One month ago, Paul Chryst has exactly one commitment for the 2014 recruiting class. Naturally, most Pitt fans were in panic mode. Was there a reason to be? Perhaps. Still, one month later he has locked down 13 more commitments. The recent run should silence some critics for now, but the quality of these recruits have raised questions. Sure, Pitt has not nailed down too many elite players, but they have landed some. Other guys have floated under the radar, and it could be a risk. I think until Paul Chryst really gets off the ground here, the comparisons and similarities to Wisconsin must come naturally. Wisconsin rarely landed elite recruits, but consistently found themselves towards the top of the Big Ten. I think Chryst and his staff trust their coaching abilities and evaluation process, and to their credit it worked in Wisconsin. I am going to look at what Pitt has so far by ranking the 14 players, and look into the future of what they still need.
1. Michael Grimm OT Pennsylvania - Grimm is a massive presence on the offensive line. He is a 3
star by Scout and ESPN, and 4 star by ESPN. Grimm stands at an overpowering 6-6 330 pounds. He chose Pitt over numerous BCS level offers, and is regarded as one of the best prospects out of Western Pennsylvania.
2. Wade Freebeck QB Florida - You may look at this kid's offer list, and wonder why I think he is a great recruit. There is a story with this player, and he may be the steal of the year for Pitt. He was injured this past offseason and missed Spring evaluations and Summer camps, so that hurt him right there. He also came from a relatively unknown school to transfer to Florida powerhouse, St. Thomas Aquinas this season. The high profile program, and a healthy senior season, and you are looking at a top flight quarterback prospect. Florida did offer Freebeck at one time, so he has elite enough talent for a national power to have offered him. ESPN sees him as a four star, Rivals only a three. It may be difficult to hang on to him, because some SEC schools should, and likely will, offer Freebeck.
3. Elijah Zeise WR Pennsylvania - Zeise started for Pennsylvania power, North Allegheny, since he was a sophomore. Elijah can play either safety or receiver, but Pitt is taking him for offense. He is a big 6-2 185, with room to get stronger. Zeise chose to play at Pitt over Arizona and WVU, and the Ivy League for that matter. He is a bright and talented kid, a good addition for any program.
4. Mike Herndon DT Virginia - I look for Pitt to open up Virginia as their Southern state of choice with the move to the ACC, and Henrdon appears to be their first victory from VA. He chose Pitt over home state power, Virginia Tech. He is a massive 6-4 325 defensive tackle that is an excellent athlete. He plays middle linebacker in high school, not many 325 pounders can move like he can.
5. Connor Hayes OG Michigan - Hayes is a good offensive line prospect, and fits the Paul Chryst model of players. He is a big 6-4 presence, with room to add weight. Four year starter in the highest classification in Michigan. He chose Pitt over Syracuse, Duke, and Indiana.
6. Shane Roy DE Ohio - Roy is a nice sized defensive line recruit from the Cincinnati area. He had offers from Boston College and Illinois among many MAC looks. Defensive Line is thin for the Panthers, so he can make an impact soon.
7. Jalen Williams S New York - Williams got the ball rolling on the run of recruits in mid June. He is a Safety with some talent from New York. Rivals sees him as a 3 star, and he picked Pitt over in-state teams, Buffalo and Syracuse
8. Connor Dintino DT Connecticut - Dintino is looked at on recruiting services on offense, but Pitt is taking him for defense. A rare pickup from Connecticut, Dintino is a big player that will be able to plug the middle.
9. Adam Bertke QB Ohio - Bertke may be considered the second option at quarterback for this class, but he won't see it that way. Bertke is a confident player that has won two state championships in his career already, albeit in the smallest classification in Ohio. ESPN likes him much more than Rivals, as he is regarded as Pitt's second best recruit. He has big time size (6-5 210) and has a winning pedigree, could be a steal for Pitt. He had some big ten offers in Purdue and Illinois.
10. Avonte Maddox CB Michigan - Speed is the name of the game. A reported 4.3 40 time is impressive, although he lacks ideal size. A college weight room should do him wonders. You can't turn down speed. He has a Cincinnati offer to go along with a variety of MAC offers.
11. Patrick Amara DB Pennsylvania - Amara seems like an athletic player from Philadelphia powerhouse, West Catholic. He should end up on defense, and I think he can be a really good safety down the line. Not a huge recruit, but you still need versatile guys like this in every recruiting class.
12. Brian O'Neill TE Delaware - O'Neill is a big 6-6 tight end prospect. Pitt has loaded up on some talent in this spot in recent seasons, so it may not be the worst idea to take a project mixed in there.
13. Dennis Briggs RB Pennsylvania - A local back that has some ability, but lacked exposure. He does not come from a football powerhouse, and flew under the radar. I think Pitt will take two backs in this class, and the other one will be more highly regarded than Briggs.
14. Quintin Wirgins LB Pennsylvania - Wirgins is another local prospect, and seems like a fallback option already. Pitt missed on some of their top linebacker targets, and Wirgins has some ability. Temple was his only other division one offer, so you have to question that a bit. He is a productive player in AAAA and has size in his defense.
That is how I see things to date, but here is what Pitt should look to add before February position by position.
QB - Pitt should be done here. They need to battle some teams to keep Freebeck aboard, but I think he sticks with Pitt.
RB - Briggs is a nice start, but they would like to add another higher profile player. Shai McKenzie from nearby Washington, PA is priority one. Still Chris James from Illinois or Qadree Ollison from New York would be excellent additions. Strange enough, all three of these players have named a top 5, and Pitt is in all three of them.
WR - Pitt added 4 receivers last year, and have Zeise already this year. Still, adding a few more would be ideal. Jamil Kamara and Juwann Winfree are two four star prospects that have wvisited Pitt recently, and have them making their initial cuts. Pitt may be in good standing for both. Saeed Blacknall and KJ Williams are two other four star players that don't appear to have Pitt at the very top of their list, but they have not dismissed them completely. Dorian Baker from Ohio and Steve Ishmael of Florida are 3 star guys that Pitt will also monitor closely. Local athlete, Malik Hooker, would be an excellent addition also.
TE - I expect Pitt to be done with O'Neill.
OL - Pitt added five last season, and they will probably add 4 this season. Grimm and Hayes are a good start, but they would love to add local linemen, Alex Bookser. Brady Taylor from Ohio could also come into play. I think it is hard to pinpoint any other names at this point.
DT - Ricky Walker from Virginia is a four star to keep an eye on. Two local guys, Brock Boxen and Jaleel Fields, also hold Pitt offers. They have two commits with Dintino and Herndon already, so look for one more defensive tackle, if any, to be added to the class.
DE - Pitt already has Shane Roy, but I could see them going for one more End.
LB - I think Pitt should consider adding one, maybe two more. Jawhaun Bentley of DeMatha would be an ideal addition.
CB - Maddox is their only corner, but they will add one or two more if necessary. Jaquan Davidson is a local product that could commit eventually.
S - Dravon is the main target here. Also have to think they will go hard after Nicholson as well. Still,
Rasaan Stewart from Eastern PA will be mixed in there also.