2014 National Signing Day / Pitt Football Recruiting: Panthers' defensive recruiting underwhelming

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Despite Pitt's modest success on the field lately, the Panthers have still been able to land some solid offensive talent. This year, that includes four-star wide receiver Adonis Jennings, four-star running back Chris James, and over the past three seasons, the Panthers have added numerous four- and five-star offensive linemen including Dorian Johnson, Adam Bisnowaty, Michael Grimm, and Alex Bookser.

Where the Panthers have underperformed, though, is on the defensive side of the ball.

Paul Chryst has found it much harder to land dynamic talent on defense and Pitt's lackluster showing on that unit this year probably didn't help things. Pitt often played conservative schemes and relied on All-World talent Aaron Donald to just blow up offensive lines and make plays.

The Panthers missed out on most of their major defensive targets, including local kid Dravon Henry, who committed to West Virginia instead. That one was a loss that really hurt and Chryst missed out on an opportunity to significantly upgrade the secondary.

For the record, Pitt does have some promising talent on defense. The linebacker corps should be pretty good next year with Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez back. After taking a step back last year, Lafayette Pitts returns for his junior year at one corner spot. Ejuan Price is an intriguing player that returns, too. But when it comes to young talent on defense, Pitt is lacking a bit there.

Avonte Maddox and Patrick Amara are two athletes coming in from the 2014 class that could contribute there and players such as Ray Vinopal, Jahmahl Pardner, Titus Howard, and Terrish Webb give the secondary some decent young talent. Bam Bradley, Mike Caprara, Matt Galambos, Shakir Soto, and Devin Cook will help anchor the front seven. But in terms of star power, the Panthers just don't have a lot of it on defense at first glance.

Chryst has made tremendous strides in upgrading the offensive talent the past few years. On the defensive side of the ball, though, the head coach just hasn't had quite as much success.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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