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March 21, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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From behind closed doors: Pitt’s first scrimmage of the spring

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Any day I can say hello to Woodland Hills coach George Novak is a good one, and that was one of the highlights (for me) from Pitt’s first scrimmage of the spring.
Media was escorted out of the indoor facility before the action got started, but not before Novak reminded me that five of his former players are lining up for Pitt:
Senior cornerback Lafayette Pitts, senior defensive end Ejuan Price, senior defensive tackle K.K. Mosley-Smith, junior linebacker Mike Caprara and junior safety Jevonte Pitts.
On the field, there seemed to be a lot of action (I was told). Here is what I found out through some diligent reporting that consisted mainly of sticking a tape recorder into a lot of faces:
— The offense won, 77-71, based on coach Pat Narduzzi’s scoring system. First-team offense vs. first-team defense. The deciding play was a pass from quarterback Chad Voytik to sophomore wide receiver Jester Weah.
— Voytik said he was pleased with the tempo and the overall results of the scrimmage.
“We scored, we moved the ball, got first downs. When we were in backed-up situations, we moved away from our own end zone,” he said.
Among other receivers making big catches (according to Voytik) were Dontez Ford (tiptoed the back of the end zone) and Chris Wuestner (a fade pass from Voytik).
Ford continued his hold on a starting job at wide receiver. “Ever since the Duke game (last year), he has progressed,” Voytik said.
— When Narduzzi was asked about the reigning ACC player of the year, he described a reverse. Running back James Conner does a lot of things, but he doesn’t run reverses.
It was actually a play run by Tyler Boyd. When Narduzzi realized his error, he said, “We have two ACC players of the year.”
Actually, both Boyd and Conner made big plays.
Of Boyd’s reverse, Narduzzi said: “I thought it was going to be a TFL. Three guys were there and he gained yards. Very good football player.”
Conner scored on a 65-yard run on the scrimmage’s first play.
“Blocked well, not defended very well,” Narduzzi said. “I blame that on us as coaches. Overcoached.”
Middle linebacker Matt Galambos agreed that it might be difficult to stop the conference’s best player, but he said, “That’s no excuse. After that, we sunk into it.”
— Galambos also explained that the overall concept of the defense is easier to comprehend this season.
“We are going to run what we run (no matter what the offense does),” he said. “We are going to be almost the same every time. This is us. This is our defense. You have to stop us. We are going to dictate the game. We will be comfortable with everything we see.”
— Galambos had vowed to stay off Twitter during Lent, but he lost willpower when the Philadelphia Eagles — his favorite team — traded former Pitt running back LeSean McCoy. He criticized the deal to his social media followers, but he has since come to peace with it, he said.
— Mosley-Smith, the last remaining Pitt player who was recruited by Dave Wannstedt, is starting to look back wistfully on his collegiate career.
“It’s been a long road (he was in the 2010 recruiting class), but a great one,” he said. “I enjoyed every bit of my time here. I wouldn’t change it. This is my home.”
— Pitt got its first 2016 recruit when cornerback Tony Butler of St. Edward (Ohio) told coaches he plans to enroll. Butler, 6-2, 195 and a 3-star (Rivals), could play on either side of the ball.

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March 19, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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Pitt starts slow on first day with pads, but ends with `emotion’

