I’m not going to try and sugar coat it, missing out on Kwantel Raines tonight is a punch to the gut for Pitt.
Of all the recruiting losses the Panthers have had over the last handful of years this one hurts the most.
Raines was a priority for Pitt since his sophomore season at Aliquippa. The 4-star talent visited Pitt practices and games more than any other recruit.
It’s a blow to Pitt because they legitimately thought they had everything in their favor and were going to land him.
Unfortunately for Pitt fans this type of news has become too familiar for them when it comes to top local targets.
In the last couple of recruiting seasons, Pitt hasn’t been able to land players such as Lamont Wade, Miles Sanders, David Adams, Phil Jurkovec and Donovan Jeter. However, in Pitt’s defense, even the best job of recruiting wasn’t going to land most of those players.
In the case of Jurkovec and Adams, they were going to South Bend as soon as they landed offers from Notre Dame. As far as Sanders goes, the story was he wanted to sign with Pitt but his family wanted him to attend Penn State.
Last year with Wade and Jeter, in the end, Wade felt more comfortable with Penn State coaches and the program. James Franklin and Terry Smith did a great job of recruiting the talented cornerback.
Donovan Jeter, that’s the only one I still am surprised at and have no idea what happened. I thought for sure he was going to commit to Narduzzi but for whatever reason, that didn’t happen.
While the Pitt staff was probably surprised by what Jeter did, tonight they’re probably a bit deflated. How could they not be?
Raines has been one of the top players on their recruiting board for two years and all the effort they put into recruiting him was for not.
The Pitt fan base is also going to be disappointed and will likely criticize the Pitt staff for not being able to keep a big-time backyard talent home but that would be foolish to do. Narduzzi and his assistants did everything they could to try and get Raines to stay home.
Unfortunately for Pitt, he decided that West Virginia was a better situation and fit for him. All the best to Raines and hoping he has a successful career in Morgantown.
There’s speculation that Raines wanted to play safety but Pitt viewed him as a linebacker in college and that played a role in his decision.
If that’s the case, I credit Pitt for being honest with the player and not lying to him in order to land him. Some programs will tell a recruit anything they want to hear in order to get a commitment but that’s not Narduzzi’s style.
So now what? Is Pitt going to be gun shy about going after the top WPIAL talent?
Of course not. The entire Panther staff were back at it today going after the top seniors, juniors and sophomores from Western Pennsylvania. Are they going to be successful all the time? Absolutely not, no college team is.
While Pitt wasn’t able to land Raines, don’t forget that they were able to convince WPIAL talent like Devin Danielson, Jake Kradel, Blake Zubovic and Noah Palmer to stay home. Sometimes that gets overlooked and forgotten.