Clairton cornerback Lamont Wade made the choice last night to sign with Penn State and immediately a segment of fans started questioning and complaining about Pitt’s lack of success recruiting in Western Pennsylvania and of attracting big players.
Is that accurate or is it just a tired narrative?
Before I show you some data, I think it’s important to point out that Pat Narduzzi and this staff are trying to expand Pitt’s recruiting base. The staff spends a lot of time and will always recruit the state of Pennsylvania hard but they’re also spending a ton of time in states like Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland and especially Florida. Unlike some other coaching staffs, Narduzzi is trying to recruit nationally for the program and not just locally.
Pitt’s recruiting classes shouldn’t be judged a success or failure based on whether they land the top rated players in Pennsylvania. For example, Pitt lost out to Notre Dame on North Allegheny 4-star OT Josh Lugg but just got a commitment from Florida 4-star OT Jerry Drake, who has an offer list from schools like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Tennessee and UCLA. Is Lugg really a loss?
Last year, Pitt recruited running back Miles Sanders hard, but he eventually signed with Penn State. Did it turn out to be a big loss? Time will tell but after one year I’d say the answer is No.
This year, freshman Chawntez Moss showed a ton of promise and actually had a better season than Sanders. Pitt also has a commitment this year from Ohio 4-star back Todd Sibley and are in the running for Florida 4-star back A.J. Davis. I’m not worried about the future depth of running back for Pitt.
Let’s take a look back at the last few years and see how the Pitt program has fared recruiting in Pennsylvania.
Class of 2016: According to the rankings of Rivals, Pitt got commitments from 6 of the Top 20 players in Pa. Last year they landed Damar Hamlin (#4), Kaezon Pugh (#7), Therran Coleman (#11), Aaron Mathews (#14), Rashad Wheeler (#18) and Brandon Ford (#19). Also, keep in mind, in Coach Narduzzi’s first full year of recruiting, they also landed commitments from 4-star players Chase Pine, Ruben Flowers, George Hill and Amir Watts.
Class of 2015: Pitt only got a few players in the Top 20 (Jay Stocker and Alex Paulina) but got the big one and the top rated player, Central Valley’s Jordan Whitehead.
Class of 2014: Pitt landed 2 of the top rated offensive lineman, Mike Grimm and Alex Bookser, who had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State and USC. Bookser was a huge get and someone that’s been a key member of Pitt’s offensive line.
Class of 2013: When I mentioned earlier that we’ll have to wait and see how things play out, a perfect example of that is Pitt’s Class of 2013. They were able to land two of the state’s top players but also added other recruits who’ve turned out to be solid, solid players for Pitt who have futures in the NFL.
How’s this class look now? Dorian Johnson, Tyler Boyd, Scott Orndoff, James Conner and Matt Galambos. At the time, no one was raving about that class but four years later it looks really good.
Hopefully, I was able to get the point across that when you judge Pitt’s recruiting efforts, look at the big picture. Pitt, just like every other school, isn’t going to get every single top prospect in their state. That’s just a fact. The real key is to make sure you get a few of them and every couple years land one of the top prospects. It’s also key to land a few other 4-star players from other states and in his first two years at Pitt Narduzzi and his staff have been able to do that.
After getting commitments from players like Hamlin, Paris Ford, Pugh, Mathews, Sibley, Flowers, Watts, Keyshon Camp and Pine, Pitt fans should have no worries about the state of Pitt recruiting.
One thing I’m certain of is that Narduzzi and his staff know how to recruit and will always bring talented players into Pitt.