Connect with us

Opinion

Vukovcan: Lack of Pitt Success in WPIAL Way Overblown

Published

on

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

Since starting this website seven years ago, I’ve noticed a couple of things tend to be brought up by fans every year. 1.) Pitt’s inability to recruit the WPIAL, and 2.) Whether Pitt was the first school to extend an offer to a WPIAL player. I think both talking points are overrated.

To borrow a phrase from WWE superstar and film star The Rock — it doesn’t matter.

It’s ridiculous that fans still talk about whether or not Pitt was the first school to extend an offer to local kids. Whether Pitt is first, third, fifth or even last, it makes no difference. No matter what they say, the player isn’t going to make his college decision on how early a program offered him.

Over the last four or five recruiting classes, I could give you 10 plus examples of Pitt being the first school to offer a player — especially a WPIAL player — and it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.

While it’s not as irrelevant, another topic that Pitt fans should stop focusing on is how well Pitt recruits in the WPIAL. While it’s nice to have local kids stay home and play for the hometown team, it’s not going to be a huge factor in whether or not Pitt is a winning football program.

The job of Pat Narduzzi and his assistants is to bring in the best players possible, not the best players from the WPIAL. Yes, if Pitt offers a player from the WPIAL and they decide to stay home, that’s always a nice win, but if they go elsewhere, that doesn’t mean Pitt’s recruiting class is awful.

The Pitt coaching staff is scouring the country for talent and a lot of their efforts are being spent in three places that produce a lot more talent than Pennsylvania: Florida, Georgia and now even Texas. Fans focus on local kids because they’re familiar with the names and schools they’re from, despite not having seen them play a single down.

The Pitt staff and the NIL collective are still working hard to try and secure the best players from the WPIAL, and if they fail, it’s not for a lack of effort. Unfortunately, in some of these cases, players are making decisions based on helmets and conferences instead of something more important like opportunity and development.

When I talk about opportunities, I’m referring to looking at the depth chart of the team they’re going to and the teams they passed up. Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m a high-level athlete, aside from the education and relationship with the coaching staff, the biggest thing I’m looking for is my path to get to the field. I wouldn’t be interested in going to a school where I’d have to possibly wait until my junior team to get meaningful playing time.

Sometimes it may come down to bad advice or a preconceived notion, and others it may come down to a lack of understanding when it comes to the difficulty of cracking the roster of a “Blue Blood.” There are a lot of talented four- and five-star players out there. Case in point, Eli Holstein was a top-rated four-star recruit and found out that Alabama’s roster is filled with four- and five-star quarterbacks, and there’ll be more coming in every recruiting class. The same goes with a school like Notre Dame, which former Pitt commit Kenny Minchey will likely realize soon.

In the last couple of years, a few highly rated four-star WPIAL players that originally passed on Pitt found their way back home. Former Gateway running back Derrick Davis, Aliquippa cornerback M.J. Devonshire and Peters Township safety Donovan McMillon left LSU, Kentucky and Florida, respectively, after a couple of years. After just one season with Pitt, McMillion is on the radar of NFL’s scouts, Davis will likely feature in the new offensive scheme and Devonshire will likely be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Going back to the last four recruiting classes, here are players who had offers from Pitt but elected to go play elsewhere. We’ll see how it ends up.

Class of 2020

TE Josh Rawlings (Woodland Hills): Virginia (2 career receptions)

OT Michael Carmody (Mars): Notre Dame, has since transferred to UCLA. (4 seasons, played in 12 career games)

LB Zuriah Fisher (Aliquippa) Penn State. (3 seasons — 23 tackles and 3.5 sacks)

Class of 2021

ATH Josh Hough (Beaver Falls): Syracuse. (Hasn’t played)

TE Khalil Dinkins (North Allegheny): Penn State. (2 seasons, 9 receptions for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns)

RB Derrick Davis (Gateway): LSU (Has since transferred to Pitt)

DB Donovan McMillan (Peters Township): Florida. (Has since transferred to Pitt)

CLASS OF 2022:

DT Donovan Hinish (Central Catholic): Notre Dame. (2 seasons, 10 tackles, 1 sack)

DE Tyreese Fearbry (Perry Traditional Academy): Kentucky. (2 seasons, 7 tackles)

CB Patrick Body (Gateway): Cincinnati (Has not played)

CLASS OF 2023:

WR Rodney Gallagher (Laurel Highlands): West Virginia. (1 season, 10 receptions for 74 yards)

LB Ta’Mere Robinson (Brashear): Penn State. (1 season, 2 tackles)

CB Lamont Payne (Chartiers Valley): Penn State. (Has not played)

In the recently signed class of 2024, Belle Vernon’s Quinton Martin signed with Penn State, Central Catholic’s Peter Gonzalez signed with Penn State, Central Catholic’s Cole Sullivan signed with Michigan, Central Catholic’s Anthony Speca signed with Penn State and Pine-Richland’s Ryan Cory signed with Wisconsin. Time will tell how these decisions end up working out.

