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Pitt Football Recruiting: Top 2017 Pennsylvania Targets

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Today is Pitt's "Junior Day" here is a look at some of top targets for next year.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday was Pitt's "Junior Day". It unofficially marked the start of the next recruiting cycle - at least from the fan's perspective. Obviously coaches across the country have been recruiting these prospects for next year well before today. If you attended the basketball game or watched on TV, you probably saw some of these players sitting among the Oakland Zoo.

Pitt's recruiting efforts have been on the up and up of late. Pat Narduzzi brought in Pitt's highest rated recruiting class in years this past week. He has invigorated the Pitt fan base with social media and interactive techniques, a welcomed change from the last regime.  With that new found optimism and momentum among the program, there is hope to bring in an even better class next season. Obviously, the heart to any Pitt recruiting class are kids from within the state of Pennsylvania.  Here is a look at some of the biggest recruits to headline the class of 2017.

Committed

  • Paris Ford 6'1" 180 Safety Pittsburgh, PA
Paris Ford committed to Pitt back in October, and appears to be the anchor of the 2017 class. Ford is a four-star that is among the nation's top 50 recruits, and he puts Pitt off to an excellent start for next recruiting cycle. The Steel Valley star could play either safety or wide receiver in college, but after watching his junior year highlights - he looks like he could be a devastating safety at the next level. Ford already holds 21 offers, with some notable ones being Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and OKlahoma.

  • Exree Loe 6'0" 175 Cornerback Johnstown, PA
Exree Loe was the first commitment of the 2017 class, and he's a good one. Loe is ranked as the 12th best player in the state as a three-star prospect. Loe continues the trend of tall and athletic defensive backs over 6'0" that Narduzzi has been bringing into the program. He is an athletic playmaker that helped guide his team to a district championship this season.  Loe along with Ford gives Pitt a very dynamic start to the 2017 class.


Uncommitted

  • Lamont Wade 5'9" 180 Cornerback Clairton, PA
Pat Narduzzi has been through two signing days at Pitt, and both times he landed the best defensive back from the state with Jordan Whitehead and Damar Hamlin.  He will look to continue that trend with Lamont Wade, although this will be quite the battle to land his services. Clairton has been very kind to Pitt recently, and Pitt fans are hoping that pipeline continues.  Wade is a five-star player that is ranked fifth in the nation overall.  Yes, he is ranked as the fifth best high school junior IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY according to Rivals.com.  He is a big time player, and that may be stated lightly.

  • David Adams 6'2" 225 Middle Linebacker Pittsburgh, PA
David Adams is a college ready middle linebacker that Pitt could really use.  Adams grades out as a four-star player that holds over 20 offers to date.  He plays for Pittsburgh Central Catholic, a school Pitt really found success on the recruiting trail this past season by landing the likes of Damar Hamlin, Bricen Garner, and Rashad Wheeler. Narduzzi and linebackers coach Rob Harley are probably all over this situation already.

  • D'Andre Swift 5'10" 208 Running Back Philadelphia, PA
D'Andre Swift is arguably the best high school running back in the country. He has offers from everywhere, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma -  you name it. Is Pitt really in this recruitment?  Hard to say at this point, but it appears to be a long-shot from an outsider's point of view. I think Pitt needs to find a game-breaker at running back in the class of 2017, so at the very least Pitt will try to give it a serious run at Swift.

  • Donovan Jeter 6'5" 280 Defensive Tackle  Beaver Falls, PA
Donovan Jeter is an imposing and athletic defensive linemen from Beaver County.  Jeter is the younger brother of Pitt basketball star, Sheldon Jeter.  There is obviously a pipeline within the family, and of course from his hometown. Pitt has always done well in Beaver county, and again it's another local connection Pitt plans to keep in-tact.  Jeter has spoken highly of Pitt the past few months, and the staff has obviously made him a priority. Pitt should be in this recruitment until he is ready to make a decision.

  • CJ Thorpe 6'4" 310 Offensive Guard  Pittsburgh, PA
Thorpe is another heralded four-star player from Pittsburgh Central Catholic. Seems like that school is just churning them out yearly.  Thorpe is a player that could either project on the offensive line, or could see some time on the defensive line as well. Pitt will likely have to beat out Penn State and Michigan for this prospect. He holds over 20 offers, but you have to imagine Pitt will factor prominently into his recruitment.

  • Mark Webb 6'2" 190 Wide Receiver Philadelphia, PA
Mark Webb is a four-star receiver that plays for Philadelphia powerhouse, Archbishop Wood.  He holds offers from Pitt, Penn State, Rutgers, West Virginia, and North Carolina among others.  The current Pitt staff has not been able to land a true star player from Philadelphia, but perhaps that is something they can make happen in year three. Webb is a very speedy player, and could be the game breaking receiver Pitt needs in their pursuit of finding a replacement for Tyler Boyd.

  • Joshua Lugg 6'7" 280 Offensive Linemen Wexford, PA
Lugg is an imposing four-star linemen from North Allegheny High School in the Pittsburgh area. The catch here is that he committed to Notre Dame before his junior season, so for Pitt to land him it would mean convincing him to de-commit from the Irish.  Hard to say where things stand at this point, but nearly 18 months is a long time to keep a commitment in this day and age. We will see if Pitt can make their way back into the mix.

