Paul Chryst is already working on the 2014 recruiting class. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Paul Chryst was understandably late to the party in the recruitment of the class of 2013. Even if you put the time lost coaching the Rose Bowl aside, Chryst was just introducing himself with a number of prospects at a time when other coaches were already building upon their relationships.
Pitt should be in better shape with a number of WPIAL players in the 2014 class, including one who has already committed to Pitt.
Before he texted and ran, Todd Graham accepted the commitment of big-time local QB Chandler Kincade. The rising high school junior already has varsity level experience at Blackhawk High School and grew up a big PItt fan. With the coaching turnover, Kincade is understandably looking around a bit:
Last November, Kincade committed to Pittsburgh, and, ironically, Kincade's parents called him "Chan Marino" growing up in homage to Pittsburgh icon and legendary Panthers quarterback Dan Marino. But with Graham's departure from Pitt to Arizona State, Kincade decided to reopen his commitment.
When Graham left in December, Kincade did not find out about it until he got a text alert on his cell phone. Despite the firestorm surrounding Graham's departure, Kincade holds no grudge against the former Pitt coach or the program and is still heavily considering Pittsburgh.
Kincade is still getting to know the new staff and talks with Panthers quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger about once a week.
"I want to see how the season goes and stuff. I really rushed into things with the last staff, so now I'm taking it a lot slower," Kincade said, "and before anything else happens I just want make sure I'm comfortable with everything and they're still comfortable with me."
The recruiting sites are still listing Kincade as a commitment, for what it's worth.
Another Beaver County product for 2014 is defensive lineman Brock Boxen, who got an offer earlier this month at Pitt's prospect camp:
“On the last day of camp, some of the coaches pulled me aside and one of them offered me a scholarship,” he said. “At first, I didn’t know what to say. I was at a loss for words. But obviously, I’m very excited.”
Boxen, who’s 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, isn’t in any hurry to make a decision. He’s bound to get more offers including one as early as this week from Maryland.
“Sure, I’d like to go to Pitt, but for now, I’d like to keep my options open,” Boxen said.
An understandable position since he still has two full seasons of high school left to play. Pitt is Boxen's first offer.
With a staff known for exceptional offensive lines, Pitt should theoretically have a leg up on recruiting the big bodies. Linemen should be a priority in 2014 and Pitt has already started by offering a gigantic Bethel Park lineman:
At 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, [Mike Grimm Jr.] promises to be the most coveted WPIAL offensive lineman in the Class of 2014.
“I feel like there’s going to be a lot of pressure,” he said, “that I have a lot to live up to, this expectation of being an animal all the time.”
“My feet weren’t great, but I’ve always been a big, strong kid. I work on it a lot, every day, all the time,” Grimm said. “I basically want to dominate the WPIAL and our conference and become an all-around better player.”
Grimm started as a sophomore but found that upperclassmen avoided bull-rushing him. Instead, they used head-fakes and quick moves to get past him.
“Even just from watching film, comparing my games from beginning of season to end, there was a big change in my pass blocking and run blocking,” Grimm said. “It was a big difference, playing against kids that weren’t as big as me but just as strong and getting (Division I) looks.”
I wouldn't worry too much about his footwork right now - he has two years of high school to improve it and he seems to be taking corrective measures after being able just flatten kids as a freshman. He was also at Pitt's prospect camp and reportedly impressed the coaches. If Grimm keeps up the work (and his weight down), he certainly has the size and strength to be a a major recruit in Pennsylvania. If his lines at Wisconsin are any indication, Chryst loves size and Grimm certainly has it.
And of course, what Pitt recruiting class would be complete without a Quip? Meet the newest Aliquippa FBS product, Dravon Henry:
“Most likely, I want to go to college to play safety,” Henry said. “I’m going to keep contributing on offense in high school, do the best I can do to win a state championship. You see guys like Darrelle Revis and Ty Law who went to college as a DB. I want to do that, too.”
Henry already has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Kent State, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers and West Virginia. He has Division-I lineage, counting Arno “Chad” Askew as an uncle and Revis, Charles Fisher and Dionte Henry among his first cousins.
“They teach me little things: backpedaling, getting out of breaks faster, how to attack the ball in the air better,” Henry said. “One day, I’m hoping to follow in their footsteps.”
For what it's worth, he does have a Pitt offer according to Rivals. Pitt not offering Darrelle Revis's cousin would be pretty shocking, so I'm going to assume that was an oversight either in the article or by the source of information.
Maybe the best for last. Gateway's Montae Nicholson seems to be on pace to be the top player in the WPIAL in 2014, if not the entire state:
If this month is any indication, Nicholson will be the next five-star recruit to come out of Gateway.
“There’s no question,” Gateway coach Terry Smith said. “Height, weight, speed, athleticism, ball skills, body control, intelligence — he’s got the full package.”
A 6-foot-2, 195-pound free safety who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, Nicholson has so impressed coaches at camps that he has received scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Toledo, Pitt, Penn State and, on Tuesday, Michigan.
With two of the best prospects in the WPIAL being projected as safeties, a great year from Jarred Holley sure would be helpful. Nicholson is obviously going to be a street fight to woo to Oakland and Gateway hasn't exactly been the pipeline to Pitt that it could, but I'd still rather have an elite talent like Nicholson in Pitt's backyard than somewhere else.