Sunday, June 28, 2009

Back on the Recruiting Trail

Pitt football's recruiting total for 2010 is now up to ten.

"Don Bosco Prep stars Bryan Murphy and Brandon Sacco committed to the Panthers early this afternoon, bringing the Panthers total to 10 commitments from the class of 2010."

Murphy, a DE from New Jersey, may have been the biggest pickup today. He was a highly-desired recruit, offered by Louisville, Michigan State, and many others.

Don't discount the other three, though:

"Sacco, an offensive lineman, chose Pitt over Big East rival Rutgers. Murphy, who was recruited as a defensive end, had offers from several schools, including Boston College, Colorado, Louisville, Maryland and Michigan State.

Weatherspoon had 57 receptions for 1,470 yards and 20 touchdowns while helping to lead Clairton to the WPIAL Class A championship and the PIAA title game. He is a member of the Tribune-Review Terrific 25.

Also, T.J. Peeler of Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., committed to Pitt. Peeler, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound running back, had offers from West Virginia and North Carolina State. He missed three games with an injury last season, but rushed for 1,145 yards and 18 touchdowns on 129 carries with an 8.9 yard average."

8.9 yard average? Man, you almost want to give him (Peeler) the ball every time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Draft Day Disappointments

Okay, so here's the deal.

I'm more sorry for Sam Young than I am DeJuan Blair. Okay, so maybe sorry's not the right word, but I can't think of a better one.

Sam worked hard for four years and really improved every year. He could have listened to people who told him he was good enough to leave a year early, but didn't. Could have believed the hype, but didn't. He stayed focused, determined to make himself better. Unfortunately, things didn't break his way - despite improving his shot significantly this year. Man, I would have hated to see where he would have landed had he left early...he may not even have been picked or been looking at a Mark Blount type situation.

Meanwhile, DeJuan Blair steamrolled through this past season...on a whirlwind journey that seemed to only pick up speed every day. He went from being told he'd be hard pressed to play in the NBA to being told he'd have a good chance at being a lottery pick. Shortly after the season, he declared he'd had enough and claimed he'd read up on the internet boards that he was a possible lottery choice (though I think he may have later said he was joking) and without even waiting, signed a rep immediately - ending his eligibility. It's like Jeff Goldblum said in the Jurassic Park movie - he was so occupied with wondering if he could that he didn't stop to think if he 'should.'

Look, I won't deny anyone the opportunity to go early if you think you're a guaranteed lock to be a first-round pick. But Blair didn't even wait - had he, he might have seen he was slipping on some of those draft boards he claimed he was monitoring. The argument was never that he shouldn't go - it was that he should wait and decide LATER if he should go.

I wish both the best of luck - I just think Blair may have been a bit hasty with this one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Grizzly Bear Goes to Rome

Just a small heads up to catch DeJuan Blair on The Jim Rome Show tomorrow afternoon. Time has not been announced as far as I know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pitt Lands DE

Pitt landed a solid player in defensive end T.J. Clemmings for the 2010 class.

I tend to not so much look at ratings of players as I do the list of colleges who's interested in them. Maybe it's just me, but I believe that the colleges and recruiting coaches happen to know more than recruiting services. Anyway. If you go by that, this guy is a real good get - he was offered scholarships by Florida, Tennessee, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Miami among others.

Perhaps most telling is his potential - he's only played one year of high school football and seemed to be desired by every college in the country.

Let's hope this is the beginning of a pick up in recruiting.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gibbs In, Taylor Out

Pitt sophomore Ashton Gibbs has been added to the U.S. under-19 basketball team, while incoming freshman Dante Taylor didn't make it.

It seemed like it would be the other way around, but perhaps they needed guard help instead.

Congrats to Ashton, who Pitt will be counting on in a big way in the Fall.

Dixon to USC Officially Dead

Well, as if the Dixon to USC rumors weren't inherently foolish enough, those who said there was a chance he could leave can now officially stop clamoring for it to happen.

Former college and NBA coach Kevin O'Neill was officially hired as the Trojans' new head coach.

The number of reasons I didn't think Dixon would take the job is seemingly endless. The biggest factors being:

1. USC could likely be headed for major violations with the recruitment of O.J. Mayo
2. Dixon's taking the job would result in a large distraction of his USA under-19 team
3. The Dixon family has said they love Pittsburgh and he's been here for a while now

Further, USC just isn't that great of a job in my opinion. They have to compete with UCLA, not to mention, USC football. They haven't any continued success in a while and Pitt has a run of success nearly unrivaled over the past ten years (annoying 'can't get to the Final Four' thing notwithstanding). Plus, Pitt is starting to land the type of recruits to continue that run (i.e. Blair, Taylor, Epps).

To me, the number of jobs better than Pitt right now is getting smaller and smaller.