  • Carter Lynch 6'5" 315 Offensive Linemen  Philadelphia, PA
Another four-star player from the Philly area. Lynch plays on the offensive line for Saint Joe's Prep paving the way for D'Andre Swift. Currently, he does not have an offer, but there are obviously some to come in the near future.  He is an imposing player up front, and would be an ideal fit in this recruiting class.  Pitt needs to hit offensive line pretty hard this year, and Lynch is a candidate for sure.

  • Kenny Robinson 6'3"  205 Outside Linebacker Pittsburgh, PA
Kenny Robinson is the top prospect in the Pittsburgh City League in 2017. Pitt stands in fairly good position for the athletic junior.  Robinson plays receiver for his high school team, but projects as a linebacker at the next level. He is rated as a three-star and holds offers from Pitt, West Virginia, Louisville, and Iowa State, along with a few others.  Pitt has been looking to keep local talent at home and add speed to their defense.  Keep an eye on this recruitment.

  • Kurt Hinish 6'3" 270 Defensive Tackle Pittsburgh, PA
Kurt Hinish is another division one prospect from Central Catholic.  He was recently offered by Pitt.  Actually, Hinish just pulled in a number of offers lately from the likes of Baylor, Louisville, and Vanderbilt. He is now up to 11 offers total.  Pitt has obviously done well in his school, and Narduzzi will try to land a trio of Central kids again in 2017 just like he was able to in 2016.

  • Damion Barber 6'3" 220 Defensive End  Harrisburg, PA
Barber is a good looking defensive end prospect from Harrisburg. Pitt has failed to land an impact player from the middle of the state in quite some time.  The Panthers really stocked the defensive line in the 2017 class, we'll find out more about how they approach this class in the coming months.  RIght now, Barber holds offers from Pitt, Penn State, Temple, Rutgers, Iowa State, and Virginia Tech.  Without any real inside knowledge of the situation, i would imagine Penn State is the team to beat here.

  • Darian Street 6'2" 170 Wide Receiver Bethlehem, PA
This name should sound awfully familiar.  Darian is the younger brother of former Pitt star, Devin Street.  He hails from the same high school, and Pitt would love to get him into the fold. Street's first and only offer to date is from Pitt.  Pat Narduzzi landed a legacy this past year with Zack Gilbert, and that looks to be a point of emphasis for this staff is to build strong legacy relationships.

  • Gabe Houy 6'6" 270 Offensive Linemen Pittsburgh, PA
Gabe Houy is a huge offensive lienmen from Upper St. Clair High School. He holds offers from Pitt and Toledo at the moment. His high school teammate, Brandon Ford, just signed his letter of intent with Pitt days ago. The Panthers should be in good standing to keep this local linemen home.

  • Ryan Solt 6'3" 290 Offensive Linemen Wilkes Barre, PA
Ryan Solt is a three-star linemen from the Eastern half of the state. His only listed offer is with Maryland right now.  Pitt and Penn State are both showing interest, and it'll be interesting to see if Pitt offers sometime in the offseason.  Narduzzi recently offered a bunch of offensive linemen over the course of the past month, so he's still in his evaluate and offer mode.

  • Griffin Sestili 6'3" 230 Tight End  Wexford, PA
This North Allegheny tight end has one offer, and that is from the University of Virginia.  Pitt failed to bring in a tight end recruit last year, so it looks like they could bring in multiple in this upcoming class. Sestili is a local product and will be one to watch.

  • Ricky Squires 6'1" 195 Wide Receiver Pittsburgh, PA
Rick Squires is a local athlete from Penn Hills High School, the same school that produced Aaron Donald.  He holds offers from Iowa State and Akron right now, but is someone Pitt could offer in the near future. He checks in as the 18th best prospect in the state by Rivals.

  • Ryan Lezzer 5'11" 190 Athlete Clearfield, PA
Ryan Lezzer is an athletic playmaker from Clearfield, in the central part of the state.  He does not hold any offers, but checks in as the 20th best player in the state by Rivals, and Pitt has definitely expressed interest.  He could either play defensive back or slot receiver at the next level.

  • Collin Smith 6'0" 190 Safety  Ligonier, PA
Collin Smith is a two-star on Rivals that is the 17th ranked junior in the state.  He holds one offer, and it is a very impressive one - Michigan.  Yes, the University of Michigan.  Obviously Smith is a talented player to attract attention from Jim Harbaugh. Pitt will definitely keep Smith in mind during the recruiting process.

  • Dewayne Murray  5'8" 175 Running Back  Munhall, PA
Dewayne Murray is a high school teammate of Paris Ford at Steel Valley High School. He is not highly rated, but has definitely a lot of programs interested. Perhaps his 5'8" listed height is holding back offers, but West Virginia, Buffalo, Toledo, and Old Dominion have pulled the trigger. I think he is one of the more underrated players in the WPIAL at the moment.   We'll see if Pitt offers.

  • Noah Hamlin  5'11" 160 Athlete Clairton, PA
Hey look, another division one player from Clairton.  It's amazing they keep turning out this kind of talent at the size of school they have.  Hamlin has a pair of MAC offers at this point. Pitt will always keep a Clairton player in their mind, and monitor his offseason closely to see if more offers come flowing in the next few months.


OK, that's all I have today.  A few things you will notice, yeah I have players from both ends of the state, but it is a little geared towards Western PA with some of the lower ranked guys.  Chances are Pitt will track sleepers from the WPIAL from other parts of the state, and generally there is better football in Western Pennsylvania anyway.  Obviously there are some more players out there, and Pitt won't be recruiting all of these guys. This is just a list to give people an idea of what is out there as the 2017 recruiting cycle is under way.