Pittsburgh Grabs Some Big Recruits

In 2006, Dave Wannstedt's first full recruiting class at Pittsburgh finished 11th in the final Scout.com team rankings. This past February, he followed that up by landing the eighth rated class according to Scout.com. This year, the Panthers were off to a bit of a slow start, garnering just two commitments entering mid-June. But five recent commitments have Pitt back on track.

At 6-foot-5, 280-pounds, Lucas Nix is a force on both sides of the ball for Thomas Jefferson High School in Clairton, Pa. But Scout.com gave him a five-star rating and ranks him as the No. 27 player overall for his work at offensive tackle, which is where Pittsburgh projects him to play. Nix, who made several all-state and all-conference teams in 2006, will play with his brother, Nate, who is a redshirt freshman linebacker for the Panthers. His final four were Pitt, Illinois, ! Alabama, and Notre Dame, though the Irish had not extended an offer.

Nix was not the only player from Clairton to commit to Pittsburgh. Safety Manny Williams from Clairton High School will be joining Nix at Pitt in 2008. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was named first team all-conference last fall and is ranked as the No. 29 safety prospect in America by Scout.com. Despite hailing from the same town, Williams had never met Nix until they both visited the Pittsburgh campus last week. Minnesota, Akron and West Virginia were some of his other scholarship offers.

In early May, tight end Nic DiLillo committed to Clemson, telling Chris Pool of Scout.com that he was "99.9 percent locked up with Clemson." Hello, .1 percent. This week the four-star prospect from Madison, Ohio changed his commitment to Pittsburgh, saying that distance from home was a big factor. This past fall, the 6-foot-5, 245-pounder caught 46 balls for 580 yards and four touchdowns. DiLillo also had offers from Syracuse and Michigan State.

Pittsburgh's other commitments came from cornerback Chris Hayden-Martin of Greensburgh, Pa. and offensive guard Ryan Turnley of Aliquippa, Pa. Hayden-Martin picked Pitt over UConn and Boston College while Turnley held offers from Louisville, Georgia Tech, and Wisconsin.

Several Irish opponents landed commitments over the past couple of weeks. Offensive tackle Tyron Smith became USC's eighth commitment of the year when he selected the Trojans over UCLA and Arizona. The Moreno Valley, Calif. native is very quick and athletic, though at 265-pounds he will have to get bigger before making an impact in college. Smith was named second team all-state for underclassmen in California this past fall.

Boston College gained two commitments. Quarterback Justin Tuggle of Duluth, Ga. picked the Eagles over Ohio, Mississippi State, and Indiana. But BC's big coup was getting four-star running back Josh Haden from Fort Washington, Md. The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Haden rushed for over 900 yards as a junior and scored 17 total touchdowns. Scout.com! rank s him as the No. 26 running back in the class of 2008. Haden chose Boston College over Florida, where his brother Joe will be a freshman in the fall.

Scout.com rates Tyler Hoover as this year's No. 11 tight end prospect. But Michigan State recruited the Novi, Mich. product as a defensive end and that is where he will start out when he suits up for the Spartans. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Hoover has the frame to add size and strength without sacrificing any speed. Hoover also had offers from Nebraska, California, Michigan, and Illinois.

While the Wolverines came up short in their pursuit of Hoover, they did land 6-foot-6, 285-pound Rocko Khoury of Traverse City, Mich. Khoury is an offensive tackle at the high school level. But Michigan has two other 2008 tackle commitments and in February they signed just one lineman that they plan on playing inside, so it is likely that Khoury will get his first look at guard. He picked Michigan over Michigan State and all of the Michigan directional schools.

A few other high profile recruits made their decisions during the past couple of weeks. UCLA received three commitments, including one from four-star running back Milton Knox. The 5-foot-7, 196-pounder also had an offer from Florida State. His teammate at Birmingham Senior High School in Van Nuys, Calif., Donovan Carter, also committed to the Bruins. The three-star linebacker had offers from San Diego State, Arizona, and < st1:place>Washington.

The Florida Gators got their second commitment of the year. And while their first commitment was from a local Gainesville product, this one came from an interesting locale. Four-star safety Dee Finley hails from Auburn, Ala. and had an offer from the hometown Tigers, as well as offers from just about every program in the SEC. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder is No. 44 on Scout.com's Hot 100 list.

Finally, athlete Gerell Robinson canceled his trip to Notre Dame's camp and re-affirmed his commitment to Arizona. Notre Dame had eyed the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Robinson as a wide receiver, while Arizona told him that he would get a shot at his high school position: quarterback. But shortly after Robinson re-committed to the Wildcats, Arizona received a pledge from four-star Corona, Calif. signal caller Matt Scott. So it will be interesting to see what position Robinson winds up playing for the Wildcats.

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