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With three weeks to go before signing day, drama leaves Pitt recruiting


National letter of intent day is three weeks from right now (Wednesday), and much of the drama has disappeared at Pitt — some of it not for the better.
Three WPIAL stars held news conferences in their communities to say they were going to West Virginia (Dravon Henry), Michigan State (Montae Nicholson) and Virginia Tech (Shai McKenzie). Pitt could have used Henry and Nicholson in the defensive secondary, perhaps as soon as 2014, but running backs Chris James and Qadree Ollison, plus the return of young, promising backs James Conner and Rachid Ibrahim, make the loss of McKenzie (while a big one) easier for Pitt coaches to swallow.
Speaking of defense, it appears Pitt will get at least one — most likely two — verbal commitments when linebacker Jamal Davis and defensive end Hez Trahan visit this weekend. Trahan said he has informed his chief recruiter, Pitt offensive line coach Jim Hueber, that he will commit before he goes home. Both players come from solid high school programs (Davis goes to Canton McKinley and Trahan to Roman Catholic in Philadelphia).
Trahan, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, said he wants to stay close to family, but the stability in Pitt’s coaching staff also was a big reason that he chose the Panthers.
“It’s a stable staff, not constantly moving out,” he said. “Coach Hueber recruited me, and he is going to be there next year.”
Roman Catholic coach Joe McCourt said Trahan can play inside or outside on the defensive line.
“I think (Pitt) will start him (outside), but once they get him on the training table and he starts eating, he could go inside, too,” McCourt said. “He’ll live in the weight room. He is a very coachable kid.”
McCourt has sent several players to Division I schools, including defensive end Scott Paxson, who played for Penn State and the Steelers.
“Scott was more polished coming in (to college), but Hez has more upside,” McCourt said.
Trahan, a three-year starter at Class AAAA Roman Catholic, also had offers from James Madison and Massachusetts.
If Pitt gets commitments from Trahan and Davis, that will make 24 in coach Paul Chryst’s second exclusive recruiting class. He added 27 last year. That makes 50 players (2013 quarterback Tra Chapman is the only one who is no longer in school) brought to campus by Chryst, or 58 percent of the roster. The Chryst stamp is becoming more and more indelible.
The only issue is that Pitt left Detroit’s Ford Field after the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl three weeks ago with 83 scholarship players. Subtract 17 seniors, add 24 incoming freshmen and that makes 90, five over the NCAA-mandated limit.
Attrition, which may already be at work, must trim five players from the roster before the freshmen enroll this summer.



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