With signing day now behind us, it's time to make a few predictions on the 2014 Pitt football recruiting class. Let's get started with some of my thoughts on some of the newest Panthers:
THE STARS - This year's class studs appear to be local offensive linemen Alex Bookser and Mike Grimm - both four-star talents. Rising four-star running back Chris James, and wide receiver Adonis Jennings. Going with one player, I would select Jennings. I just love the kid's highlight videos and his 6'3" frame and 4.48 speed don't hurt too much, either. He seems to use his hands really well to get separation and could give Pitt the star they need opposite Tyler Boyd.
PLAYERS WITH THE BEST CHANCE TO PLAY EARLY - We can stick with James and Jennings on this one, too, but don't count out Avonte Maddox and Patrick Amara in the defensive backfield either since Pitt loses K'Waun Williams and Jason Hendricks back there. As for Bookser and Grimm, I think you will see the offensive line depth force them into a redshirt year, which is a great thing since the offensive line is really a tough place for a true freshman to come in and play early anyway.
SLEEPER PICKS - Wide receiver Elijah Zeise and Avonte Maddox. As I mentioned, Maddox could come in and compete for time right away, but he's still an underrated recruit right now. I just like his athleticism a lot and think he can bring something to the return game as well over the next four years. Zeise has always struck me as one of those kids who seems to have the physical gifts and is a smart player, too. It baffles me sometimes when someone performs on the field but doesn't get the big offers and I see Zeise in that way. Aaron Donald was that way - he always played well in games but never got the big offers because of one thing or another, including his size. I think Pitt fans are going to end up liking these two players a whole lot.
WORTH THE WAIT PLAYERS - Defensive line recruits Rori Blair and Mike Herndon are the selections here. Most know Blair's story with health issues and it's an amazing tale. He will need to redshirt but if he can put the unfortunate stroke of a couple of years ago completely behind him, he could end up being a good one down the road for Pitt. Herndon is someone who is really intriguing. Players that are 6'4" and 323 pounds in high school and playing middle linebacker of all positions tend to stick out. I think he'll redshirt, but after that and a year in the weight room, Herndon could end up being an explosive interior defensive lineman.
FAN FAVORITE - I'd go with Blair, Maddox, and Grimm here. Blair definitely has the emotional story that fans will love if he can reach his potential. Maddox has that ability to make the fans come to their feet quickly and due to his size (or lack thereof, as he is only 5'9"), Panther fans will take to him well when he gets on the field. Grimm is already just a mass of humanity and if he comes close to reaching what Pitt thinks he can be, fans will love watching him dismantle defensive lineman for a few years.
- Pitt Football Recruiting: Quarterback Wade Freebeck flips from Pitt to Vanderbilt
- Pitt Football Recruiting: Ranking the Panthers' 2014 incoming recruits from No. 23 to No. 1
- 2014 National Signing Day: Pitt's 2013 recruits proved this year's signing class can contribute
- Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon is ... home
- Pitt Football Recruiting and National Signing Day Coverage: All Recruitin' All The Time