It’s a dreary day in Western Pennsylvania which probably describes the mood today of the Pitt fanbase when it comes to this year’s recruiting class.
Whether or not that feeling is justified is something that we won’t be able to accurately comment on for at least a couple of years. However, certain frustrations that the Pitt fans feel today come with some merit.
First and for most, why has Pat Narduzzi struggled to recruit Power Five talented players in the WPIAL?
That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. The only opinion is why is that the case?
As a Die-Hard member commented on in our Forum, a disconnect seems to exist between some local players and Pitt. It’s unrealistic to think that Pitt is going to get most highly rated WPIAL kids but the fact that they keep striking out has to be concerning.
Pitt can spin it anyway they want but the reality is that MJ Devonshire choose to pass on Narduzzi and Pitt to go someplace that’s only been recruiting him for a few weeks. That’s reality and it should concern Pitt.
The question they have to ask is why?
I get that Pitt, no matter who the coach is, never had a chance with someone like Phil Jurkovec. However, missing on guys like Donovan Jeter, Kwantel Raines, Lamont Wade, Andrew Kristofic and now Devonshire isn’t good. Jeter and Raines practically lived at the Pitt complex with the coaches but in the end said no thanks. Why?
Some may disagree with this but I firmly believe that if a certain guy from Baldwin was still the head coach of Pitt, they wouldn’t have missed on ALL of these players. He wouldn’t have signed all of them, but he wouldn’t have been shutout.
Is the answer changing recruiting territories of some of the assistants? I don’t know but what I do know is that what’s currently being done isn’t working. The biggest WPIAL recruit for 2020 is likely to be Mars offensive tackle Michael Carmody and early word is that Pitt has little chance of landing him.
Makes you wonder if that’s a small reason why Pitt has placed a heavy emphasis on recruiting other states a lot more than Pennsylvania. While it’s probably not a big factor, I wouldn’t blame Narduzzi if it’s something that he considers when determining how hard to recruit a player from Western Pennsylvania. If they feel like the odds are very small at having a chance, why should they waste a lot of valuable recruiting time.
As of today, Pitt has offered 3 local players in the Class of 2020 (Carmody, Jack Salopek and Dayon Hayes). A number of other players are receiving Division I interest, will Pitt choose to get involved? It’s worth keeping an eye on.
A couple of other observations and questions that I have from this year’s recruiting class.
1) What happened with Kaleb Boateng and Christian Mahogany?
I find it very strange how those recruiting situations played out. Pitt was in great position to land both those players and for whatever the reason, pulled the scholarship on both and instead signed two players that were rated lower and then took a graduate transfer lineman. Mahogany ended up signing with Boston College and Boateng with Clemson. It’s a head scratcher that Boateng is good enough for the national champions but not for Pitt? Hey, Pitt knows the type of players they’re trying to recruit and as I mentioned earlier, we’ll find out in an couple of years and see how things play out.
2) Why no interest in Penn Hills Daequan Hardy?
He plays the same position as Devonshire and also is someone that can be used on the offensive side of the ball, like they were planning to do with Devonshire. Why not offer both of them? I’d think they would have had a good chance of getting Hardy if they offered right after his record-breaking performance in the state championship game. Whatever possible issues that may be existed, didn’t stop Penn State from offering and eventually signing him. If he turns out to be a play-maker, Pitt is going to kick themselves for passing on the opportunity.
3) Too Many “Diamonds In The Rough” and Projects?
The biggest reason for the lack of excitement for Pitt’s recruiting class this year is that it’s filled with a lot of players that are looked at as diamonds in the rough and players without a lot of interest from other Power Five programs. People always like to point to Aaron Donald as someone that was underrecruited and turned into gold. The reality is that examples like him are very rare. By my count, 11 of Pitt’s 19 signees would fall in this category which is the reason for their recruiting class being ranked in the 50’s (worst of Narduzzi’s era). Once again, we’ll find out in a few years if their eye for talent was on the mark.
In the end, Narduzzi are his assistants are doing the best they can to bring the most talented players to Pitt. They’re recruiting certain regions, offering certain players and in some cases not offering players with the sole purpose of winning football games.
Guys like me and fans can play arm-chair recruiting coordinator and give opinions on who they should offer and who they should be able to sign. For us, we have no stake in the outcome as opposed to Narduzzi, who’s job is basically on the line to bring in the best recruiting class possible.
He and his other assistants are trying and have passion for what they’re doing, the question is, are they doing a good enough job? Let’s answer that question in 2020.