Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi and his coaching staff have been very busy lately. With that in mind, here's an update on what has been happening and where things may go with just over one week until the Letters of Intent are signed.
Obviously, last week was the one that got Pitt fans introduced to how Narduzzi and his staff will operate on the recruiting trails. The new regime will be much more aggressive in recruiting, and they will be more vocal about it, too. The new staff has been all over Twitter, using it as a recruiting tool. With that said, we saw Pitt land Jay Stockerr first, and he was an important get for Narduzzi as it marked the first guy to jump on board with the new staff. It also showed that Pitt was going to go after some of the prominent players Paul Chryst was pursuing.
Shawn Curtis became Narduzzi's second commitment a day later, and like Stocker, he was a target by the old staff as well. Curtis may not be a blue chip guy by the recruiting services, but he will add depth to the defensive side of the ball, and he hails from the fertile recruiting grounds of Miami, Florida. The defensive theme continued a day later, and it was Anthony McKee Jr. of Columbus, Ohio. McKee was an important target and a highly rated one also.
Those three commitments should be old news by now, and with the staff's second full weekend of official visits ending on Sunday. A whole new wave of news began from this past weekend, and I'll break down each bit of news right now.
-- Allen Edwards committed to Pitt early on during his official visit, and it was a matter of him essentially committing on the spot as he did not have an offer going into last weekend. Edwards is a junior college defensive end that is originally from Florida, but ended up playing football in Massachusetts the past two seasons. Despite him not being a highly sought after player, I think Edwards is a good value recruit. First of all, Pitt did not really have a true defensive end committed to date, and with Devin Cook and Luke Maclean moving on by way of transfer, and David Durham graduating - Pitt needed depth at the position.
-- Pitt lost out on Shareef Miller to in-state rivals, Penn State. It was not a total shock as Miller seemingly always liked the idea of playing for the Nittany Lions. Still, Pitt gave Penn State a good run for their money as Narduzzi and a few of his assistants visited the three-star prospect in Philadelphia and put the full court press on him. Obviously landing Miller would have been a big coup, it just did not seem likely for Pat Narduzzi to steal him away from James Franklin in such a short amount of time.
-- Pitt closed out the recruiting weekend on a good note, though. The Panthers received a pledge from three-star linebacker Saleem Brightwell of New Jersey. Brightwell has an impressive offer sheet, and was a big time get for Narduzzi and the Panthers. The linebacker from Jersey jumps off the screen of his film with his ability to find the ball and make plays. He looks to be a good player and helps add to the talent and depth of the defense.
-- Yesterday afternoon Pitt received a verbal commitment from local quarterback, Ben DiNucci. The Pine-Richland product is one of the more discussed players by Pitt fans recently. DiNucci is a unique situation as he de-committed from FCS Penn of the Ivy League, and normally that would not be a good move for a power five team. Considering the circumstances and the depth at quarterback for Pitt, Ben DiNucci was not a bad option this late in the game. He set the WPIAL record for passing yards in a season, was named the AAAA State Player of the Year, and led his team to a 15-1 record that resulted in a state championship appearance. I think Pitt did the best they could for the quarterback position with a week to go before signing day.
-- It was not all good news recently, as Nick Bowers de-committed from Pitt and chose Penn State. I think losing a good in-state prospect to Penn State hurts more perception wise than actually losing Bowers himself. While I certainly think Bowers is a good player, Pitt has five tight ends on the roster plus H-Back Jaymar Parrish set to return next season. Bowers was likely going to redshirt and would not have seriously gotten a chance to start until 2017 anyway. Pitt has a chance to bring in a tight end or two next season to help offset the loss. The Kittanning product actually was more familiar with the Penn State staff than the new Pitt staff, and he may have a chance to get on the field sooner in Happy Valley. In the end, it's hard to fault the young man for making the move.
So that is what has happened so far, but more seems to be happening every day the way this staff operates. Pitt has another weekend of official visits coming up, and I would expect to see more players visit that are somewhat unknowns, rather than the players we have heard about all year long. Pitt has 15 commitments to date, and I think they may have room to take close to five or six more guys, so the next week should be a busy one.