Forgive the lack of Pitt football news this week, as I’m covering the 107th U.S. Open. On the way to Oakmont Country Club Saturday, I stopped at Pitt’s individual skills camp at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side and learned the following:
• Aliquippa receiver Jonathan Baldwin, regarded as one of the top five prospects in the WPIAL, has narrowed his college choices to Florida, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Pitt and Southern Cal.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Baldwin attended Dave Wannstedt’s camp Saturday, and it’s believed to be a two-way race between Pitt and Michigan. (The last Quips player to pick the Wolverines was Ty Law in the early 1990s).
Aliquippa assistant coach Sherman McBride said Baldwin informed Marquette that he will concentrate on football in college, not that Baldwin couldn’t play for Jamie Dixon. The Pitt coach would likely relish the opportunity to have a high-flying forward coming off the bench – especially against Marquette’s Tom Crean.
• Wannstedt issued a challenge to prospective offensive linemen at his camp: Pitt is taking four recruits at the position from the Class of 2008, so it’s time to compete.
One is reserved for Thomas Jefferson tackle Lucas Nix — who could commit in the next week or so – which leaves three scholarship remaining for the competition.
On Friday, Youngstown Ursuline’s Harold Coates (6-2, 325), Camp Hill Trinity’s R.J. Dill (6-7, 275), Gettysburg’s Logan Shultz (6-4, 295) and Central York’s Wayne Tribue (6-4, 282) attended Pitt’s camp.
Shady Side Academy’s Mike Farrell (6-5, 275), Hatboro-Horsham’s Travis Poston (6-6, 311) and Licking Valley’s Tim German (6-7, 275) were there Saturday.
Physique-wise, German was the most impressive lineman there. He’s tall and broad. You won’t find his name on recruiting sites, but German was an All-Central District Ohio Division III first-team selection as a junior.
• Other notable players attending Pitt’s camp are Greensburg Central Catholic cornerback Chris Hayden-Martin, Churchville-Chili (N.Y.) all-purpose back Averin Collier and Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy receiver Marcus Sales.
The 5-11, 195-pound Collier is the younger brother of Pitt sophomore tailback Kevin Collier, and is believed to be close to making a verbal commitment to the Panthers.
• Speaking of following in brother’s footsteps, sophomore safety Ross Ventrone has left the program and will transfer to Villanova on scholarship.
Ventrone, a walk-on from Chartiers Valley, ran with the second-team defense most of the spring and was projected as a special teams star. His brother, Raymond, starred at Villanova and now plays for the N.Y. Jets.
• There have been rumors that several Pitt players are leaving the program to transfer elsewhere. The only confirmed transfers are receiver Kelvin Chandler and defensive tackle Nick Williams, both of whom left the team after the season and are now at Illinois State.
Those rumored to be transferring are defensive tackle Derrell Jones, who has had academic issues; offensive lineman Kevin Hughes, who has been constantly injured; and quarterback Dexter Davidson, who had surgery on both knees and has yet to take a meaningful snap in practice.
Although much has been made of Buddy Morris and his return as strength and conditioning coach, his role this summer is to get Pitt’s players in top-notch shape and to help the Panthers weed out those who aren’t.
Pitt has only 15-18 scholarships to offer this year, so Morris could have a huge impact on its recruiting efforts if his training tactics rid the Panthers of scholarship players not on the depth chart and with no future as contributors.