Guru Grill Volume XVIII

Welcome Panther fans to another installment of the Guru Grill. Big East Recruiting Analyst Bob Lichtenfels provides an in-depth opinion of issues surrounding the Pittsburgh football team, and recruiting. No Flak Jacket or helmet is required.

  • 1.) Daboman- How is L. Stephens doing this year and does he have a chance to make an early impact next year at Pitt?

Guru: LaRod is well over 1,000 yards once again; he is playing well on both sides of the ball. It often gets lost that he is a very good defensive back as well. LaRod was held under 100-yards for the first time this season during last Friday's upset loss to Bishop McCort. I see LaRod having a big impact at Pitt next year, it's obvious that the Panthers lack an explosive, reliable weapon in the return game and that is an area LaRod can help at immediately. Stephens is threat to score from anywhere on the field.

  • 2.) TheMasterGhoul- I have a question...For all of this negative stuff surrounding the program and Harris leaving... You guys that talk to the recruits, do they ever mention it? How much is it holding our recruiting season up?

GURU: It's mentioned at times, parents are usually more concerned than recruits are about it. It's definitely a factor for the majority of recruits, they may make a decision based upon this current staff, and then they have to think well what will the new staff do? The new staff may not know much about that recruit. It doesn't happen often, but it did at Cincinnati last year when Mark Dantonio was hired, he rescinded all the offers the previous staff had out, and the commitments that they had. Pitt has gems in Stephens, John Brown, Williams, Dominic Jones, and Derrell Jones. Irvan Brown is a very productive RB, and a tremendous athlete. Marlon Terry may be on the bubble he was tremendous in camp but due to his leg injury he has not really produced in high school, Rashaad Duncan is another who could be on the bubble if another staff were brought in. In the end no matter what happens I think all of this years recruits will be safe.

  • 3.) Kickerzdad- With Josh Cummings being a senior next season are the Panthers seriously recruiting kickers for the 2005 season or do you think they will wait until 2006? If they are looking whom do you think they have a shot at for 2005 or who would be a good choice for 2006? Anyone local? Also, how has kicker Conner Lee looked so far?

GURU: When I spoke to Merf Trout he stated he had an offer from Pitt; I have since spoke to someone close to the program and he said Pitt hasn't and will not offer a kicker this year, so who knows? Matt Lichtenstein the junior kicker from Gateway could be a target next year. Lee will be the kicker of the future, as long as he continues to progress the way he has. One scenario that could play out is Hopewell senior K/P Anthony Piccirilli could end up as a walk-on. Piccirilli is definitely worth someone giving him a scholarship, but if no one does he could end up in Oakland.

  • 4.) NJBob- any word on how the freshmen WRs (other than Chandler) are looking? I assume all but Richardson are being red shirted.

    Is there any possibility that Brinson could be moved from CB to WR? We appear to have better depth at CB than WR unless the red shirt freshmen all develop.

GURU: Don't forget about Strong, he has to be considered a WR now. I haven't heard much about any of the freshmen since camp. I could be mistaken but I'm pretty positive that Derek Kinder saw some action in the first two games. Broussard and Pestano seem to be safe bets to red shirt provided the receiving corps suffers no more injuries.

As for Brinson, red shirt freshmen can be moved anywhere based on need. He was a decent RB in high school but had a little case of fumblitis at times. I see him as more of a safety.

  • 5.) SkepticSkank- Tough question, but it should be obvious to everyone the current verbals and targets will have a different staff come end of year. What affect negatively and or positively does the Guru think this may have on not just verbals but other targets? For example, Ed Collington seems miffed Pitt got involved so late, with a new staff, would he be more forgiving?

GURU: Again fans make more of these issues then recruits do. There are some who would look at Pitt differently with a new staff, some would see it as a good thing, and others would see it as a bad thing. Remember if you read my articles on the commitments they all like Walt Harris, he is a draw to more recruits then he is detraction to others.

Player's such as Collington may be more lenient; Collington is in the situation he is in because of academics more than anything else. Schools like West Virginia will allow their programs to take partial qualifiers, Pittsburgh will not. Vaughn Rivers and Eric Wicks are two prime examples of this. Fans get mad and think that Pitt didn't recruit this guy or that guy, but the bottom line is sometimes the school puts the program in a bind, but everyone points the finger at the coach.

  • 6.) CaptainH- What needs to be done to reconnect with the Western PA coaches and recruits for the future?

