Guru Grill Volume VI

Round 6 of questions and answers with Guru Bob Lichtenfels.

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1) GepDawg: Could Darrell Strong get significant playing time at TE this year?

GURU: Darrell signed with Pitt because they promised him he'd play QB.  If he doesn't, he'll probably transfer and go somewhere where he will get a shot at being a QB. If he gets bored with not playing and just wants to get on the field obviously then the circumstances may change.


2) PittFan78: Ben McCauley seems to have stopped mentioning us as a possibility. Has there been a cooling off from side, him or the staff?

GURU: Ben has stated from day one he likes Maryland. I don't see him being the right fit for the style of play that Pitt uses. I would rather have someone more athletic in the low-post. Most of the basketball experts think he'll be a power forward since he's getting bigger. I like New York kids, kids who play on a higher level, not kids from Pennsylvania. In football, I'll take a PA kid any day in hoops none for me.

3) Buccoboy: With the loss of Morelli, Johnson and Company last year, what's the alumni's and Athletic Dept's opinion of Walt Harris and his Staff?

GURU: I'm not a member of either, so I couldn't tell you.  I think Pitt is better off without Morelli and the problems with the baggage he carries. Johnson could've developed into a good back, but I am happy with Jennings and Mason. Any one who has ever watched AJ play will tell you he plays soft and he needs to learn to be more physical, but he is athletically gifted. The conference situation hurt Pitt more than anything else, but it's hard to argue that when Rutgers and West Virginia both had great classes and they play in the same conference. Pitt should've gone after Chad Henne or Jordan Steffy, instead they put all their eggs in Morelli's basket and got burned, hopefully learning a lesson during the fiasco.

4) Pitt25: How is Pete Carmichael doing (recruiting) in New Jersey? 

GURU: All of the recruits I have talked to really like Pete and the fact that he has coached in the NFL. I think the late start they got in New Jersey has hurt them. Can they recover? We shall see .

5) GepDawg: Why haven't we offered to Jose Cruz yet?  How could Walt not offer to a guy like this?  Are there other reasons not quite obvious yet?

GURU: I honestly believe the staff thought they could keep him a secret until camp. Until he went to Metro-Index and blew up in front of scouts. Now it puts Pitt in a situation where if they don't offer soon, they could lose him. In my opinion I think an offer will find it's way to Jose soon. Jose loves Pitt and I think he'd commit soon after getting offered.

6) PinePanther: There's some talk about Pitt playing some Big 10 teams in the near future. I know MSU is coming up in a few years. Have you heard of any other teams we are in discussions with, excluding PSU?

GURU: Michigan State is the only Big Ten team I have heard. I did hear just the other day that Akron offered to play Pitt at home this season and Pitt declined. That's just what I heard. Instead Pitt chose to play Furman.

7) Pitt1999: Why is Penn State so bad in football?

GURU: PSU has had trouble recruiting skill players. They always get LBs and OL, but they need better WRs, I don't care if they do have Morelli.  Whom does he throw to? The Big Ten is a tough Conference and it's hard to compete against Michigan and Ohio State. Joe Paterno was a great coach and I respect him, but I really do think he needs to hand over the reigns to someone else. I know the PSU faithful think within 2 years they are going to contend for a National Championship. I just don't see it. They can bash Pitt all they want and our conference, but if you look at it we have a much easier road to the BCS than PSU does.

8) CaptainH: When do the infamous rankings of the prospective recruits come out?

GURU: They should be coming out in June

9) GoldenBoy1234: Is it true that Rhoades will be employing some new coverage schemes for the DB's.

GURU: Let me call him and ask, just kidding. I'm sure he is always tweaking the coverage's based on the skill and the ability of his team and the match ups they face each week. Do you really think if he's going to make changes he's going to announce it to anyone?

10) BurghGuy68: What about the Bova kid at FB from Baldwin, any interest from Pitt on him? 

GURU: He is strong, but a 5.0 forty time that he ran at Nike-PSU is a little slow. FB is not a huge need for Pitt right now.  I'm sure they'll keep an eye on him.

11) CaptainH:  How is it determined what interest level a prospect has in a specific school and what causes this level of interest to get changed?

