I haven’t spoken to Pitt coach Paul Chryst since quarterback Wade Freebeck flipped his commitment from the Panthers to Vanderbilt on Tuesday afternoon.
I’m sure Chyrst wasn’t happy about it. The Pitt coaching staff had invested plenty of time and airline miles in Freebeck.
Chryst and quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger were at Freebeck’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home Jan. 23. Bollinger, offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and wide receivers coach Bobby Engram returned six days later.
But I also know this: Chryst quickly moved on. Rebuilding the Pitt football program is a 24/7 job, and there is no time to curse your bad luck.
Maybe Chryst pulled a short list of other quarterback prospects out of his desk drawer and wondered which one he should call first. More likely, however, he resumed making plans for spring drills next month when he will have only two veteran quarterbacks on his roster. He must figure out a way not to wear out the arms of Chad Voytik and Trey Anderson. (Adam Bertke will make three when he signs Wednesday, but he doesn’t graduate from high school until June.)
For sure, Chryst didn’t waste time cursing his bad luck. That is certainly not his style.
That said, do not underestimate the seriousness of losing Freebeck to Vanderbilt. It hurts, badly. It looks bad. It is bad.
Freebeck, 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, is a good prospect who could have competed for the starting job, possibly as soon as 2015. Losing him matters. Pitt has not had good depth at quarterback for several years (other than Chad Voytik’s second half in the bowl game), and Freebeck and Bertke looked like they might resolve that problem.
Now, Pitt needs another plan.
Here’s a possibility: Elizabeth-Forward’s Jaquan Davidson, a 6-foot-2, 173-pound three-star prospect, will sign Wednesday. He played quarterback in high school. In fact, I received this tweet Tuesday night from veteran talent scout Joe Butler of Metro Scouting Index:
“Not to worry about Freebeck, Eliz.Forward athlete Jaquan Davidson is a very capable QB/WR prospect. He may be a QB.”
One more thing
Fans need to stop taking Freebeck’s name in vain on the message boards. Some of the stuff I read Tuesday night looked like it was written on the bathroom wall of a junior high. Grow up, people.
Freebeck, an excellent student, has the right to go to the school of his choice. He said he was thinking about academics, not football, when he flipped. Nice concept. More students should do the same.
Maybe he should have waited longer than June 30, 2013, before choosing Pitt, but NCAA rules allow him to change his mind until signing day. He and his family exercised that right. Good for them. After all, it’s his future.
The way I see it — and I bet Chryst wouldn’t disagree — Freebeck (or any recruit) should go to great lengths to assure he is making the right decision. If it means changing your mind at the last minute, OK. Do what you think is right.
If it upsets some people who are only invested in the program because they watch on TV or occasionally go to a game at Heinz Field, too bad.
Get over it. Chryst has.