Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports
Four of Pitt's 2013 recruits - including prized QB Tra'von Chapman - have already enrolled in school and are on campus
Well, at least four Pitt football players had good days on Saturday. That's when four Pitt 2013 commits - quarterback Tra'von Chapman, tight end Scott Orndoff, defensive end Shakir Soto and defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett - moved into Oakland officially became Pitt students, according to Chris Peak of Pantherlair.
Having players on campus, in class and in the weight-room as early as possible is an obvious good thing, but having them not count against the numbers in Pitt's potentially large 2013 class is even better. Ken Gorman explains:
It will be interesting to watch how Pitt attempts to add as many recruits as possible to its Class of 2013.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst is believed to want to sign as many as 29 players in February, which, on the surface, would be four over the NCAA limit of 25 per class.
To count forward, start by counting backward.
Because [Pitt's early enrollees] are to start classes this week, the four will count against Pitt‘s 2012 recruiting class.
That means the Panthers reduced their Class of ‘13 commitments from 21 to 17, which would allow them to sign as many as eight more.
Tra'von Chapman is the biggest name in the group, in both recruiting stars and the inherent star of the position. The Trib did a fantastic piece on Chapman back in December and chronicled his intense drive:
"I just figured this is something I really wanted," he said. "This is something I really dedicated myself to. Why should I sit around and wait? I should go get it."
Chapman, who will be eligible for Pitt‘s spring drills, may have to watch and learn behind quarterbacks Tom Savage, Chad Voytik and Trey Anderson, but he does make one promise about his freshman season:
"No one is going to outwork me," he said. "I‘ll be patient, but I‘ll still grind hard. If I am third string or fourth string, I‘m still going to work the hardest."
Most days this summer, Chapman awoke before sunrise to start his morning workouts at Roosevelt, but he refused to drive to school.
"I thought that was cheating," he said.
Instead, he ran or rode his bicycle two miles. Then, after arriving, he went to work.
"We would run hills, we would run through the sand, do squats," he said. "It got to the point where two workouts a day weren‘t enough, and we started doing three sometimes. Every day, except Sunday, and even Saturday I would go to Kent State with my dad (Thad Jemison, that school‘s wide receivers coach) and work out."
"He is fanatical," Roosevelt coach John Nemec said.
Soto, a 3-star 6'4" 250 lbs defensive end, got some nice ink in his local paper when he signed his binding letter of intent to the University of Pittsburgh:
"He’ll be the first to tell you, elementary-wise, he was a rough kid," GAR coach Paul Wiedlich Jr. said. "We got him in the seventh grade, he was a wiry, tall, lanky kid."
But Soto turned himself into a shining example of what diligence in the classroom can lead to.
Which is why he chose to hold his collegiate signing day at Heights-Murray Elementary School.
"I wanted to be an inspiration to the younger kids," said Soto, who was named to the All-Pennsylvania Class 2A team earlier this week, "to follow my path. Not necessarily by playing football, but working hard to get what you want. Football wasn’t really on my mind when I was here. I had other distractions.
"Really, the people here are the reason why I’m where I’m at today."
It's always great to have high character guys in the locker-room, but from just a football perspective, Soto is putting himself in a great spot to earn playing time on a very thin defensive line. He'll certainly have a jump on Pitt's other defensive end commits, James Connor and Luke Maclean. And with the move of T.J. Clemmings to offense, Pitt's defensive end situation is wide open for young guys to make a contribution.
Scott Orndoff is another guy who should benefit from getting to campus early. J.P. Holtz will be back and so will hybrid Drew Carswell, but that's it at a position of emphasis for Chryst's offense. Having Orndoff on campus early - and counting against the 2012 class instead of 2013 - should provide a bit of separation between him the 2013 tight ends Devon Edwards and Tony Harper.