GURU: The prospect tells whoever interviews him who he likes and what the interest level is.  Sometimes they'll email me and say here are my current favorites. This will change if schools show them less interest or more interest.  If they offer or not, or a recruit may love a school, go there for a visit and change his mind.

12) Oakland Zookeeper: James McKinney, one of the nation's best, are we going send some mail to this kid?

GURU: It's huge for a big time player like McKinney, who has all those offers; to actually say he'd like to hear from Pitt. I personally don't understand why he hasn't heard from them already.

13) PantherinWV: Any updates on eligibility of Revis, Bokor, Smith, etc.??

GURU: I just did an article on Revis he is close and retaking his SAT on June 5th, Bokor only needed to finish the school year with a GPA of 2.0, I will talk with him this week or next. Smith I have still not been able to contact.

14) Pittparade: Do you see any chance of recruiting JUCO lineman for next season?

GURU: I would think we should've gone after some this season, there are enough good lineman around that Pitt is recruiting that we will get at least 4-5 of them this class. I also think the young kids from Ohio will develop into studs Vangas, DeLuca, and McGlynn.

15) CaptainH: Of the current class of incoming freshmen, who do you feel is most likely to not be red-shirted and who do you feel will almost definitely be red-shirted?

GURU: Who do I think will be Agnone? 1-2 of the wide receivers, 2 or maybe all 3 linemen, possibly 1 of the RBs. I will have to see who is eligible first, so ask me this question in another month.

16) PinePanther: How many "stars" would you give our current verbals? How many stars do you think the "experts" will give them?

GURU: LaRod I'd give 3 stars and John Brown 3 stars. LaRod has the talent of a 5-star but his size will keep him to a 3 and I think the "experts" will give him 3. Brown will be playing OT this year and he has always been a TE, he is considered a raw prospect. I have watched him workout so that's why I say 3 stars, I think the "experts" will give him 2 stars because he's raw.

17) GepDawg: Where do you see Darrell Strong ending up: QB or TE?

GURU: See question and answer number one.

18) PinePanther: Do you know anything about the lawsuit with NIKE?

GURU: I don't know the specifics of it. Mmy guess is it's about money and or power.  Why else does anyone get sued?

19) GoldenBoy1234: What is the difference (or is there) between a team running a freeze option and a regular option?

GURU: In the Freeze option the QB rides the FB into the line of scrimmage, the better the ride the better the "Freeze". The idea is to get as many of the defenders to "Freeze" or step to the FB as possible. First the FB has to be established as a weapon to allow this to work. Whether the QB gives to the FB or keeps for an option is determined on the play call, say it's a 30 freeze option if the "B" gap defender comes across the line of scrimmage then the FB will get the Ball, if the read man usually the play side DE pinches or closes down on the FB then the QB will keep and run the option with the TB. There is far more to the option than this but it's too much to write here. There are so many different types of options freeze, midline, veer, lead, belly, counter, spread, wishbone, trap, flex bone, triple, slide, load, power, no-back, g-option, etc…

20) CaptainH: Are the colleges, high school coaches or players the prime source for this (verbal commitment) information?

GURU: I have gotten all of my commitments from the players who have called me and told me they were committing. Sometimes a coach will call and give you a heads up that the player has committed then I'll follow up with the player.

21) SkepticSkank: I thought Jason Gwaltney was the next Herschel Walker, the top RB in the country, a top 10 prospect overall. What happened??

GURU: I think he is one of the best in the country, but I didn't do the rankings so I couldn't tell you why he's not.

22) GepDawg/Brooksy3/Pittparade:  Please tell me that Pitt is planning to offer a scholarship to Bill Stull. Are they planning to offer? When? And will he accept, or are there other strong suitors as well? 

After watching his game tape, Pitt better make him their prime target at QB this year. Why they haven't offered yet, it's obvious he could be an NFL player?

If QB prospect Bill Stull does not participate at the Pitt camp next month will he be automatically eliminated from receiving an offer from Harris and staff?