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Pitt put the pads on for the first time this spring, but the third of 15 scheduled practice sessions started slow.
“We didn’t come out with any emotion,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said late Thursday afternoon. “We had to crank them up.
“The game of football is a game of emotion. You can’t come without that. We didn’t come out with any emotion, but we finished with a lot of it.”
Narduzzi and his coaching staff have generally been happy with the first days of spring practice.
“We have good kids. They don’t give us any lip.”
They are slowly getting to know the coaching staff, which is dramatically different in style and intensity from the past three years of Paul Chryst.
“I don’t know if they knew what to expect (from the new coaching staff),” Narduzzi said. “I think they are saying, `What’s next? Where are we getting hit from next?’ ”
Coaches might ratchet up the intensity Saturday morning when the team scrimmages for the first time.
Here a few highlights, gleaned from speaking to coaches and players after practice (most of which is closed to the media):
— Junior Dontez Ford, who has come to Pitt via Sto-Rox and Syracuse, has been the first to claim ownership of the key wide receiver position opposite Tyler Boyd.
“He is guy we are kind of counting on right now,” wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman said. “He is starting off pretty well right now.”
— Narduzzi made a point of telling reporters about a “great” catch Ford made when both the safety and cornerback converged on him.
“I thought it was going to be a pick,” Narduzzi said. “He went up over the top and took it away. Those two (Boyd and Ford) really stand out for me right now.”
Ford said safety Reggie Mitchell made a nice break on the ball. “I happened to snatch it right before he got to it,” Ford said.
— Narduzzi said Alex Officer has shown an aptitude for all three offensive line positions, but right now he is manning center – at least until Artie Rowell completes his recovery from a knee injury.
Adam Bisnowaty “always does a nice job,” the coach said. What he likes best about Bisnowaty is this: “He’s always asking questions.”
— Offensive line coach John Peterson, who likes right guard Alex Bookser’s toughness, said he has had some good conversations with former Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, now at Wisconsin. Rudolph’s insight into the Pitt roster was helpful to Peterson. “Coach Rudolph is a good friend of mine,” he said.
— Linebacker coach Rob Harley has been impressed how all four middle linebackers – from returning starter Matt Galambos to Mike Caprara to Quintin Wirginis to James Folston – have been able to get the defense lined up properly. That’s one of the key roles for the Mike linebacker.
— No one has won a starting job yet, but linebackers Bam Bradley and Nicholas Grigsby are opening eyes on the outside. “Those two are going to be critical to what we are trying to do,” Harley said.

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March 18, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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A couple notes from Pitt’s spring drills

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After two practices of a scheduled 15-session spring, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi has a lot of work to do and decisions to make. Some won’t be finalized until August, and maybe not even then.
But Dontez Ford and Zach Challingsworth are stepping up as the wide receivers lining up opposite Tyler Boyd with the first team. Don’t read too much into it, but it’s worth noting.
“Those are the two guys I have to rely on to free me up out of double coverage,” Boyd said.
At least in the spring.
On defense, coordinator Josh Conklin likes what he has seen from safety Reggie Mitchell and cornerbacks Avonte Maddox, Malik Henderson and Phillipie Motley.
Mitchell, a junior, can play both positions. Henderson is an early-enrollee freshman and Motley was redshirted last year during his freshman season.
Conklin said he was impressed with how three-year starting cornerback Lafayette Pitts, a senior, stayed after practice Tuesday to work with some wide receivers on his footwork at the line of scrimmage.
“Those are the things you want to see from that kid,” Conklin said. “He has a lot of experience. We are challenging him every day to come out and be consistent. The corners can’t hide. What we ask them to do, every rep they have to be on.”
What’s interesting to note is that Jordan Whitehead arrives from Central Valley this summer, and will add to the competition at cornerback. Maybe there actually will be some depth in the secondary.

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March 10, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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It’s spring (almost) and, of course, time for football

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Only slightly more than two months ago, Pitt was blowing a three-touchdown lead with four minutes left in the Armed Forces Bowl. It’s already time for the Panthers to start making amends.
Spring practice starts Sunday — NCAA Selection Sunday — and at Pitt there will be more interest in the oblong-shaped ball than the round one.
Sunday’s practice will be Pitt’s first of 15 sessions, culminating in the Blue-Gold game (we no longer can call it annual) at 1 p.m. April 18 at Highmark Stadium.
To get fans talking, AthlonSports.com has released its pre-spring ACC player rankings and, not surprisingly, 2014 ACC player of the year James Conner is at the top of the list, with Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd coming in fourth.
Here is the entire 15-player list:
1. Conner (conducted assault on Tony Dorsett’s school records)
2. Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey (he also can play corner)
3. Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller (ACC rookie of the year in 2013)
4. Boyd (Back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons)
5. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (1,008 yards as a freshman)
6. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (recovering from ACL surgery)
7. Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas (I would have ranked him higher)
8. Virginia Tech defensive end Dadi Nicholas (the highest-ranking senior on the list).
9. North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams (will skip spring with hip injury)
10. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (threw for 3,198 yards as a freshman)
11. Duke safety Jeremy Cash (big-time playmaker)
12. North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett (Only five INTs in 2014)
13. Virginia safety Quin Blanding (Five-star recruit who made good)
14. Virginia Tech defensive tackle Luther Maddy (Missed most of ’14 with knee injury)
15. Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander (Most freshman snaps in school history)
Others to watch: Georgia Tech defensive end KeShun Freeman, Florida State offensive tackle Rod Johnson, Clemson wide receivers Artavis Scott and Mike Williams, Wake Forest tight end Cam Serigne, Virginia Tech offensive lineman Wyatt Teller and Miami running back Joseph Yearby.