GURU: A recruiting coordinator with Western PA roots would be a huge help. I'm not sure the current staff can heal the wounds that have been made. It may be a matter of a new staff coming in and starting fresh. The coaches are tired of their players being ignored, while marginal kids from other states are pursued. There is a group of elder statesmen in the WPIAL that loathe Pitt and they will until they retire, I don't care who is coaching here that trend will continue.

  • 7.) CaptainH- where did things go wrong with recruiting and Western PA and Pitt under the current coaching staff?

GURU: You have to remember when a lot of the kids Pitt has lost were young this program was absolutely atrocious, it has improved vastly over the last 4 years and I think the recruiting in the next 3-4 years will reflect that more kids will have an interest in Pittsburgh. If you are a teenage kid with no allegiance to Pitt and you have the opportunity to play at Ohio State, Miami, or Michigan, where would you go? Its easy for Pitt fans to say this kid should be here because it's the hometown team, but not everyone loves Pitt just because they are from Pittsburgh.

  • 8.) CaptainH- Given the issues surrounding the coaching staff this year, do you realistically see anyone committing to Pitt before there is more clarification as to who will be in charge in 2005? Any indicators as to where that individual(s) might be coming from position wise?

GURU: At this point most recruits are waiting to take official visits, so the majority of the verbals will be after that happens. There is a possibility Pitt may land a LB very soon.

  • 9.) Jester03-which is better: captain and coke or captain and Pepsi?

GURU: Beer, I don't often indulge in adult beverages I'm more an Iced tea guy, but I will say Captain and Coke.

  • 10.) CaptainH- who are the top 5 uncommitted (offered or not) recruits at any position you would most like to see commit to Pitt? What are Pitt's chances to get them?

GURU: LB Rico McCoy, RB Jason Gwaltney, OL Jason Kacinko, CB Justin King, OL Ronnie Wilson. I think people may be surprised by how much Gwaltney is seriously considering Pitt right now. Wilson would be a big get, and he is best friends with Clint Session. I see no shot with King. Kacinko and McCoy will be tough to land but not impossible.

  • Who are the top 5 uncommitted (offered or not) OL recruits you would most like to see commit to Pitt? What are Pitt's chances to get them?

GURU: Jason Kacinko, Kurt Mattes, Zack Anderson, Lawrence Green, and Jon Walko. Mattes and Anderson I believe will verbal, Green would if offered. Walko is from Maryland, but his father is from Windber and would be interested if offered, but it may be too late.

  • Who are the top 5 uncommitted and unoffered recruits you would like Pitt to offer? What are Pitt's chances to get them?

GURU: Bill Stull, Josh Miller, Lawrence Green, Charles Young, Ed Collington, and Fela-Tunde Ogun. Pitt would have a great shot if they offered.

  • Who are the top 5 recruits (offered or not) you will be most disappointed about if they do not end up at Pitt?

GURU: Ed Collington, Bill Stull, Lawrence Green, Josh Miller, and E.J. Morton Green.

  • 11.) GepDawg- Now that we have offered Shane Murray and still haven't offered Bill Stull, what are our chances of landing Murray and how do you compare him to Stull and the other QBs in this upcoming class?

GURU: Personally I see a lot of Tyler Palko in Shane Murray, he may not possess a cannon for an arm but he has all of the intangibles. Stull is a more polished passer. I like both kids and don't think they could go wrong with either. I see Murray being a Panther by the end of December.

  • 12.) GepDawg-What have you heard regarding Walt's status as the HC moving forward? If he is fired, do you think it will happen during OR at the end of the season?

    If he is fired, whom have you heard, or think has the best chance of being the next HC of the Panthers?

GURU: I'm not getting on the media bandwagon to publicly lynch Walt Harris, yes there are issues, and yes I was very disturbed by the "Fetal Slide" at UCONN. He has been a winner here he won 31 games in 4 years, you can't argue with success. I honestly think had AJ and Morelli stayed with Pitt no one would be saying anything about this situation.

I do think Harris needs to evaluate some members of his staff, and he needs to hire an offensive coordinator. I am just one who believes that contracts should be honored and he has two years left, I think they should either fire him now or say hey we are letting him finish out his current deal.

Remember a few years ago with all of the rumors about Walt going to Alabama? All of the Panther fans were in a tizzy, now they all want rid of him.

Thank you Panther fans for your participation in "The Guru Grill" and you continued patronage to

Panther More Top Stories