With the news of Pitt hiring Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi as the program's next head coach, the focus shifts to not only the hiring of an athletics director, but also the team's recruiting class for 2015.
No one class is focused solely on one player, but Whitehead is surely the perceived jewel of the Panthers' small group of recruits.
The four-star athlete is Rivals' top recruit in all of Pennsylvania. The good news for Pitt? He's still (mostly) committed from the sound of things.
A few weeks ago when the Paul Chryst to Wisconsin news was developing, Whitehead said he was still committed to the Panthers, even with the head coach's impending departure. The Trib recently checked on him and found pretty much the same attitude ... sort of:
"My mom has talked to West Virginia, Ohio State and Penn State," Whitehead said. "Sometimes, they call me, but I'm busy and I just try to stay loyal to Pitt."
Still, he said he is committed to Pitt and "more likely than not" will sign with the Panthers on letter-of-intent day Feb. 4.
"I'd say 90 percent," he said.
"I feel comfortable with the players and atmosphere," he said. "I just want to meet the new coaches. (Chryst leaving) didn't change anything. Just waiting for the new coach so I can talk to him."
Whitehead said the situation has restarted the recruitment process for him.
"The new coach has to meet you, and you have to meet the coach," he said. "You have to kind of create that bond again."
Try to stay loyal to Pitt? 90%? Obviously, it's not the slam dunk it sounded like a few weeks ago and on the surface, it sounds a little iffy. Until Whitehead's fax comes in on National Signing Day, there are going to be some questions. But for the most part, it seems like he was just waiting to ensure that the hire wasn't Bozo the Clown. Like, I mean, really Bozo the Clown - or a basket of kittens, anyway. Whitehead coming to Pitt still sounds like it's pretty close to a done deal here.
Teams are built of more than one player, but Pitt needs Whitehead - and badly. The team's secondary struggled last year and despite the success Pitt had in recruiting offensive players under Chryst, there was no such success on the other side of the ball. When it comes down to it, Whitehead is slotted to play a position that arguably needs the most help on the worst of the two major units.
You've got to imagine that Narduzzi, as a defensive guy, especially, will be able to close the deal here. Pitt's new coach has a defensive reputation and that hopefully will help when it comes to selling himself on Whitehead - and make no mistake about it, that's exactly what Narduzzi needs to do (sell himself). You can bet that he'll be extremely interested in ensuring that Whitehead remains a Panther.
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