A few notes from Pitt’s spring prospectus, which was released Tuesday (without a depth chart, of course).
— The most impressive fact, to me, is this:
Rising senior tight end J.P. Holtz has played in every game in his first three seasons at Pitt. (He’s a senior, already?) As reliable as the sunrise, Holtz has 57 receptions for 581 yards and seven touchdowns in an offense that never went out of its way to highlight the tight ends.
Jaryd Jones-Smith, a left tackle last season, will get first crack at replacing T.J. Clemmings at right tackle. Adam Bisnowaty stays at left tackle.
— Mt. Lebanon’s Alex Bookser and Bethel Park’s Mike Grimm will tangle at right guard.
— Former linebacker Zach Poker will move to defensive end to try to alleviate a manpower shortage there. Don’t forget about defensive end Ejuan Price, who can be productive if he remains healthy.
— Outside linebackers will be labeled Star and Money under Narduzzi’s system, with Nicholas Grigsby at Star and Bam Bradley and redshirt freshman Jamal Davis at Money.

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March 8, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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Oldest living Pitt football letterman turns 101

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Bill Glassford no longer can say he is Pitt’s only 100-year-old football letterman. He turned 101 Sunday.
About 14 months ago, I heard about Glassford’s story from Pitt historian Alex Kramer when I ran into him at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association in Oakland.
Kramer, who was an administrative assistant to several Pitt coaches and saw his first game at Pitt Stadium in 1938, told me Glassford was preparing to turn 100. Kramer speaks to Glassford frequently, and he suggested I give him a call at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
That led to this story that appeared in the Trib on March 8, 2014, Glassford’s 100th birthday.
Turns out, Glassford played on the offensive and defensive lines for former Pitt coach Jock Sutherland from 1934-36, earning All-American honors his senior season and helping the Panthers compile a record of 23-3-2, including a 21-0 victory against Washington in the 1937 Rose Bowl. Three ratings services declared Pitt national champion in 1934 and ’36.
Later, Glassford was head coach at Nebraska from 1949-55.
Kramer said Glassford is recovering from a recent fall, but he is in relatively good health and still watches Pitt games whenever they are televised in Arizona.
My favorite Glassford story: He said he was twice offered the head coaching job at Pitt, but he turned down an opportunity he and his wife both wanted to accept. Seems he was under contract to Nebraska, and didn’t think it was right to break his contract.
Hmmm … a coach who honors his contract. He has to be at least 101-years-old.
Happy birthday, Mr. Glassford. It was a great honor to speak to such an honorable man.

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March 4, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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Vinopal opens eyes at Pitt’s first open Pro Day