I will say this, however. I think it looks somewhat bad on Dixon's part to not come outright and say he's not interested in the job.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gunn Situation Resolved

A bit of good news for Pitt LB Adam Gunn - charges were dropped today from his May 10 brush with the law.

He has been reinstated and is now back with the team.

Seems that the fact he did not have any weapons had a big role in the outcome. Let's hope he learned something.

Pitt Lands a Recruit in the Midst of a Slow Start

Even a recent solid get by the team can't quench the feeling of a slow recruiting season thus far. Wannstedt, though, seemed quick to squash the talk about a down period:

"Wannstedt said he's confident the Panthers will have a great recruiting class by February. This week, the Panthers will hold two more prospect camps and he expects the total number of players to come through to be about 650, which is far more than they have had in the past.

"If you think about, we had about 50 or 60 kids at our prospect camps," Wannstedt said.

"So we're making a lot of progress in that area. And at this point, we are way ahead in recruiting than we have been -- at this point the last few years there were probably 40 kids I was comfortable offering a scholarship to -- right now, I'd say we are at about 75.

"We are further ahead with quality names at every position and more players come through here than at any point since I have been here. We're banging heads with the top programs for kids and there will be some wins and losses. We believe we have the best program in the country, but it may not be for everyone.

"But we're going to get our share of guys, and they are going to be great players who are going to be excited about winning and being a part of Pitt football."

I'm not buying that talk so quickly. It may be early, but other teams have managed to beat us out of not only some good talent, but talent that was expected to come here. Pitt still has a lot of work to do.

Getting Knox when he had offers from a host of teams including PSU and Michigan was a huge get...especially after the other losses a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ralph is Back in Black...and Red

Now here's something you don't see everyday - a head coach leaving to become an assistant willingly...albeit at a bigger school.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Ralph Willard was named associate head coach at Louisville on Wednesday after he resigned as the head coach at Holy Cross, both universities announced.

"I've been pursuing Ralph for the last 10 years," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said in a statement. "I can't tell you how excited we are that he has joined our staff and we are back together again. Ralph is truly one of the best minds in our game."

Yes, Ralph is back in the Big East. It'd be more fun, and interesting, if he were a head coach.

More Lowballing

Doug Gottlieb apparently still has some sort of grudge against Pitt - either that or he really just likes playing 'the bad guy.'

While I think it's true Blair could slip, I've seen no one project him out of the first round - something that would happen if Gottlieb were apparently drafting.

Now I should point out that this is Gottlieb's top 30 players - not necessarily who will be drafted where. Still, it's kind of a head-scratcher that he's not in that list.

And in a smaller snub, Gottlieb didn't list Dante Taylor among his top ten freshmen he can't wait to see next year.

Talk about a grouch.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Recruiting Woes

Pitt's recruiting woes continued in a big way when offensive linemen Miles Dieffenbach of Fox Chapel and Tom Ricketts of North Allegheny BOTH committed to Penn State.

For those who know, this was extremely disappointing because both had Pitt ties. Dieffenbach's father is a tennis coach at Pitt and Ricketts' played football here (his mother was also a swimmer). Both were considered top recruits.

Earlier this week, Smizik in his PG blog noted, correctly, that Wannstedt has to do a better job of protecting the Western PA area. Bob, also correctly points out that any criticism these kids are getting is unfair. They have to do what they feel is best for them.

That said, for Pitt to lose one of these guys is unexpected - to lose both is borderline inexcusable. 3-0 bowl losses can help prevent these types of things...not to sound bitter.

Wannstedt has, overall, done a solid job recruiting. However, positives such as nine-win seasons seem to be negated by things such as the Sun Bowl debacle. Wannstedt wants to be the guy to take Pitt to the next level, but you have to wonder if he's the guy who can do it. I've said it before and I'll say it again - he is a better recruiter and 'seller' of the university than he is a head coach (in my opinion).

A Slimmer Version

Word out of the NBA Draft camps is that DeJuan Blair has shed 30 pounds.

Thanks to the regimented workout schedule and a strict diet, Blair sweated away more than 30 pounds. His new and improved body (he now weighs in at 275 pounds) and his impressive workouts for NBA scouts have solidified his position as a first-round selection in the NBA draft June 25, and he is on the cusp of being a lottery pick.

Blair has rocketed up draft boards after spending a month in Florida, where he proved that he can be disciplined with his diet and demonstrated a tremendous desire to compete.

"It's been all work down here," Blair said by telephone from Florida this week. "There were days when I didn't want to get up, but I had to. I had to grind it out. It's all paying off. I hope to be in the lottery and do something people told me I couldn't do."

According to the article from Fitipaldo in the PG, Blair has hopes of landing in the lottery. Right now, it seems like a mystery where he'll end up. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go anywhere from the end of the lottery to the end of the first round.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Women's 2009-10 Basketball Opponents Released

The Pitt women's basketball opponents for 2009-2010 have been released.

The highlight of the home schedule is the UCONN game. Dates/times will be out later.