Official Visit Primer

The Panthers will have a few big names on campus this weekend including a pair of commits.

Deaysean Rippy represents one of the biggest names on the Pitt campus this weekend, or at least one of the guys that Pitt fans will want to know about most after the weekend. Rippy was initially scheduled to take his official visit last weekend. Instead, he took a trip to Colorado. Cousin Doug Rippy and former WPIAL star Toney Clemons are at Colorado, giving him some familiarity there.

It's been hard to gauge Rippy's interest during his recruiting process. If he was that set on attending Pitt, it seems he would have committed by now. It's unlikely—even if the visit goes well this weekend—that Rippy would commit during or after his Pitt visit. He's also got an official visit planned at Maryland the following week. He is expected to make his decision at next month's Semper-Fi game in Phoenix.

While Rippy has always been high on the wish list, Ryan Watson may have taken an even higher positioning in recent weeks. Watson mentioned Pitt in his top four a couple of months ago. Initially, it was thought that his college choices would come down to Pitt and Penn State. With the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Penn State program right now, Watson now has Pitt and Purdue as a couple of his finalists.

Pitt defensive line coach Paul Randolph checked in with Watson at his school last week. Watson took his official visit to Purdue last weekend. With Pitt having the last shot at him, the stars are aligned for the Panthers to get Watson--possibly on this visit. It would be a big get for the Panthers,considering they've aimed for several years at establishing a presence in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area. Todd Graham was initially planning on taking three offensive linemen in this class—which he has. Watson is a player you make room for in that regard.

Though Rushel Shell has been to Pitt a few times, and has been committed to the Panthers for nearly two months, the five-star running back has been flying under the radar. Shell's biggest task this weekend may rest in helping the Panthers land Deaysean Rippy, possibly even Watson. As a running back, there's more of a rationale to helping sell your school on a lineman--being Watson is the guy in charge of opening running room for Shell.

Jahmahl Pardner is Pitt's most recent commit, and up until about a month ago, didn't even have a Pitt offer. Pardner is a member of a successful program in Rochester (NY) Aquinas Institute. Aquinas captured a state title a year ago, and lost by three in the state championship game this year.

Pardner is an ideal fit for the Pitt defense in the sense that he's at a stage in his development where he can play anywhere. That's what this coaching staff is out to do in recruiting defensive players. They focus less on recruiting someone to play middle linebacker, or strong safety. In the case of Pardner, it's bringing in a player with the size of a corner who could also play safety—and if need be, based on how big he gets—maybe he can help out at the Spur linebacker position. Something inside the minds of this coaching staff triggers them to think a certain player is a hybrid. Pardner is a good example of that.

Devon Porchia reaffirmed to defensive line coach Paul Randolph of his commitment to Pitt—not that there was any concern. Tony Dews--who stepped down from the Pitt staff this week--was in charge of recruiting Porchia's area. It looks like Dews' departure won't have a negative effect on Porchia signing with Pitt.

Porchia wrapped up a 2011 season that culminated in a MIAA ‘A' championship win over Calvert Hall. He helped Gilman to a 10-1 record, and was part of a defense that allowed an average of 18 points a game.

Porchia is another one of those hybrid positions in a sense, in that he could step in to any of the linebacker positions. In fact, he'll probably learn a couple of the different ones, before settling on one. At least that's what it seemed with the freshmen linebackers from this past season.

Marquez Clark is a junior-college receiver out of Navarro (TX) who is expected to come in this weekend. He finished with over 70 receptions and at least 11 touchdowns this past season.

Does Pitt really need another receiver? Pitt will lose three receivers after this next season—Mike Shanahan, Cameron Saddler and Josh Brinson. Add Hubie Graham to that bunch, even though he's more of a tight end. If we learned anything from this past season, it's that Pitt needs receivers accustomed to this type of fast-pace/no-huddle offense. What better place to look than in Texas, where players are accustomed to this type of offense an early age.

Charles Siddoway is a junior-college lineman from Butte Junior College in California. Though Pitt may be set on the line, and could be in even better shape if Watson chooses the Panthers, Siddoway is worth taking a look at. He sounds like a Plan B option—especially considering the fact that Pitt already has three commitments from linemen. A JUCO lineman is brought in with the intent of starting right away (i.e. Jeff Otah). Pitt does need help on the line, but one of the silver linings of this past season, is that a number of other players started for the first time, or got accustomed to the new system. Siddoway might not be in a position to come in and start right away. If he was, perhaps there would be a higher priority put on him. Tavon Rooks is still out there as well, and Pitt is believed to be one of his finalists.

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