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A couple of notes from Pitt’s Pro Day, the first in memory (maybe ever) to be open to the media.
— Chatted with coach Pat Narduzzi on the way across the parking lot after the weightroom session. He couldn’t believe this is the first year reporters and photographers were permitted to watch the drills. The new transparency was his idea, by the way.
I didn’t tell him about the years when we had to stand outside the indoor facility — in the cold — waiting to conduct interviews.
Narduzzi is finally catching his breath after more than two hectic months on the job. He won’t have much time to relax, however. Spring practice starts March 15.
Narduzzi, who seemed to know most of the 41 NFL scouts in attendance, was pleased to see many members of his team watching the proceedings and supporting the eight seniors working out for NFL scouts.
He said safety Ray Vinopal, who had a great day, originally planned to lift following the conditioning drills after most of the non-NFL spectators had gone home. But he changed his mind when he saw his teammates there to support him.
“He got the adrenaline going,” Narduzzi said, “said `I’m going to get this in right now,’ then popped out 26 reps (in the bench press). He looked great in all the drills out here as well.”
— Vinopal had long chat with San Diego Chargers scout James MacPherson, and Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake offered a congratulatory handshake. Vinopal, who was clocked in the 40 in the low 4.5s on most NFL stopwatches, ran faster than most of the safeties at the scouting combine last month in Indianapolis.
He also looked to be in great shape after two months working out in Miami.
Slightly undersized at 5-10, Vinopal speaks and acts with plenty of confidence. Those characteristics will serve him well in the NFL, and I’m certain he’ll end up in some team’s camp — drafted or not.
“I am stronger than most safeties,” he said. “I can come down and fill a hole (in run defense).
“This year, I played more solid football. Anybody who digs in the film and knows football will see that. Missed assignments just weren’t happening this year like they were last year. I knew the game.”
— Also looking to be a bit bigger and stronger since the end of the season was quarterback Chad Voytik, who was watching the proceedings with former Pitt quarterback Trey Anderson. Voytik said he might have put on about 5 pounds since January.
Anderson, who is graduating this spring, said he is looking to transfer closer to his home in Pearland, Texas, for his final year of eligibility. He hasn’t picked a landing spot yet.
— Quick note about Anderson:
He came to Pitt in 2011 because he was a fit for former coach Todd Graham’s offense. After Graham left and Paul Chryst brought in a pro style offense, Anderson didn’t go running back to Texas, feeling sorry for himself. He stayed through the next three years even though he knew he had little chance to play. Good for him. There’s a kid with his priorities in order.
He became a key part of Pitt’s quarterback meetings, offering help to Chryst and Voytik while attempting only 20 passes in three seasons — without complaint. He will leave town with his degree and plenty of good memories.
His goal is to coach, and Chryst and Voytik have said many times that Anderson will make a good one.
— Good to see former Steelers director of football operations Tom Donahoe at Pro Day. He now scouts for the Philadelphia Eagles. One of the NFL’s good guys.
— Also in attendance was former Pitt All-American and current St.Louis Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He was offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings’ roommate at Pitt, and now the pair can become Pitt’s first back-to-back first-round draft choices since Darrelle Revis and Jeff Otah in 2007 and 2008.
— Clemmings did not run or lift after performing for scouts at the Combine last month. But he spent a lot of time working with Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and seemed more relaxed than at any time during the season.
And why not? He is on the brink of landing a big contract.
He also credited Chryst for urging him to move to offense after three unproductive years at defensive end and former Pitt line coach Jim Hueber for pushing him to become one of the ACC’s best tackles last season.
“Nothing to stress about,” Clemmings said. “I’m happy to be here. I didn’t think I’d be here.”

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February 27, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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Football season arrives early — 5:15 a.m. to be exact

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The temperature dipped to 5 degrees at 5:15 Friday morning. But, yes, there were two Pitt football players running to practice wearing nothing but a T-shirt, shorts and workout cleats?
Did I sleep through spring and most of summer and it’s August already?.
No, this was one of the twice-a-week conditioning sessions Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is holding in advance of the start of official spring drills March 15. He invited the media to watch the first half-hour (5:30-6), and five of us accepted his invitation.
When I walked inside the indoor facility, the first player I encountered was rehabbing center Artie Rowell, who looked at me as if I had lost my mind. He did offer a warm handshake, a smile and a shake of his head, with the words, “What are you doing here?”
What we saw at first before we were herded away for a promise of breakfast (thank you, Celeste, for the snicker doodle muffins and chocolate milk) were mainly warmup drills, high leg kicks and easy sprints. All the while, strength coach Dave Andrews kept blowing into what appeared to be an increasingly shrill whistle.
Then, Narduzzi herded the team into the middle of the field for a tug-of-war (offense against defense). As far as I could tell, the defense won twice, with the losing team hitting the floor for up-downs. Narduzzi continually kept up the intensity by shouting in the players’ ears.
Later, players participated in a drill in which they pull on thick ropes, curling them into waves, while assistant strength coach Austin Addington-Strapp shouts instructions.
In case you’re wondering, these conditioning sessions are perfectly legal per the NCAA if no footballs are present. I looked. Pitt was clean.

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February 23, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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Howard’s dismissal hurts Pitt’s depth at shallow cornerback position

