PantherDigest Q&A: Friday Edition

Pitt is roughly 48 hours from its season-opener against Buffalo, but there's a lot of recruiting on the mind of the Pitt fan today.

mburgpanther: What's the word on Mike Caprara, kid seems like maybe undersized but yet he led team in tackles on a very good defense:
PantherDigest: We might speak to Mike Caprara this week, but we did go to one of his practices this week. Caprara—since I first saw him his freshman year—is an absolute animal. There's no doubt he's heading to the next level. Woodland Hills head coach George Novak has called him a Division I prospect since his sophomore year. The only knock I can find on him, is his size. That was noticeable only at the State College Nike Camp, where he was smaller than most of the linebackers in attendance. The kid is an animal when he's on the field, that's for sure. In addition, he's not one of those meatheads who runs around yelling and screaming all the time. He plays relentless, nonstop, but in a controlled way. He's definitely one to watch this year.

pittengineer75: How do you see this class wrapping up if LOI day is tomorrow?
PantherDigest: Signing day is so hard to imagine right now, with Pitt's opener less than 48 hours away, and an unblemished 0-0 record…haha. I think the biggest thing right now is they have the quarterback they wanted, and they have a lot of good help at the receiver and cornerback position. I think we'd all like to see some more help on the offensive line. Adam Bisnowaty—of all the legitimate Pitt targets—is closest to making a decision, and if he decides, that might be the most crucial get of this class to this point. But, if Pitt ends it with these 13 players, I don't think you'll see as many of them contributing right away as you would see with this current class.

It's pretty amazing to think that Todd Graham and his staff assembled this 2011 recruiting class in three weeks, and eight of them are at least on the two deep. If I had to pick a couple guys in contention for early playing time in 2012 as a true freshman, I'd go with Dakota Conwell. He comes to a position of need, and he is pretty talented. Darryl Render might be another—again, at a position of need.

However, Rushel Shell and Will Mahone are making decisions over the next five or six weeks. That's probably where will see the most movement. If either or both end up in Pitt's class, then Pitt is really going to swing some momentum towards a Top-20 class at that point. If they are able to add a pair of four stars in Corey Jones and Demetrious Cox—they'll be breaking the Top 15, for the Top 10. All these are very realistic possibilities.

pittengineer75: What do you see as the weakest position on this Pitt team going into the season and before going against another team? PantherDigest: Tremendous question, because all we ever hear about, are the positives, right? I have a good answer (at least I think I do) for that.

When you look at this entire team, overall, its strength is depth. Even at a position like quarterback where you have one player who has seen the field, you're still okay because this is a passer-friendly system. My weakest position—and I only say it because out of everyone, it's the most unproven position on this team—is the cornerback position. We will get an early chance to see how much this new philosophy of producing takeaways nets on the corners.

Now, a lot of things can go into judging what makes a great college corner. However, Pitt's corners since 2006 haven't been too high in the interception total. Darrelle Revis finished with four in 2006. Since then, Pitt has seen Kennard Cox, Aaron Berry, Ricky Gary, Lowell Robinson, Jovani Chappel, Antwuan Reed produce a total of 13 interceptions in the four seasons since then. The most anyone had individually, was Berry with three in 2008.

There's still hope. There's three seniors at corner, and what appears to be a rejuvenated Reed and Buddy Jackson at corner. K'Waun Williams, though, looks like the next all-star on the defense. He's done it in camp, and he had a great freshman year. Now, he's got to do it in games.

So, to answer your question, there's some talent at corner, but no real proven big games among the history at the position. If I'm playing Pitt, with the defensive line and the multiple packages we could see from the linebackers, I'm looking for one-on-one coverage to try to exploit. If you think of what beat Pitt last year (West Virginia, almost USF), that's what teams went after. If those corners step up and take that away, Pitt truly will have no weakspots.

jells73: Do you think they will go after another QB with in this class?
PantherDigest: It doesn't look like it. Even quarterbacks who came to camp that we've talked to, seem to understand that Chad Voytik is the guy, and that they will not be getting an offer.

jells73: Is there any under the radar recruit that you think Pitt will offer?
PantherDigest: There's a couple players that come to mind. One of them is Glenville corner Sean Draper. Draper came in here for camp, and according to one source in Ohio, "Pitt has more business at Glenville than Ohio State does." Yes, I really did hear that at one of the games, talking to one of the other reporters in attendance. There's also another that Bob reported on, in Dustin Creel out of Western Beaver.

I say Draper because one, I felt he did very well at the Pitt camp. Two, if Pitt truly is making noise at a school like Glenville, then it has to be more than just V'Angelo Bentley, Alex Pace and Willie Henry. Keep an eye on these guys for now.

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