1) GepDawg: I read somewhere that a pro scout was shocked (in a bad way) at the type of OL that Pitt recruits. In your opinion, is there truth to that statement? Is there any hope this year's offensive line will be better than last year's? And, is there any promise of a real good class of OL coming in next year's (2005) recruiting class?
Guru: Pitt has not had a very talented offensive line or defensive line in a long time. Rob Petitti has been the best of the lot, and the most consistent. I think the red shirt freshmen from Ohio will be good in time, but to ask a kid that age to step in and be a standout is ridiculous it wont happen, it could but the odds are not good. John Simonitis stepped in last year and did a decent job, I think he is tough as nails and will be a good one. John Brown has already committed so that's a start, I think he will be a fine player. Pitt has to land some of the kids like Jason Kacinko, Eugene Monroe, Kevin Wiggins type kids who can come in and play early. The current incoming class I feel Dave Weber has the best shot at early playing time. Clowser and Robinson need to add strength and footwork.
2) Theoaklandzookeeper: Is Nate Hartung no longer considering Pitt?
Guru: Big Nate hasn't been getting much love from Pitt, I think they may be waiting until summer to see if he get's his weight down at all. Pitt doesn't have the luxury to be able to gamble as much as they have in the past with the limited number of scholarship's that are available. I think if Pitt shows a genuine interest in Nate he will be interested in them.
3) Themasterghoul: Is Pitt sending any coaches to the Football Camp at Giants stadium? If so, who? If not, why? It appears many Pitt targets will be there....
Guru: NCAA rules only allow coaches to watch a kid at one combine. For the most part Pitt coaches would be best served attending the Nike camp at Penn State due to the fact that most of their targeted prospects will be in attendance.
4) Theoaklandzookeeper: Pitt is currently recruiting some juniors who attend school together. Will the connections at the same school reap success in 2004 for Pitt? To your expert knowledge, are any of the listed pairs interested specificially in attending the same school? Do some of them want to make sure they end up at different schools?
Guru: Last year the signing of Vernon Smith helped lure Kelvin Chandler, this holds true every year especially with out of town kids they have to spend the next 4-5 years of their life at the college that they choose, so to some it's important to be around other's from their home area. When I speak to kids from Plantation or Buchtel that is one of the first things that they mention are the players from their school that are currently at Pitt. The only kids I have talked to who specifically would love to play together are the Buchtel boys Williams, Kersey, and Parrish. Pittsburgh could have all 3 in my opinion if they offer Kersey and Parrish.
5) Pitt25: What are your thoughts on recruiting two sport stars? Would you rather see a commit concentrate on one sport or are you ok with the idea of a player playing both football and basketball for example?
Guru: Obviously to play and contribute at the D-1 level in two sports you must be a phenomenal athlete, and these are kids that we need like Darrelle Revis and one of this years recruits Nyan Boateng. These kids are going to play both so if you don't let them some one will and you won't get them. The winter is a time that football players lift and get in shape for spring ball, with these kids practicing and running for basketball they are getting in shape and most of these type's of athletes are at skilled positions where weight training is not the number one priority. I think they should be able to as long as they can balance two sports, and an academic course load.
6) Theoaklandzookeeper: NY running backs Neil Lewis and Raymell Rice seem to be identical in size and speed. Their college interests have some big time programs listed. Are they strictly tailbacks and do you see a Panther made out of one of these kids?
7) Goldenboy1234: understand that there's a new training technique being implemented at the high schools (mostly in the south) based upon the regiment used by some of the South American soccer team, Brazil's in particular (hence its name, the Brazilian technique). I understand it's designed combine both speed and stamina, and is really resulting in a change in the way the game is played (mostly for the skill people). From what I am told, the regiment is pretty exhausting, and you need to keep it up or you quickly lose the gains. Is there any way to ask the recruits about the Brazilian technique? Particularly, did they ever do Brazilian, is it as painful as people say, and how often do they have to do it?
Guru: I am still researching this.
8) Theoaklandzookeeper: we have recruited some huge OL who have not panned out/were not highly recruited at all.
Do you think Craig Bokor, as a smaller guy, could play OL for Pitt? He seems to have what those other guys are missing? Could he help immediately?
Guru: If you stand behind Craig and look at the width of his shoulders he isn't necessarily small. I see Craig as a Chris Hovan-type of player. I'm sure in an urgent situation they could use him on offense but we need DL also. I can't say they haven't all panned out Simonitis, DeLuca, McGlynn, and Vangas are all still young.
9) Forpitt: Who in your mind are the top 5 recruits (if any) you believe Walt must have for it to be a successful recruiting year.
Guru: One was Larod Stephens he gives Pittsburgh a weapon that they haven't had in Walt's tenure. Jason Kacinko is a must get he's a hometown kid, who is a prototype RT. Bill Stull I like him better than Morelli, and I think if Pitt doesn't offer him they will regret it later on, much like Bruce Gradowski but maybe worse. Nyan Boateng is so physically gifted and Pitt's best recruiter in any sport is "Slice" is on the job so we have a chance. Rico McCoy could play at OLB right now, he likes Pitt but can they close the deal? We need 4-5 OL so if he doesn't land 4-5 decent recruits especially as deep as this class is it will be a failure.
10) Theoaklandzookeeper: How much of Nyan Boateng's decision is based on basketball? Is he good enough to have a spot on Jamie Dixon's roster? Will he definitely play both wherever he goes? Does Pitt's basketball program help with him or hurt?
Guru: Let's just say Basketball at Pittsburgh is the only reason we have a legitimate chance of landing Nyan. Nyan is good enough to be on any roster in the country in both sports. He will definitely play both, unless he feels he can't handle it.
