With Signing Day essentially over for Pitt, is it too early to begin worrying about 2013 yet? Sure it is. Still, let's take an early look at where the Panthers need to focus on in next year's class. Recruiting will really begin to gain steam throughout the summer and once games begin in the fall when recruits will take their official visits, so this stuff really isn't all that far away.
QB: Ideally, Pitt signs at least one quarterback a year. And with Tino graduating next spring, Pitt will have a scholarship available. You also have wonder if Trey Anderson will still be around as he was recruited specifically for Todd Graham's offense. So Pitt could be looking for two QBs to sign to have four on the depth chart to go along with Chad Voytik, Mark Myers, and Anderson if he's still around. One name to watch is Malik Zaire out of Kettering, Ohio. Zaire already has a bunch of offers, including one from Pitt. He does have an offer from Ohio State as well, and you can bet with Urban Meyer at Ohio State that it will be hard for any program to get elite prospects out of that state. But perhaps with Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes' current quarterback, only being a sophomore next season, Pitt could have a chance.
RB/FB: At the very least, Pitt needs to sign a true fullback because they don't really have one on the roster and they did not get one this year. A couple names to watch at running back are Deveon Smith out of Warren, Ohio and David Williams out of Philadelphia. Both are ESPNU 150 Watch Listers and it can never hurt to have more backs, despite Pitt's youth at the position outside of Ray Graham.
At fullback, one name I think Pitt will go after is Shahydodd Chavis. He is a teammate of David Williams at West Catholic High School.WR: Pitt needs some talent and depth at receiver, especially with Mike Shanahan and Cam Saddler graduating after next season. The big name is Robert Foster, who is a local standout and will draw some big time interest. Ohio State is reportedly going hard after him, but Pitt has to be able to keep guys like this at home. He is friends with Rushel Shell, so that could help. Another name to watch is Kevin Gladney out of Akron, Ohio. Since Pitt is going to the ACC, the Panthers needs to start making more inroads in those territories as well. Two receivers in Maryland that Pitt should be taking a hard look at are Stefon Colbert and Zach Bradshaw.
TE: Hubie Graham will graduate next season and since Chryst likes to use his tight ends, look for Pitt to grab at least one. Adam Breneman is a local big-time prospect that should be of interest.
OL: As is the case in most seasons, Pitt needs linemen. But with the history of Bob Bostad and Paul Chryst, the Panthers should have a significantly better chance to build some quality depth at this position. North Allegheny tackle Patrick Kugler is a big name, but look for Pitt to sign maybe as many as five or six in next year's class. Other tackles to watch are Kyle Meadows (West Chester, Ohio), Billy Price (same H.S. as the Davis twins), and Mike McGlinchy (Philadelphia)
At guard, Lovell Peterson out of Huber Heights, Ohio is a big name to watch. Pitt should also take a look at Alexander Officer out of Rochester, New York and Evan Seaman out of Washington, Pennsylvania.
Looking at center, Pitt can look in numerous places. The team desperately needs an actual center, not a converted guard or tackle.
DL: Pitt is losing a lot of bodies this year and really only signed Render and Jackson, so look for them to focus on this position, especially now that Pitt will likely move back to a 4-3 defense. Jake Butt out of Pickerington, Ohio is a name to start with at defensive end, as is teammate Taco Charlton. There are multiple prospects in New Jersey as well, but since Jeff Hafley left Pitt for Rutgers, Pitt's New Jersey pipelines seem to have dried up - the Panthers didn't have a single Jersey kid in this year's class. But this new staff needs to make the Garden State a priority in 2013 and beyond.
For defensive tackle, Henry Poggi out of Baltimore, Maryland is a name to watch. He was also a teammate of Devon Porchia, who just signed with Pitt.
LB: Pitt isn't in bad shape here with many young linebackers, including Juan Price, Todd Thomas, and LaQuentin Smith. But that doesn't mean Pitt should stop looking at recruits for this position. A name to watch is Mike McCray II, who was a teammate of recent Pitt signee Bam Bradley. Pitt could also try Micah Kiser, who is a teammate of the aforementioned Porchia.
DB: Pitt's secondary is pretty deep right now, so this might not be a huge area of concern next year. But with Andrew Taglianetti and Jarred Holley both graduating, Pitt could still stand to add a bit more here. Ross Douglas out of Avon, Ohio is a name to watch, with offers already from UConn, Syracuse, and Louisville. At safety, Zach Guiser has gotten some interest from the last coaching staff and he is local (Greensburg).
Special Teams: Pitt may use a scholarship on a kicker, as Kevin Harper graduates next year.
If I had to guess, here's what I would think the class looks like in a year, assuming Pitt uses 25 scholarships. I also threw in the number I think Pitt will target at each position.
QB: 1 (Target: 1-2)
RB: 1 (Target: 1-2)
FB: 1 (Target: 1)
WR: 4 (Target: 4-5)
TE: 2 (Target: 1-2)
OL: 6 (Target: 5-6)
DL: 4 (Target: 4-5)
LB: 3 (Target: 3-4)
DB: 3 (Target 3-4)
We'll know more about where Pitt stands by the end of the summer after the various camps are through and once Paul Chryst has a better idea of what he has.