Pitt wrestling has one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation. Unfortunately, the Panthers have had a difficult time keeping high school kids in the area.
The Panthers have had some recent successes in landing transfers Kellan Stout (Penn State) and, this past weekend, Micky Phillippi (Virginia). That's important from a local standpoint in that both were guys that were from the western Pennsylvania area that left for other programs initially.
New assistant coach Jordan Leen, who recently came here from Virginia, wants to get Pitt back to landing local prospects. In a recent FloWrestling interview, he says he thinks the program can do most of its damage by simply recruiting around here.
"At UVA, we recruited nationwide and, in particular, one of those cities that I heavily recruited was Pittsburgh. So, now our recruiting is a little bit more simple, a little bit more manageable. We recruit regionally because we don't really have to go too far out of our region to find great wrestlers."
"We just got back from a week of home visits and the furthest we drove for a home visit was 4 1/2 hours. So the majority of our home visits were within an hour or two hours. It's really nice to be able to try to keep the great local talent home."
Leen also talked a bit about attracting local talent, including adding transfers that possibly wanted to return back home, which speaks to both Stout and Phillippi. In addition, Leen says that others looking to transfer have reached out to the program as well.
An important part of what Leen discussed regarding those two transfers is that there's the hope they help lead to a domino effect for landing other local recruits. He mentioned the difficult of trying to get the local guys because no one wants to be the first one to come to what might be an unsure situation. The hope is that landing Stout and Phillippi not only strengthens the roster but also makes the program more desirable to potential high school recruits.
I know many fans weren't extremely high on the Keith Gavin hire. He still has a lot of work to do along with his staff, that's for sure. But I am more sold on this group of coaches than I was previously and I think you can even argue they have some solid momentum on their side with the recent transfer additions.