholarship picks Pitt. However - and you know there had to a however - there's justifiably some concern. The lack of stars and offers is troubling, but that certainly isn't the be-all-end-all. Zeise writes the conflict that many Pitt fans are feeling:
Now, the spin, I am sure from the PR machine of the Panthers will go something like "we got all kinds of big-time recruits the past six years and where did that get us?" (I know this because I've heard it already) and there is some truth to that --Dave Wannstedt was indeed a master of "winning" on signing day but lost too many key games in the fall to make it pay off so great recruiting classes don't always mean great results on the field.
However, here is the other side of that -- Wannstedt's teams were rarely blown out and almost never overmatched once he had his own guys in place and the reason for that is this -- he recruited players who were good enough to play in a BCS conference against BCS conference opponents.
So while he didn't win every game he should have, his team had a chance to win because they could compete with just about everyone.
And that is what is troublesome about Pitt having so many guys committed so early who have no other offers of consequence -- these are for the most part guys Pitt could get if they offered them in January so why the rush to get them now?
Now, I will say there is something to be said about recruiting guys to fit your system and Todd Graham has said often that guys they are looking at and recruiting are different than most teams because their systems on offense and defense are so much different than most teams.
There are guys - particularly linemen - who fit what Pitt is looking for but don't fit for other teams so there will be some who come in and become stars despite not being recruited by anyone else.
For now, I'm willing to buy into the "unique system" argument. Pitt will still need a few sure-things (or at least "sure-er"-things, if that's possible) to make most fans relax.
However, those are additions for the 2012 class; it seems as though we're not quite done with 2011.
Woodland Hills linebacker Ejuan Price has been granted his release from his letter of intent and appears Pitt-bound. Price famously flipped a coin at his signing day ceremony to decide between Ohio State and Pitt. Although he says it has nothing to do with it, I find it tough to believe the current mess at Ohio State had nothing to do with his decision:
“It had nothing to do with the allegations,” he said. “I know what kind of people they are. Everybody makes mistakes, but that’s just not where my heart is. I don’t think that’s where I wanted to go in the first place. They’re still good people whether all of that stuff happened or not. Coach Tressel is still a good guy. They’re still all right with me.”
“I got some late interest from a couple of schools, but it looks like I’ll probably end up at Pittsburgh,” he said.
Because Price hasn't yet enrolled at Ohio State - and has been granted a release from his otherwise binding letter of intent - he is immediately eligible at Pitt, meaning he could possibly play next season. I'd still expect a redshirt for Price, but I'm sure the coaches appreciate having the option.
Welcome aboard, Ejuan.
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