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You can look at the dismissal of cornerback Titus Howard by Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi in one of two ways:
— It’s either a devastating blow to a position that had little experienced depth before Howard’s departure.
— Or, it’s a unique opportunity for incoming freshmen cornerbacks Jordan Whitehead, Malik Henderson and Dane Jackson. Time to turn the page. Again.
Howard once had a bright future at Pitt. He played in 11 games during his freshman season of 2013, starting two. He contributed two pass breakups in the victory against Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Then, former coach Paul Chryst suspended him for the 2014 season for unspecified disciplinary reasons. Yet, the opportunity remained within Howard’s grasp. He practiced with the team every day; the suspension took effect only on game day. He looked like a player on his way back to good standing.
But Howard lasted less than two months with Narduzzi. Despite a shallow pool of players at cornerback, Narduzzi acted in what he believes to be the best interests of the program, dismissing Howard for violating unspecified team rules. Trivia such as the number of capable cornerbacks remaining on the roster was unimportant in this case, as it should be.
Clairton coach Wayne Wade said he didn’t know the details of Howard’s situation.
“I was excited for the kid,” Wade said. “He was working so hard to get back.”
Howard is the second former Clairton cornerback to leave Pitt without exhausting his eligibility. Trenton Coles transferred to Duquesne last summer.
What’s next for Pitt at one of the most important positions on the field?
The answer could emerge in how quickly the incoming freshmen, especially Whitehead, pick up the Narduzzi defense. Whitehead might be the most talented cornerback on the team as soon as he steps on campus this summer.
Elsewhere on the depth chart, veteran Lafayette Pitts is entering his final year of eligibility, and should be eager for a fresh start. Troy Douglas, the secondary coach under Chryst, called out Pitts late last season for a lack of consistency on the practice field. New cornerbacks coach Renaldo Hill should become Pitts’ new best friend.
The other returning cornerback, sophomore-to-be Avonte Maddox, is coming off a season in which he started six games and showed promise.
Also, junior-to-be Reggie Mitchell started seven games at cornerback last season before moving to safety. He could return to cornerback, but there is a hole at safety with Ray Vinopal graduating. Mitchell might be needed at both positions.
What does Narduzzi think? Good question. Spring practice starts March 15. Keep an eye on Triblive.com for some answers.
On an unrelated Pitt note that shouldn’t surprise anyone, there will be a spring game in April after Chryst canceled it last year.

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February 16, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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Pitt’s Clemmings rides first-round roller coaster on eve of NFL Combine

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More than two months before the NFL Draft and a day before the start of the NFL Combine, Pitt right tackle T.J. Clemmings already is riding a roller coaster.
Not long after the season, he was considered a top-10 draft choice. After an uneven Senior Bowl when he played offensive left tackle for the first time in his career, he dropped several spots. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him going No. 25 to the Carolina Panthers.
But NFL.com’s Mike Mayock, one of the elite NFL talent evaluators, still ranks Clemmings the No. 1 offensive tackle in the draft — ahead of Stanford’s Andrus Peat, LSU’s La’el Collins and Miami’s Ereck Flowers. He lists Iowa’s Brandon Scheff as the top interior lineman.
During a conference call Monday, in which 50 reporters were still waiting to ask a question after the first two hours, Mayock had high praise for Clemmings, mixed with words of caution.
“His upside is unbelievable,” he said. “He is so gifted. But he has some technique issues.”
The issues are not unexpected, given Clemmings, 6-6, 315, played only two years of high school football in Teaneck, N.J., and was a defensive lineman at Pitt until Paul Chryst convinced him two years ago that offense was where he would make his fortune.
“He’s raw,” Mayock said, explaining Clemmings’ problems at the Senior Bowl. “He was exposed a little bit, but that didn’t hurt him. We all know of his talent, but we respected that he came out and competed.”
Mayock added that he believes Clemmings will be drafted in the “15-25 range” of the first round.

Other notes from Mayock’s call:
— He lists West Virginia’s Kevin White as the top wide receiver, ahead of Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Louisville’s Devante Parker. “He has a higher ceiling than Cooper,” he said. “But I want to know what he runs (at the Combine).”
Cooper is the “safest pick” among wide receivers, according to Mayock. But White and Parker are “bigger-bodied guys (6-foot-2 and about 210 pounds).”
“You can throw it up and they can win jump balls.”

— Count Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong as a wide receiver to watch after catching 82 passes for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns for Todd Graham, who plucked him out of a community college in California. Strong is a Philadelphia native, who went to the same high school as Pitt safety Patrick Amara (West Catholic).
“He has the physical traits, height, weight (6-3, 212) and speed of Larry Fitzgerald when he came out of Pitt,” Mayock said. “That doesn’t mean he is anywhere close to him from a technique perspective. He’s really raw.”

— Mayock rates Penn State tight end Jesse James of South Allegheny as “an inline blocker who is pesky. Not overly powerful, a mid- to late-round tight end.”

— Penn State linebacker Mike Hull of Canon-McMillan has caught Mayock’s eye. “He’s a smart, tough, impressive Penn State linebacker,” he said. “He gets the game of football. He will make his living on special teams and will show coaches how impressive he is (and earn a starting job).”

— Mayock said Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith has “awesome right tackle ability, who may not get drafted until the second or third round.”

