Pitt has had some big recruiting misses lately, so getting Alex Bookser was a big deal. According to Rivals, the Panthers landed him despite the fact that he held offers from several big time schools, including Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia, USC, Nebraska, and others.
I wrote an article the other day that I think got a little misconstrued. The gist wasn't to say that Chryst is doing a great job recruiting. Rather, the Pitt head coach is doing reasonably well given the circumstances. This all comes back to Chryst, but the fact is that the Panthers are an average program right now. They've been 6-6 for three straight years now and while it's early, it's to expect them to do much more that that next season when they lose Aaron Donald, Tyler Boyd, Tom Savage, K'Waun Williams, and others.
Pitt is about as average as it gets right now and while Bookser is in the Panthers' backyard, landing him shouldn't ever have been considered a given. The fact that Pitt was able to land him shouldn't be entirely expected with the program in its current state. Let's be honest - Pitt isn't on par with the top programs in college football and to expect the Chryst to pick up every big time athlete within a stone's throw when they hold offers to big time schools isn't realistic. If Pitt was churning out even 8- or 9-win seasons right now, it'd be easier to expect more. But for a 6-6 program, it's pretty hard to complain right now.
Be honest - why would you come to Pitt right now over top ten programs unless you really just want to stay at home and grew up idolizing the team? I love Pitt more than just about anybody, but I'm being realistic, too. There are just a lot of reasons to not come here right now and Pitt isn't doing themselves any favors on the field when they get blown out at home to Florida State, lose to Navy, and lose to Youngstown State the year before. The fact that Pitt is still occasionally landing top talent shouldn't be taken for granted.
Okay, a little more on Bookser now.
He made official visits to Ohio State, Penn State, and Tennessee. Again, pretty big time programs. He virtually had his pick of schools when you look at his full offer sheet that's been reported.
And, oh yeah, in case you forgot, Bookser once played an April Fools Day joke on Pitt. No, really - he did.
One thing that really stuck out about him is that he seemed to love the idea of playing close to home. That was likely a big reason he ended up committing to the Panthers.
Coaches almost always think highly of their star players' ability. That said, Bookser's high school coach really thinks the kid can play. I mean, really:
Mt. Lebanon coach Mike Melynk, who confirmed the news, said Bookser is the best offensive linemen he has coached in 26 years.
“No question,” he said. “Alex was a tremendous player for us the past two years. He was a game-changer. Anybody who started game-planning for us had to figure out what they were going to do with him. He played 48 minutes on both sides of the ball (including defensive tackle).”