NCAA rules state without a shred of doubt that college coaches are not permitted to speak publicly about players they are recruiting until a letter of intent is signed, received and recorded by the university.
But if I happen to run into Pitt’s Paul Chryst on vacation next week — we are both going out of town, but (alas!) to different destinations — I would love to speak to him (off the record, of course) about Derrick Green of Hermitage High School in Richmond, Va.
Pitt happens to be among the 13 universities that Green, the nation’s No. 1 running back and 12th overall prospect, most favors. He is scheduled to visit Pitt July 15.
In light of that revelation, my questions to Chryst would include:
– Paul, do you think you have a chance with Green, who also lists defending national champion Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, among his final 13?
– Paul, what happens if Green tells you yes?
– Paul, is Green better than Rushel Shell, the incoming four-star freshman running back from Hopewell?
Chryst, of course, never would answer any of those questions, even if the NCAA didn’t care. He is a football coach, and those men typically keep their most interesting thoughts to themselves.
But I am intrigued by Pitt’s flirtation with Green, even if it appears the odds are stacked against the Panthers.
First, Green is a very good high school player who combines size (6-foot, 215 pounds) with what Hermitage coach Patrick Kane calls “breakaway speed.” Green is entering his fourth varsity season (third as a starter) at Hermitage, which went to the finals and semifinals of the state playoffs the past two seasons. Green rushed for 1,500 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last season.
“Hopefully, in his senior year, we can (win it all),” Kane said. Kane added that Green has the potential to reach the heights attained by Hermitage graduate Josh Vaughan, who has been in the NFL since 2009.
Kane said Green was “impressed by the Pitt coaches who came by and talked to him (including running backs coach Desmond Robinson). Pitt is one of (the schools) he is intrigued by. That’s one of the reasons he is going to check (Pitt) out.”
Pitt also has offered a scholarship to Green’s high school teammate, wide receiver/safety Brian Brown, who has offers from East Carolina and Richmond.
Kane emphasized that Green has listed no favorites among the 13 schools.
“He’s not going to get into which program he likes more,” he said.
Green was unavailable for comment for this blog because he is attending The Opening by Nike in Beaverton, Ore., where the top 150 high school prospects are competing this weekend. Green looks like he will have a busy July, planning visits to Pitt, Mississippi, Alabama, Auburn and Michigan’s barbeque at the end of the month. He already has been to Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Clemson.
Even if Pitt fails to sign Green, its efforts could open important roads into ACC country where the Panthers probably will go as soon as next year. If Pitt is going to successfully recruit that area, it can’t be afraid of players who attract SEC interest.
Chryst looks, to me, like a guy not afraid of a fight. And that’s a good trait for a college football coach.
Chryst has verbal commitments from 13 prospects in Pitt’s Class of 2013, but the only four-star is quarterback Tra Chapman of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio. Plus, losing four-star WPIAL linemen Patrick Kugler of North Allegheny and Dorian Johnson of Belle Vernon to Michigan and Penn State, respectively, doesn’t help perceptions. Now, Pitt needs to sign at least one of the two remaining WPIAL four-stars, wide receivers Robert Foster of Central Valley and/or Tyler Boyd of Clairton.
Of course, at this time last year, Pitt had only one commitment from a player who eventually enrolled (Clairton wide receiver Trenton Coles), and ended up signing four four-stars — Shell, Fox Chapel offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty, Sto-Rox linebacker Deaysean Rippy and Cleveland, Tenn., quarterback Chad Voytik.
A wise guy may point out that Pitt has as many kickers (two) in its ’13 class as offensive linemen, but it’s nearly seven months to signing day.
If Todd Graham taught us anything, it’s that first impressions don’t always tell the whole story.