Pitt's 2017 football recruiting class is in the books (or close to it, I suppose). And while Pat Narduzzi and company didn't land a slew of four-star and five-star commits to vault the program into a top 10 or 20 class, the program is slowly starting to weed out the number of offers they are doling out to lower-level guys.
There is, of course, value in two-star players. Rori Blair, for instance, was one of the team's top defensive ends and was a starter this season with Dewayne Hendrix out. Devin Street came in as a two-star recruit and left as the school's statistical receiving leader. And that's not even to mention that the recruiting site rankings are not an exact science. But as a general rule, you always want to avoid a class with too many of those types of players because, by and large, they are absolute gambles. Taking four, five, and six of them in a class can absolutely hurt. Doing it year after year means that you could have 20-25% of your roster eaten up by them, which is far too many.
Pitt has had its fair share of two-star players come through the doors and has typically relied on several to help fill out rosters. But the good news is that, lately, they are taking fewer of them. Here's a look at the number of Rivals two-star players going back ten years in each recruiting class (leaving kickers out of the discussion):
2008 - 4
2009 - 5
2010 - 1
2011 - 9
2012 - 2
2013 - 7
2014 - 4
2015 - 5
2016 - 3
2017 - 1
It should also be noted that the class of 2012 included only 16 players. That made the two they took less impressive.
Another thing to note is that coaches can sometimes take two-star players that become three-star players by the time they sign. I didn't account for that but since I didn't count it in any season, it should be less of a factor overall.
The bottom line here is that Narduzzi has really started weeding out taking the lower-level guys. It's not that Pitt won't ever take any. Coaches will always see what they perceive as a diamond in the rough and even programs bigger than Pitt take some. But the recent trend suggests that they are trying to get away from that a bit more and bringing in better players. Narduzzi did take in five of them in 2015 but that was because he had little time to put the class together as he was hired shortly before National Signing Day.
As you'll notice, the four two-star players he has taken in the two years since then are the fewest the school has had in any two years in the ten-year span mentioned above.
There's little doubt that Pitt eventually needs to land a few more four- and five-star players to get their classes into the Top 20. To get to the upper echelon of college football, you have to recruit lights out and get the best of the best. But one thing that shouldn't be forgotten is that Pitt is at least moving in the right direction by taking fewer less heralded players. Three-star players are much less of a gamble and the more of those you can get over two-star guys can be a significant factor in winning more games.