Cignetti Keeping Tabs On Recruits

In the recent recruits we've talked to over the last couple of days, a lot have talked about a positive relationship with Pitt's offensive coordinator. Thursday, Cignetti offered a statement exclusively through Panther Digest, which is representative of his hope that all of Pitt's 2011 commits remain committed to the Panthers.

In the two days since Dave Wannstedt's dismissal as head coach, one thing has been consistent in what a lot of the current Pitt commits have offered. A lot have expressed an interest in seeing Frank Cignetti Jr. stay on as head coach. Look no further than the third player to verbally commit to Pitt's 2011 class, Gary Nova, who also happens to be a quarterback.

"I'm definitely firmly committed, unless there‘s a drastic change in the coaching staff," Gary Nova told Panther Digest on Wednesday night. "I'm hoping that everybody stays, and that (offensive coordinator Frank) Cignetti gets the head job. Our 2011 class is a great class. We are hoping to make some noise at the next level."

When reached by phone on Thursday afternoon, and although he is not permitted to comment on specific recruits, Cignetti issued a statement that is representative of how he feels about the current 2011 commits sticking by their pledge to Pitt.

"They have made a great decision to attend the University of Pittsburgh based on our academic excellence, our proud football history and tradition and being that Pittsburgh is the greatest football city in America," Cignetti Jr. told Panther Digest. "Our leadership will change, but not our vision for their future success at Pitt."

In addition to Nova, a number of Pitt's 2011 commits, have expressed an interest in seeing offensive coordinator Cignetti come on as head coach. Even players not on offense, look to Cignetti as a big reason that they were not only interested in Pitt, but a big reason in to why they would stick with their commitment in light of a coaching change.

Lafayette Pitts says he is staying committed to Pitt, and even though he is headed for defense, would like to see Pitt's current offensive coordinator be given a shot.

"I want to make sure Coach Cignetti, Coach Bennett and Coach Hafley are still there," Pitts told's Matt Alkire on Wednesday night. "If they're there I'm definitely staying, but you never know because I really like the University of Pittsburgh, so if there is a complete change I might stay anyway.

"I talked to Coach Cignetti twice already, but I haven't gotten in touch with Coach Hafley yet, so I'm just waiting to talk to him."

And, if it's not a corner, even a big defensive tackle like Marquise Wright wouldn't mind seeing a current Pitt coach like Cignetti get the call.

"I would hope they'll be bringing in a Pitt guy or at least someone that I'd be able to feel the same way that I feel about Dave Wannstedt," Wright told‘s Matt Alkire on Wednesday. "I really do hope that Coach Jeff Hafley is still there because of the relationship we have because he is definitely more than just a coach to me."

Receiver Bill Belton, based on the numbers he produced in his senior year at Winslow Township--2,000 yards passing, and 1,000 yards rushing--is the type of player offensive coordinators love to have, because they can be used almost anywhere.

"If they don't make any changes to the staff I'm still going to Pittsburgh, no doubt in my mind," Belton told‘s Matt Alkire on Wednesday afternoon. "If they get rid of the entire staff I'd definitely have to go in another direction with my college choice.

"I talked to Coach Jeff Hafley (Wednesday) and he basically said that Coach (Dave) Wannstedt is going to coach the bowl game and that they're talking about Coach Cignetti taking over as head coach, but they have to see how it plays out."

Stay tuned to Panther Digest, for this and more on Pitt's search for a new head football coach.

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