Vukovcan: Recruits That Pass On Pitt, It’s Their Loss
Here we go, one of the oldest and most tiresome topics is back, Pitt’s ability or lack of ability to recruit in Western Pennsylvania. Sometimes, I think people like to make this an issue just to have something to criticize Pat Narduzzi about.
Following Belle Vernon’s Quinton Martin’s commitment to Penn State, I was hoping this wouldn’t become an issue but unfortunately that’s not the case, so I guess I need to set the record straight.
In the last couple of recruiting classes, a number of players from the WPIAL have passed up the opportunity to stay home and play at Pitt, in order to play for other major programs, namely Penn State.
Terry Smith and James Franklin have done a hell of a job recently pulling talent such as Martin, Anthony Speca (Central Catholic), Ta’Mere Robinson (Brashear) and Lamont Payne (Chartiers Valley) from Pittsburgh to State College.
Tip of the cap to them for winning those recruiting battles.
But you know what, Pitt will be just fine, and they shouldn’t be criticized or questioned for not being able to land these players.
In the cases of Martin, Speca and Robinson, Narduzzi and his staff recruited these players as hard as any program and were the first Power Five program to extend them offers. This is also the case with other players that have went to attend other major programs.
Recruiting has always been a very hard business and in today’s world of the NIL, it’s even more difficult.
NIL opportunities aside, the Pitt coaches have a great product to sell to potential high school recruits and don’t have to take a back seat to many other programs. As I’m very fond of saying, teams across the country can sell potential recruits playing in a conference or helmets or crowd size and while that’s cute, does it really matter?
The University of Pittsburgh offers players a world class education, the opportunity to play high level football and a coaching staff that has a proven track record of developing talent regardless of the star ranking recruiting services place on you and will get you drafted.
If I’m an athlete, that sounds like a pretty attractive destination, doesn’t it? Of course it does and because of that Pitt shouldn’t apologize to anyone for a player, especially a local player, that decides to play elsewhere.
At the same time, fans of Pitt shouldn’t rip these athletes for passing on the chance to stay home. Regardless of what we think, they’re doing what they think is in the best interest of their future.
Academics asides, time will tell if these players make the right choice.
If you go back and make a list of local high-level recruits that pass on Pitt for other schools, I can tell you that athletically speaking, a majority of these players’ original decision didn’t work out. In fact, we’ve seen a few of players do a re-do and transfer back to Pitt (Derrick Davis/LSU, Donovan McMillan/Florida, MJ Devonshire/Aliquippa, Phil Jurkovec/Boston College, Johnny Petrishen/Penn State).
Narduzzi will continue to try and recruit the best talent and players that he believes best fit his program, regardless of where they play high school.
The last time I checked, Kenny Pickett, Calijah Kancey, Izzy Abanikanda, Brian O’Neill, Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones weren’t from the WPIAL but are doing OK. At the same time, local players like Damar Hamlin, Tyler Boyd, Dane Jackson, Jordan Whitehead and Cal Adomitis made the decision to play for Pitt and that also turned out to be a good choice.
The bottom line is that if you’re talented enough, Narduzzi and company will get you to the NFL, regardless of where you call home.
Pitt fans just need to start trusting the coaching staff and their eye for talent. Sure, it’s nice if some of the local stars decide to join Pitt. But if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world as we’ve found out over the last few years.
When a player passes on Pitt, the Panther coaches have taken the attitude of it being their loss. It’s time that the fan base starts saying the same thing.
“fans of Pitt shouldn’t rip these athletes for passing on the chance to stay home”.
Then you list a bunch of players that come crawling back to Pitt when the team they signs with treats them like garbage.
Why shouldn’t they be ridiculed?
Most of the ones that “got away” are never heard from again anyway.
The goal should always be to get to the NFL and which system and position coaches can develop you for that opportunity. The campus, the stadium, the big crowd, the weather, the girls, the history of the program, the slick talking, and sorry to say the prestige of the education should take a back seat. The goal is NFL, opportunity to learn and play as much as possible which sharpens what’s you’ve learned and displays your talent. College championships shouldn’t even matter. Do your best and If the team wins then the team wins. That’s what these kids want and… Read more »
Wow, I can’t at all agree with you on this one. Pitt should absolutely be winning the majority of recruiting battles for the highest rated players located in their backyard. You say that Penn State is winning the recruiting battles for these local stars but this means Pitt is losing the same battles. Just stating that such a trend is no big deal, rather than trying to understand “Why??”, sounds like a cop-out. That’s quite a list of top-notch talent that you’ve listed that decided on Penn State. Yes, Narduzzi and staff has had very good recruiting success elsewhere but… Read more »
The flaw is PS has way more NIL money to splash around. Money talks, everyone else walks.
Like I’ve said before, it should be published how much NIL money each player is receiving. Only then will the fans know why “they got away”.
Needs to be a NIL cap, like in the NFL.
Only if you publish your income, that’s private information and should stay private.
Sure it is private and I agree but Addison went to USC for a rumored 3 million and Morgan went to Arkansas on a rumored 250k NIL deal. NIL money really is dictating where players are going.
The article makes a good point, it’s not the end of the world, but misses the larger point. Pitt does need to get some of the elite talent locally. Until the last few years Pitt has always done better than PSU with local kids. They can compete in the top half of the ACC without these guys. But if they want to be in that top 10-15 area nationally, they need some high end talent. It doesn’t have to come from Western PA, but that’s where many big Pitt recruits have historically come from. Duzz and his staff have done… Read more »