11) PantherinWV: On average, would you say that a high number of recruits who go the prep school route eventually end up at the school they signed the LOI for, or do most end up elsewhere?
Guru: Pittsburgh has had a very high success rate at retaining kids who have committed and gone on to prep school. On a national level I'm not sure what the numbers are but I know Pitt has had no problems with it.
12) Theoaklandzookeeper: Who do you see as the starting linebackers in September?
Guru: Clint Session, HB Blades, and Brian Bennett are who I think will be there. I won't count out the McKillop boys though. Vernon Smith was more highly touted than Session or Blades and if he is able to play he may surprise some folks.
13) Pittparade: Now that it appears that Vernon Smith may be eligible this fall to play football at Pitt, is it possible to find out his actual size? Insiders and Rivals both list him over 6' feet tall, while the official site list Smith at 5'11. I assume he is or will play somewhere in the neighborhood of 225 lbs. as a frosh. Do you think he will be red shirted even if he is eligible?
Guru: The number I have for Vernon is disconnected, so I have been unable to find out if he is or isn't eligible. I'd say he is closer to 5-11 very similar stature to Clint Session. I would think it would be tough to keep him off the field but we seem to be deep at LB so a red shirt could be a possibility.
14) Theoaklandzookeeper: Of the elite recruits you talk to, what is their perception of Walt Harris?
Guru: I have yet to talk to any recruit that doesn't like Walt and his staff. The staff and the facilities are the two things I hear about most. These kids really like the Pitt coaching staff.
15) GepDawg: Who might be red shirted for football this year and why?
Guru: Darrel Strong if he stays at QB because we have 3 already. Robbie Agnone was recruited as a TE and was a high school QB so he'll need work. At least 2 of the lineman on offense. One of the WR's and one of the RB's. I can only speculate because it all depends on injuries and depth come August. Ask me again in August.
16) Theoaklandzookeeper: In the staff's mind, who are the top
cornerback prospects still considering Pitt?
Guru: I don't know what the staff's mind consists of, I can tell you who I think is. Bryan Williams and Michael Ray Garvin.
17) Buccoboy: Any new news on the Yough kid, Ben McCauley?
Guru: The last story I saw on our Network 2 days ago, it didn't even mention Pitt. What's the worst that can happen we don't get him and end up with another superstar from NYC?
18) Theoaklandzookeeper: WR DeSean Jackson seems to be drawing some top-notch programs, including USC, Texas, FSU, Michigan and Nebraska. It does show that Pitt has moved up, to be named with recruits like him. In this particular case, what draws a CA kid to have interest in Pitt, and do you think he'll visit Pitt?
19) NJBob: Are you aware of any JUCOs that Pitt is seriously recruiting? It would seem like a few top JUCOs could "fill in some gaps" for us (i.e. OL, RB, WR, DL). Most top programs do this.
Guru: I have heard Ron Hill I believe is his name from Penn Hills he was a hell of a DE and went to a JUCO school in Georgia. I have heard from some that Michael Simmons the elder brother of Chris Taft may be getting a look. I like the JUCO kids and Pitt has dropped the ball on many Bryant McKinnie and Tyler McMeans are two of the more prominent one's I can recall.
20) Theoaklandzookeeper: Do you think we will have a good recruiting year in terms of defensive backs?
Guru: We are as deep as ever so basically we are adding depth; unless we get Garvin then that's a different story. He could be a shut down corner from day one. Pitt seems to be playing this very carefully they have not offered many DB's that I know of so if we get any of the one's they have offered it will be a success.
21) PantherinWV: What is the difference between prep school and junior college?
Guru: Prep School or a Postgraduate program a player can go there for a semester or a whole year and not lose any eligibility. Most attend PG programs to raise their GPA's or get better test scores, some go to get more experience to re-enter the recruiting process. Junior College is a two-year program that counts towards your 4 years of eligibility.
22) Theoaklandzookeeper: PA RB Marlon Bayard is small, listed online at 5-7. However, right below in his profile, it says he was 5-3 at the Nike camp. Big difference. Is one of the figures a mistake?
Guru: Marlon is 5'7" according to Wyoming Head Coach Paul Marranca
23) Skeptic Skank: How do you see the Big East this year?
Guru: This year I'd say WVU is the team to beat. I think we will contend and can beat any of the other teams but so can they, I see a lot of parody in the league. Rutgers is building a program and people better watch out they are doing some good things there. My prediction 1-WVU, 2-Pittsburgh, 3-Connecticut, 4-Rutgers, 5-Syracuse. Of course this is reverse psychology and I think Pitt will win the conference but I am a jinx so if I say WVU, I figure we'll have a shot.
24) Theoaklandzookeeper: Anything new on Eugene Monroe? Pitt is not listed in his top 6, headed by favorite Virginia. Is there any hope?
Guru: Eugene has around 40 offers, Maryland was a favorite, now it's Virginia, this stuff changes all the time. He know's Pitt needs lineman who doesn't. He is just taking his time and sorting everything out right now. We just need to be patient and hopefully we can get him hear for a visit.
25) PantherinWV: What is a gray shirt?
Guru: A gray shirt is given based on medical needs. Donald Brooks was in a car wreck when he came to Pitt he was given a gray shirt. It doesn't count against the 85 scholarships that each school is limited to. As far as the rules and criteria I will find out and have it for next week's question and answer session.
26) Theoaklandzookeeper: What is up with commit Corey Davis? What is his size these days? What position does he want to play? What position do you think he'll play?
Guru: At the Blue Chip junior day scrimmage and the spring game, I'd say Corey is over 300 lbs. I think he'll end up as a Tyre Young type of DT.
Thanks for your participation in our third segment of Q&A with our Guru, Bob Lichtenfels. Remember folks, this weekly session can't happen without you. Keep those questions coming.
Thanks again, Wille.