The reality is that Pitt isn’t going to get every talented player from the WPIAL, and when one decides to go elsewhere, it’s not the end of the world. The Pitt football program has a lot of great things a potential recruit and doesn’t need to take a back seat to anyone. A Pitt football player will receive things such as top-notch development, state-of-the-art facilities to train in, exposure to many people in the football and business word, the ability to play major college football, a track record of getting players to the NFL and most importantly, the chance to receive a world-class education.

Pat Narduzzi will find a way to construct a depth chart full of talented players, and if they happen to come from the WPIAL, that’s excellent. But if not, that’s OK, too.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
35 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
35 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
A D
A D
14 days ago

Spot on.

Kowboygoc
Kowboygoc
14 days ago

Outstanding article. Could not agree anymore. Kids think grass is greener when the grass you are standing on is the best possible opportunity you could get. Kids think 💰and should think with the other head. H2P. SW×3N. SOME WILL, SOME WONT, SO WHAT….NEXT….😆

Dan
Dan
14 days ago

Bottom line is talent in WPIAL not what it once was

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
13 days ago
Reply to  Dan

quantity not there, but the quality you can’t lose out on

Rob
Rob
13 days ago

Keep telling yourself this.

Kelvin Byrd
Kelvin Byrd
14 days ago

Excellent article. Totally accurate.

One point: “No matter what they say, the player isn’t going to make his college decision on how early a program offered him.”

And this why I had an issue with Pitt offering that 8th grader last week. It simply doesn’t matter.

Giovanni
Giovanni
14 days ago

Pitt always seems to be in the fight for WPIAL talent but, when looking at percentages, loses far too many star local player battles to both Penn State and Notre Dame. We can try and sugarcoat the ‘how well-off Pitt still is’ story as much as we want but it still doesn’t change the fact that Pitt coaches need to do a better job, versus outsiders, of recruiting the TOP WPIAL talent.

Jane
Jane
14 days ago
Reply to  Giovanni

They always have the only time they won more than they lost was during the major years besides that they have always lost but these kids get lost in the shuffle to those other schools they’re recruiting players like this. At every position they’re going for the glory of the team, not the play.

kmp30
kmp30
14 days ago
Reply to  Giovanni

Sometimes kids simply don’t want to stay home. I wouldn’t, and didn’t. It’s a life choice too. Pitt won’t get all the local recruits they want simply because some of them just don’t want to stay home.

Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago
Reply to  Giovanni

It’s not like winning Michael Carmody or Phil Jurkovec would have made a difference. We ended up getting Phil in the end anyhow and we all saw how that turned out. Winning a player is good but you never know how these high school stars and their star ratings translate to college football.

Giovanni
Giovanni
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

I understand your point but… Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State all land primarily 4 and 5-star players. If recruiting lower rated talent, none would be consistently dominant. Agreed that a certain number of 4 & 5-star’s end up overrated, however, its all about putting the odds on the team’s side to achieve consistent success. Mostly 4 & 5-star players build the path to get there. Tough to recruit this level outside of the area if there isn’t success in landing the ones in your own backyard.

John
John
14 days ago

Article doesnt ask the real question of why pitt cant secure more local talent. Narduzzi doesn’t have a good reputation amongst wpial players that have come through the program alot of broken and freyed relationships and those experiences are talked about in circles within the city. Do better in building relationships

Menotyou
Menotyou
14 days ago
Reply to  John

Broken and frayed? Who?

sousesider
sousesider
13 days ago
Reply to  John

not the case at all

Menotyou
Menotyou
14 days ago

Nope not the end of the world. Buuutttttt it is a sign of the overall state of the program that PSU and a few others take all of the best kids from here. No it’s not over but it also shows what the top talent think of the local big school. Remember what Porter Jr. said his senior year when another top WPIAL recruit received a Pitt offer? He considered it a joke. Pitt is a joke to the elite talent. If we have to rely on getting lucky with all the three stars then the best we can hope… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago
Reply to  Menotyou

They’re kids for goodness sake and they all believe their superstars until reality sets in for a lot of them and they realize it isn’t high school any longer and everyone in college was the man in high school. Nobody has mentioned a teams evaluation process of a player either. Just because Rivals and 247 grades them four or five stars doesn’t mean the coaching staff sees that kind of potential in a recruit. There are plenty of kids not rated very highly out of high school that turn into very good college players once they’ve matured and get college… Read more »

Section 122
Section 122
14 days ago

Most local guys that that the perceived “better offer” are never heard from again. Most never sniff the field.

