Thursday, January 15, 2009

Additions and Subtractions

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.


johnny said...


Any update on Malcolm Bush or is he the backup plan for if we don't get one of two of these players. I respect that Dan Mason wants to make a well-reasoned decision, and his recent interview in the PG shows that he is pretty mature, but I hope that the staff has made it clear that if he hasn't made his decision by next weekend, the scholarship may not be there for him since Pitt has other needs to fulfill. Regardless, I will state again for the record that we should recruit both Mason and Gamble, and the fact that they both project as MLB, be damned.

DPJ said...

I will be SHOCKED if Bush doesn't pick Pitt. Wannstedt just went to go see him and Bush was very happy about that. Not to mention we are heavily pushing the angle that UNC is either over or close to being over their scholarship limit.

Recruiting is a dirty game, but sometimes you have to play in the mud. Even if it is trying to convince a guy (like Bush) that he is the backup plan for UNC and not a top target (like he is for us).

I'm with you on the Mason and Gamble idea. Outside of Greg Williams, we have no idea what to expect from our linebackers. Shane Murray is coming back from an injury that could potentially slow him down and everyone else on the roster really hasn't done anything to separate themselves. Also, will Adam Gunn be allowed an extra year? I think Gunn has seen his last days in a Pitt uniform, but last I heard they were trying to get him an extra year.

People may disagree but with moving Hale to LB and the unknowns surround the position, I'd say linebacker is our biggest question mark this year and will continue to be for the next couple of years unless we get some surprises from the current group that we have.

johnny said...


I feel the same way about Bush, and I'll parlay that by suggesting that he also gets move to Defensive End by Spring Ball of his freshman year.

I think you meant 'moving Hale from LB', since I think he's a DE now, but I'm with you on the lack of depth at LB being a huge concern.

Greg Williams is a beast and is soaring up my chart of favorite Panthers. I'm hoping that between Tristan Roberts, Nate Nix, and Max Gruder, we can cobble together some kind of serviceable depth chart, especially since Brandon Lindsey seems to have fallen off of the radar. I heard rumors of him moving to fullback, but I don't see the point since he's in Hyno's class, and the lack of depth at LB seems to be a greater concern. I've even seen that Elijah Fields may move to LB, but that move seems to have Tommie Campbell version 2.0 written all over it.

The obverse of that defensive coin is that our d-line looks solid for years to come, and we look sick at DE in particular. If enough of the speedy, athletic defensive backs that we've recruited can assert themselves, it may mask deficiencies at linebacker.

DPJ said...

Fields has a ton of work to do off of the field before he worries about moving to linebacker.

rkohberger said...

This, to me, will be an exciting offseason as we have a lot of position battles between what appear to be pretty talented players.

LB is certainly one area where I think we'll see tough competition. Just as Williams kind of came out of nowhere (as did McKillop two years ago) I think we'll be pleasantly surprised by someone at LB - and IMO that may be Max Gruder. I know the staff is pretty high on him.

Regarding Duhart and Porter - how many chances does a kid except to get, especially from someone like Dave Wannstedt who seems to have a rather low tolerance for actions that are detrimental to the team?

Duhart is easily replaced IMO. Porter is a different story, although if that situation plays out in the negative for Porter - Aundre' Wright may have a great window of opportunity to excel, as could players like Cam Saddler or others.

Agree about Elijah Fields also, but I've been wary of the hype that surrounded him since his recruitment. It's not just him though - I discount every "star" recruit (all 5 star and some 4 star kids) until they actually do something positive for an extended time on the field. (OT: Read the story on Jamie Dixon's approach to recruiting in the 01/16 PG this morning).

Of all these 'can't miss' kids that we recruit - one has lived up to the advanced billing so far recently, LeSean McCoy. Others have contributed to our success no doubt, and will continue to do so, and perhaps blossom into bona fide stardom, but it's extremely rare for that to happen in a player's true freshman year.

Honestly, it's the too high expectations of the fans that is at fault here, more so than the kids themselves IMO. Baldwin is a good example of this. Why anyone thought that a kid - regardless of his athletic ability - who never played WR in HS, and was a TE on a non-passing small school, would waltz in and be the 'next Larry Fitzgerald" is beyond me. Obviously he had a ton to learn about playing WR at this level. he'll be good, possibly great, but I never felt it would be in his first season. Just like I felt Fields would be just like any other recruit in his first years. Throw in the struggles Fields has had with all his responsibilities and his is an uphill climb.

The good news is that we've been able to redshirt kids over the last two years to give them that year to get their feet on the ground - and we have some real talent waiting in the wings for a chance at the starter's jobs.

PittInCT said...

Is "Hale moving to DE" speculation, or is there anything backing that up? I was under the impression the reason he chose Pitt was because we were one of the only schools recruiting him at MLB rather than DE...

DPJ said...

Hale has officially been moved to D-End.

Also I am in Jamie's camp, I'd rather have a guy who improves long term instead of a guy with a 4 or 5 star ranking (minus Fitz and Shady of course!)