Was it tough at all, for Pitt assistant Mike Norvell to go into Texas high schools and recruit Pitt? According to him, not so much. He felt it was easy selling the Pitt name.
"I'm telling you, that was one of the most exciting things for me," Norvell said. "Obviously, I've got a lot of previous relationships from recruiting down there. When you go in (to a school), and like Coach Graham's saying, we're going to recruit nationally. We have a logo, we have a brand that is known nationwide.
"In the age today of the internet, and kids being able to go on there and do their own research, I walked into a school there and you could see the excitement on a kid's face. Obviously, when those young men came up here on campus, it blew them away."
Pitt signed Corey Davis, a 5-11, 180-pound running back out of Gladewater. They also added 6-0 corner Lloyd Carrington out of Dallas and 5-10 corner Jason Frimpong out of Irving. One of the things that aided in the commitments from Carrington and Frimpong, was the fact they know they have a chance to play in front of their hometown as many as two times in their career, with the addition of TCU starting in 2012.
Many expected the addition of TCU, who claimed a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin last month, would add some instant credibility because of the level of competition alone. What Norvell and others are finding, is that they can already use the Big East's addition of TCU as a factor in recruiting now.
"You sit there and you look at the name of a TCU coming into the conference in two years, that gives us a geographical tie," Norvell added. "That's something that's also bringing excitement to those kids. You get an opportunity to come back and play in your home state. I think that's something with these kids, sitting in their living rooms, you're going to play at home, probably twice in a four-year period. You'll play here in Fort Worth."
Norvell said in the case of Davis, whose school is a couple hours east of Dallas, it was hard to get Davis to contain his excitement about wanting to commit.
"Corey is a young man that I was recruiting at Tulsa. I tell you what, he's one of the most explosive players I've seen here in a long, long time," Norvell said. "He's a 10.5, 100-yard meter (in Track and Field). He's one of the fastest kids in the state of Texas. When you sit there and look at what he's going to bring to this offense, it's a true home-run threat."
Does he get concerned, wondering if Davis will get that label as a ‘track guy?' In other words, is he a player with a lot of speed, but no football sense?
"There's a lot of guys out there that are track guys," Norvell explained. "When you watch his film, he is a football player that can run track, and that's what we're excited about. He was excited about the opportunity. When he got up here on campus, it did not take long for him to jump on board with what we're doing. I just had a good relationship with him, and we're excited."
One of the issues Norvell could have faced, was convincing some of these Texas players to come up to Pittsburgh and playing in the snow, at certain points of the year. He has a positive approach to the weather concerns, but based on some recent weather in Dallas—which included a -1 wind chill in Dallas during the week of Letter of Intent Day, players like Carrington didn't need much convincing. When it comes to talking about the weather, Norvell defers to the NFL.
"Every kid you talk to wants to be an NFL prospect, they all want to play in the NFL," Norvell said. "The funny thing is, if you get drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, or if you get drafted by the New England Patriots, you're going to go live and have to be in a colder environment.
"I don't think that's too much of a factor. The thing that most of these young men are looking for, is the fit for them; academically, football program, and the university they want to be a part of. That's the thing that we sell and we stress."
While he obviously helped create some instant credibility in the state of Texas, and at the same time has laid the ground work to continue recruiting in the Lone Star State for 2012, the factors Norvell lists as good reasons to come to Pitt worked in the case of the three athletes they signed. Listening to Norvell's enthusiasm about a place like Pitt has been contagious so far.
"Obviously, the excitement of what we're going to do at the University of Pittsburgh, the excitement of where the Big East Conference is heading to, obviously continuing to grow, that's something that you see that in the kids' faces," Norvell said. "You see it as coaches. People want to get on board with what we're doing here. It's a lot of fun."