It's beginning to enter the time of year where we see the final pieces added in terms of recruiting. Sure there might be a couple of LOI day surprises, but usually that involves adding a guy or two who we really had no idea the staff was recruiting. Also, I don't expect us to get "morelli-ed" this year as all of the guys seem to be pretty solid in their verbals to Pitt.
I was hoping that by now we would have some more solid news on Nunez, Holmes, Gordon, and Mason, but all 4 are right where they were when they visited. Nunez would probably be the first of the four to verbal if we are fortunate enough to land any of them. Holmes and Gordon have been pretty quiet, so it is hard to say which way they are leaning.
Dan Mason is also a pretty interesting guy. I would have bet back in September that he was going to commit to Pitt before 2008 ended. The way it looks now is that he is going to wait even longer now. The problem with this is that unless he gives a "silent commitment" (only the player and coach know), it will force Wanny and staff to start looking in other areas for another linebacker. This won't only impact Pitt, but it also will happen with the other schools that are actively recruiting him. Unless you are a Pryor type where a scholarship will either be held or "made available" to you, waiting can be a very risky move. Hopefully we hear something soon from Mason so that we'll have a better idea of where to move forward to.
As the loyal readers here know, I've said from the beginning of the season that we will be taking more players than we have scholarships to give. At first the numbers I was told was anywhere from 15 - 18. Now it looks like the number has been bumped up to anywhere between 18 - 22.
Every year we see players leave for different reasons whether it is personal, academic, or simply a 5th year senior not having his scholarship renewed. There is some heavy speculation that Kevan Smith will decline the proposal by Wanny to move to tight end and may end up joining the baseball team. Last year I suspected that Smith would not be on the roster this year, but I was wrong. I think that we will see Smith on the team next year, however the position is to be determined.
Another interesting item is that it looks like Tommie Duhart and TJ Porter are back on the short leash with Wannstedt. Duhart had problems earlier in the season that were down played by Wannstedt. It appears that these issues are arising again. Tommie is an extremely talented player who I would love to see be a major part of this team, but unless he gets his act together off the field and becomes more devoted to this team, then he might be one of the casualties of this off season.
TJ Porter is in Wannstedt's doghouse. It appears that Wannstedt will be taking a "zero-tolerance" approach with TJ. I hope it works out for Mr. Porter because he is an extremely talented individual. As we have seen with his play over the last few years, he can have a big impact. One benefit he has received is that he was always supported by the coaches and fans. When he left camp a couple of years ago because he was homesick, people gave him the benefit of the doubt and defended him as just being an 18 year old who needed some time to adjust (which was the opposite of what people did with Pat Bostick). He was given a big opportunity to come back and prove himself which he was on his way to doing. So hopefully these off the field issues are resolved and we get to see #9 back on the Panthers again next year.