— Asked about players leaving college early for the NFL, Mayock made an interesting — but not unexpected — observation about running backs.
“Certain positions, like running back, once you’ve proven yourself, you probably need to go,” he said.
Keep that in mind a year from now.

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February 5, 2015
by Jerry DiPaola


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Pitt LOI day: A look back

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Letter of intent day was winding down early Wednesday night when I checked the Rivals.com Class of 2015 rankings.
Pitt was 70th.
Thursday morning, I checked again: 72nd.
A couple of schools must have added a name or two and moved ahead of Pitt, but the Panthers’ class was no better or no worse Thursday than it was Wednesday when coach Pat Narduzzi said:“We have a group full of guys who can take us to the next level.”
The point: Don’t pay too close attention to what the analysts are saying.
It’s true that Pitt’s class appears to have its share of holes, but predicting how high school seniors will develop as men and football players over the next four years is difficult, if not impossible. With the right work ethic, training and direction, any player with enough athletic ability can succeed.
The best example of that surfaced in 2010 when former Pitt All-American Aaron Donald was just another overlooked defensive tackle coming from Penn Hills High School, with only four offers (Pitt, Akron, Rutgers and Toledo). Defensive end Bryan Murphy and quarterback Mark Myers were rated ahead of him.
As it turned out, Murphy and Myers never fulfilled their promise and left the team before graduation. Donald was one of the most richly decorated players in college football history in 2013 and the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year in 2014.
Another example: The average star rating of the Patriots’ and Seahawks’ starters in Super Bowl XLIX was under 3. The game had no 5-stars.
Other than Florida State and Clemson, the remaining 12 ACC schools recruited no 5-stars this year. Also, FSU and Clemson had 19 of the conference’s 34 4-stars. Defending Coastal Division champion Georgia Tech, Boston College and Syracuse had none. Pitt has two.
The bottom line: Narduzzi could have recruited the greatest class in ACC history, and he still would have a lot of work ahead of him.
Here is a brief scouting report — straight from Narduzzi during his Wednesday news conference — on each of the 15 players in Pitt’s class:
OLB Saleem Brightwell — “Very athletic … really fits a need as far as an outside linebacker with speed.”
QB Ben DiNucci — “We started scouring quarterbacks across the country. We didn’t pick him because he was just up the road and it was easy for (offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to go see him. The reason we picked him is he was the best quarterback we found out there. Smart, composed and athletic enough to run. I don’t know what else you look for in a quarterback.”
Junior college DE Allen Edwards — “I watched him practice in November (when Narduzzi was still at Michigan State). We won’t be known for taking a bunch of JC guys, unless there is a need.”
RB Darrin Hall — “Big, old tailback (5-11, 215). Physical, will punish you. Has great hands out of the backfield.”
CB Malik Henderson – Enrolled last month. “He could have turned around and went back home (after Paul Chryst left). Very athletic. Shows ability to run with loose hips.”
WR Quadree Henderson — “Electric. Not afraid to catch the ball over the middle. Played some defense.”
WR Gentry Ivery — “Why was that guy still out there (without many offers)? He will be an impact receiver for us in the near future.”
DB Dane Jackson — “Returner. Smooth guy who will strike you. We need guys in the (secondary) who will strike you.”
LB Anthony McKee — “We need some athletic linebackers in this program. He will fit that.”
OL Alex Paulina – “Maybe the toughest guy in our class. You talk about finishing blocks and taking people to the ground. He’s never going to fall on the ground. He’s going to be on the ground a bunch because he’s going to be on top of somebody.”
QB Nathan Peterman — “He was a guy we felt we needed, an older guy to fill in the gap with his experience playing in a big-time program. Brings a ton of maturity. He makes all the throws. He makes us better.”
OL Tony Pilato – “Tallest center (6-5) I have seen in high school football.”
S Jay Stocker — “Played a lot of our defense, our scheme (in high school). Can make an immediate impact. Tough enough to come down in the box and tackle people. Sometimes, you can’t get that.”
WR Tre Tipton – “Coach Chaney said we can borrow him on defense if we need him. Great speed, but looks like a great route runner. Here’s a guy who fought off some action (other schools trying to flip him).”
CB Jordan Whitehead — “Can make an immediate impact. I want him to play both (offense and defense). First of all, we have to find out how fast he picks things up. We don’t want to fill his head with so much information, we slow him down. Once he says he has it, we will give him something else to chew. One of the easiest guys (to keep from flipping), with the great family support system.”

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