GURU: I think Pitt should have offered him by now; he is the best in the state and in their backyard. He and Dom Natale are both arguably the best in this part of the country. Walt knows QB's so maybe he likes someone else or see's something we as fans don't. I have said he's better than Morelli, his arm may not be as strong but I like all the other parts of his game better. There are plenty of other suitors for Stull, I think Stull would consider Pitt because of the offense and he'd thrive in it, but how excited can the kid get when he has all these other offers and none from Pitt? Billy is a great kid I have had the pleasure of meeting he and his father they are first class people and I'd be all over him if I were Pitt, but I'm not a recruiting coordinator so my opinion doesn't really matter. I do think they'll offer him at camp.

23) Brooksy3: Jerry Butler? Any news on this kid? The 4.19 forty stands out to me. Seems to be the same size as LaRod, so I don't know if Pitt wants to go after him.

GURU: You always have to consider productive kids, especially with that kind of speed. Jerry really just got on the radar. Wisconsin is after him very hard.

24) Oakland Zookeeper: Louis Woodland position? He looks like a nice prospect. Are we are still in the running for prospects at his positions who are as good or better than him? Do you think he could make a safety? What position are we recruiting him for?

GURU: I would say DE I haven't seen very many 6'4" safeties lately. He likes Pitt and I'm not sure that the other DE's really do.

25) CaptainH: Could someone misinterpret a coach's comment and feel that a verbal offer was made when it wasn't?

GURU: It's very possible; I believe such was the case with Kevin Wiggins. I have talked to recruits that say they have a verbal offer and never get the written one it's a protection implement for them they can say they are offering to keep the kid's interest but they can also change their mind if they are looking in a different direction.

26) Oakland Zookeeper: Kalvin Bailey is a good running back from Florida. 4A first teamer last year and lead Armwood to a state title. Didn't find anything about him on here. Any info?

GURU: I am working on an interview with Kalvin, hopefully this week.

27) PantherDen: David Harvey, do we have any chance? You would think WR's would jump at the chance to play here. Do you think the AM situation from last year will work against us?

GURU: I asked David at a recent combine about Pitt and he shook his head (no). I just think he wants to get out of state. I don't think the Morelli situation matters much to him. I have heard from people very close to David that have told me he and Morelli aren't even close, and many area people are trying to talk him into going to Pitt because of the system and they think he can become a star and that Michigan is loaded at WR. It will be interesting to say the least.

28) NJBob: We seem to be "in the running" for more top ranked recruits than ever (at least under Walt). How many do we have a serious chance to sign? I'm getting the feeling that we'll wind up as the 3rd or so choice for most of these kids and then have to scramble to fill the class with a lot of "maybes."

GURU: If we compete for the BCS bid we have a shot, just like last year if we beat Miami we'd have ended up with a Top 10 class. Pitt needs a closer on it's staff, there are lot's of new faces so we will have to wait and see. If you follow recruiting this is the same every year, the first few months Pitt is in their Top 5 then during the season they aren't.

29) SCPittFan: How much of an effect will Andy Alleman have at DT?

GURU: I like Andy and his energy; If he gets strong enough I think he can be a force at DT. He will have to battle for playing time.

30) CaptainH:   When and how are prospects updated as far as having a scholarship offered?

GURU: Usually the high school coach will get a call and say hey we are going to offer so and so, and then the coach will tell the player. Then the offer will come in the mail or by Fed EX, sometimes the player will get an offer without any prior notice

31) SCPittFan: Charles Spencer makes about one big play a game. Any idea why this physical stud of a specimen isn't more consistent?

GURU: Look at Mathias Nkwenti who was with the Steelers he was a specimen and never did anything it happens, maybe a lack of drive or willingness to succeed, or in layman's term lack of heart and desire.

32) Pitt1999: I believe the Pitt defense will actually be better this year than last due to the amount of players that actually got to play last year. One guy who really didn't and you said that you were impressed with his spring was Michael Hearn. I looked at this guy 6'6, 265lbs and thought what a beast. Was he Claude Harriott's backup...did he red shirt...what's his deal?

GURU: He red shirted in 2003, he has gotten bigger and learned the system. I think he'll compete for time and be a star before he leaves Pitt.



Thanks for your participation in the Guru Grill.  Please submit questions for next week in the Pitt forums.

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