Rob
Rob
14 days ago
Reply to  Section 122

Exactly. Like I said in the Dayshaun Burnett thread, name a WPIAL recruit in the past
10 years – besides JPJ and Miles Sanders – who has made a difference at Penn State.
You just can’t.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
13 days ago
Reply to  Rob

Jaquon Brisker
Sean Lee
A.Q. Shipley
Stefen Wisniewski

There’s a few for you

Rob
Rob
13 days ago

I’ll admit I missed Brisker, but those other guys are quite a few years further back than the 10-year period I set. And Brisker went to Gateway; Pitt’s not getting anybody from there that Penn State wants.

Last edited 13 days ago by Rob
Michael Roth
Michael Roth
13 days ago
Reply to  Rob

The one guy that chaps me a little, who played this year at psu and wanted a pitt offer, daqeun hardy from Penn hills.

Just be grateful he didn’t bring up short, Arrington or poluzny (sp).

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
13 days ago
Reply to  Michael Roth

further back than 10 years ago.

Columbus Panther
Columbus Panther
14 days ago

Thank you so much for this opinion piece. I’ve been preaching it since the Pryor days and beyond.

Tom D
Tom D
14 days ago

Mike makes some great points as usual.I would say that it’s not an either/or situation. But would it hurt for them to get some top WPIAL players?? Why does PSU get all the top talent?? Some of those players should be higher priorities. Would also help attendance a bit.

J Z
J Z
14 days ago

I think this is more about the perception of losing these players than the actual impact of losing them, especially now with the portal. Unless the names of these players are Marino or Dorsett, I’m not gonna lose too much sleep over it.

Greg
Greg
14 days ago

Sure is all roses. Couldn’t a few of the better WPIAL players helped Pitt avoid the 9 loss 2023 season? They sure couldn’t hurt.

Ken
Ken
13 days ago

Wow I’m dizzy from all the spinning. Think 3-9 proves it does matter.

Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago
Reply to  Ken

Because replacing a starting quarterback that got drafted in the first round of the NFL draft is a seamless process. And losing Calijah Kancey and Sirvocea Dennis is no big deal. I don’t think a couple W.P.I.A.L guys were going to remedy that situation.

Last edited 13 days ago by Jeff
CBDII
CBDII
13 days ago

Local kids do not want to stay home in so many situations. It’s a time for kids to grow and expand themselves well beyond the football field. Even going to central PA is “getting away.” You are dead accurate about the fact that it simply doesn’t matter. Penn State gets the best recruits from Virginia through New England and guess what, it doesn’t matter. That team does not win its conference, or contend for national titles. “Local” talent won’t make that happen.

sousesider
sousesider
13 days ago

4 star recruit #2 ranked receiver #13 over all…. went to alabama…35 passes for 389 career yds…who am I?

Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago

It’s not like you can comprise an entire team of W.P.I.A.L guys these days anyhow. You win some and you lose some but there’s plenty of states and talent out there. Some Pa kids end up coming here in the transfer portal anyhow.

Last edited 13 days ago by Jeff
Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago

I suppose the most comical part of this whole debate in my view is who has the most NFL hall of famers between Pitt and Penn State? It’s Pitt and Pitt will add to that legendary list soon.

And regardless of how many big name high school players from Pennsylvania end up choosing Penn State what has Penn State really done in recent memory that’s so impressive?

Michigan can rightfully boast of besting Ohio State and winning a National Championship. Penn State for all their so called recruiting wins can’t even come close to saying anything like that.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
13 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

You can keep searching for an argument that pitt can win….NFL HOF? OK, so how many of the current staff coached them? I guess they haven’t been telling the HOF numbers to WPIAL kids lately?

Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago

The sales pitch should be about tradition and culture. Not many schools can boast about the number of NFL hall of famers that Pitt has produced and can rightfully boast about. And there may be two more coming in the not too distant future from Pitt. Fitzgerald and Donald. It’s not so much about if the current staff has produced them but the program as a whole. Not all of Notre Dame’s hall of famers were produced by the same staff but they get the recruits because they preach tradition and culture. The ultimate goal for many recruits is to… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Jeff
Jeff
Jeff
13 days ago

Penn State with all the recruiting wins of four and five star players has done what with them?

Have they made the college football playoffs?

That would be a big fat no.

What good is winning all the recruiting battles when you produce nothing of significance with them.

Just another solid season isn’t good enough when you’re bringing in four and five star players annually.

So give me a break with the Penn State supposed superiority garbage.

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

 
Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend