Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two Gone from Football Team

Seniors Tommie Duhart and T.J. Porter will transfer to another school.

Pitt senior defensive tackle Tommie Duhart and senior wide receiver T.J. Porter will no longer be in the program as both players, according to an official statement sent out by the athletic department, "have left the program and decided to transfer."

Both had been suspended in the Spring. Porter's departure could actually be good news for Jonathan Baldwin, who may see a few more balls his if he shouldn't have been seeing more anyway.

T.J. actually led the team in receptions in 2007 - not sure if I knew that until I checked out his bio.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three More Pitt Players Signed as Free Agents

Yesterday we heard about C.J. Davis and Mark Estermyer.

Today, Dave Brytus (punter), Rashaad Duncan (defensive lineman), and Adam Graessle (2006 graduate/punter) all signed deals with the Ravens, Buccaneers, and Packers respectively.

This brings the total number of Pitt players either drafted or signed as free agents to nine.

Continuing a Worthy Cause

Approximately $3,000.00 was collected at the Pitt Spring game for the Fallen Heroes Fund honoring the three slain Pittsburgh police officers.

If you're still interested in contributing, you can find the address in the link.

Local Markets React to NFL Draft

In the aftermath of the NFL Draft, Shady McCoy's high school coach sees shades of Ricky Watters:

Weachter coached McCoy at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg. McDevitt also produced Ricky Watters, back when. Weachter did not coach Watters, but he is like the rest of us, interested in the comparisons between the two running backs. Weachter says he has a witness.

"My defensive coordinator was there when Ricky played," Weachter said. "He told me that at the end of LeSean's junior year, he was better than Ricky as a senior."

While, Larry Weisman of USA Today likes what the Eagles did, he's not sold on the 49ers draft...including the acquisition of Scott McKillop.

"WR Michael Crabtree fell to them and they grabbed him. They did not have much to work with after that, though, and they may not have done much with what they had. RB Glen Coffee shows few measureable NFL skills, does not approach what they have in Frank Gore. LB Scott McKillop is essentially Coffee's equal, though he excelled in combine workouts. Looks like a journeyman. QB Nate Davis joins a carousel, decent value in fifth round."

During his conference call with the media, McKillop says he didn't know of any interest on the 49ers end.

RE: Did you expect that the 49ers had a lot of interest in you?

“Not really. The first time that I was able to meet with the 49ers was actually the last day I was at the combine when not Head Coach Singletary but his nephew I believe approached me. He had an opportunity to… He had previously coached at Buffalo and we had a little, quick time to talk for about 10 minutes and that was my first opportunity. I really wasn’t aware of this, but I’m more than happy right now.”

Meanwhile, the Bears only seem interested in Derek Kinder's blocking ability.

Kent Somers states what most of us already know - if LaRod Stephens-Howling has a chance to make the team, it's going to be because of his ability as a kick returner.

I know it's still to early to tell, but it looks like McCoy and McKillop could both be steals. We'll see.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Panthers Land 2nd Football Recruit for 2010

Lost in the mix a little of all the draft hype was Aaron Donald of Penn Hills becoming Pitt's second recruit to give a verbal for 2010. Apparently, Pitt linebacker Mick Williams factored into his decision:

All it took for Aaron Donald was one look at Pitt defensive tackle Mick Williams to convince the Penn Hills star that the could play the same position for the Panthers.

On Thursday, the 6-foot, 260-pound Donald gave a verbal commitment to Pitt. One of the top defensive linemen in the WPIAL, he fills a position of need for the Panthers, who will lose defensive tackles Williams, Gus Mustakas and Craig Bokor to graduation next year.

"Just looking at him, he's no bigger than me, and he plays defensive tackle," Donald said. "If he can play there, I feel like I can, too. I'm an undersized defensive lineman, but Pitt has been telling me I'd fit in perfect. I feel like I'm a dominant defensive tackle at my size. It's hard to block me. I use my speed and quickness to get past offensive linemen."

Here's some pretty impressive video on him. Anxious to see what he can do his senior year after posting 14 sacks as a junior.

Donald had offers from Rutgers, Toledo, and Akron.

NFL Draft Recap

After, getting some hosting and website issues resolved, hopefully this will be the last layoff in a long time.

This past weekend was fairly successful for the Panthers as several players were drafted...albeit, some a little lower than maybe they anticipated.

LeSean McCoy, hoping to be a first-round pick, fell to the lower end of the second round. As the article mentions, Shady may have cost himself as much as $30 - $40 million had he come back and been a top ten pick. That may be true, but considering where he was drafted, it would have been a reach for him to get that high. Many teams wait to select running backs and he would have really had to have a breakout year to move up that high.

Scott McKillop was next for the Panthers - down in the 5th round. But he didn't sound too disappointed in it. The PG played up the angle of McKillop going to play under Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary.

"It is great to be drafted by a guy who is the best player ever at the position I am trying to play," McKillop said. "I'm happy ... I said, just give me an opportunity and I'll make the most of it by any means necessary. Obviously I would have liked to get picked sooner, but the thing is, the 49ers have a spot for me and really wanted me, and that means more.

"I think finding the right fit for me was the most important thing and I really believe that this is a great, great situation for me."

Pitt then ended up with a pair of seventh rounders in LaRod Stephens-Howling and Derek Kinder. It was good to see both of them get drafted after some trying circumstances. LSH seemed genuinely excited about getting drafted:

“I couldn’t think of a better birthday present,” Stephens-Howling said from his Johnstown home, where he watched the draft with some immediate family members.

“I was told the whole time that I could go from the sixth round to free agent,” he said. “I just tried to relax as much as I could and take my mind off it. Seattle and Arizona called me about being a free agent before I got drafted, so I was thinking I was only going to be a free agent.

Kinder also got a mention in his local paper in Buffalo.

“I got a phone call first, and I was just getting antsy. I had to leave the house and play catch for a little bit with my (5-year-old) nephew when the Cardinals called. (But) it’s a great feeling. ... We just celebrated mine (pick), then saw (former Pitt player) Rashad (Jennings). I felt good for him, and then we saw Derek Kinder. It was great to see guys you know get a chance.”

Almost lost in the mix was former Panther Rashad Jennings who went on to have a pretty good career at I-AA Liberty with 1,500+ yards last year - he was drafted right before Kinder.

Another former Pitt player, running back Rashad Jennings, was chosen by Jacksonville one pick ahead of Kinder. Jennings played for the Panthers as a freshman in 2005, but transferred before his sophomore season to Division I-AA Liberty in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va.

After the draft, two Pitt players hoping to be drafted, long-snapper Mark Estermyer and offensive lineman C.J. Davis, quickly found homes with the Steelers and Carolina Panthers respectively. Was a little surprised to see C.J. fall. There had been talk about him getting drafted in a late round.