A head-hunting linebacker of the future seems to be the largest focus group of the summer, as Dave Wannstedt and his coaching staff have extended offers to several big time linebacker prospects across the country.
Despite already nailing down a verbal commitment from 6-foot-2, 225 pound Dan Loheyde from Monroeville (Gateway, Pa), the Panthers continue to search the country for their second linebacker commitment.
Offers have been extended to talented backers Antonio Lowery (Columbus, FL), LB-Navorro Bowman (Suitland, MD), Parker Cantey (South Shore, NY), Greg Webster (Woodland Hills, PA), Akeem Hebron (Good Counsel, MD) and Nate Nix (Thomas Jefferson, PA). Of the group, the Panthers have made significant inroads with in-state studs Nate Nix and Greg Webster, both of whom have indicated they'd like to wait, but could ultimately make an early commitment to the Panthers.
"I'd say Pitt's ahead right now," the 6-foot-3, 210 pound Nix said recently, "but I'm not ready to make a decision just yet. I'm not too rushed right now."
Many are keeping their eyes focused on Greg Webster. Despite the lack of attention surrounding his recruitment, the star linebacker from Woodland Hills could become an instrumental part of the Panthers summer plans if he verbals early. Especially with the prospects of him making any school more attractive to Darrin Walls.
Considered by many to be the 'must' upgrade area after a disappointing season a year ago, the Defensive Line quickly progressed into becoming more of a comfort zone after Wannstedt's staff secured the verbal commitments of Scott Corson from Johnstown (Pa.) and John Malecki from Franklin Regional (Pa.) early on into the recruiting season.
The staff is far from done, however, as they hope to build off the early momentum and perhaps upgrade their line even more then they did in 2005.
The Panthers have offered Charles Deas from Boyd Anderson HS (Fla.), Tom McEowen from Neshaminy (Pa.) HS, Jason Adjepong from Carteret (NJ) HS, Maurice Evans Christ The King (NY) HS and Jason Pinkston from Baldwin HS in Pittsburgh (Pa).
All would fit the more impact defensive lineman the staff deemed as an area of importance, in particular Jason Pinkston, who could very well become a program changing recruit if the Panthers land his services.
Pinkston already has landed 18 scholarship offers, but recognizes that the Panthers might want him the most; "Pittsburgh is recruiting me the hardest right now, and I get handwritten letters from them in the mail pretty much every day," Pinkston was quoted as saying in a recent interview.
One can only hope that hard work pays off.
At this point, it's safe to say, the Panthers certainly don't feel the cornerback position is an immediate summer need, only offering three true cornerbacks in Darrin Walls (Woodland Hills, Pa), Kellen White (Riverview, FL) and Ricky Gary (Pahokee, FL) and three possible secondary switchovers in Justin Hargrove from Baldwin (Pa.), Lucas Caparelli from Fairfax (Va.) and Aaron Smith from Gateway, (Pa.).
At this point, Walls looks to be the biggest longshot to date according to reports. Despite hailing from nearby Woodland Hills, early indications have stated the standout defensive back is looking more towards Notre Dame and Michigan and less towards home-town Pitt.
That realization has left the two Floridians -White and Gary - as somewhat of the focal point of the summer, as the Pitt staff has made spring visits to their respective schools, already.
Of the two, White seems the most likely to possibly pulling the trigger early and accepting an offer from Pittsburgh. After putting up some impressive junior season numbers that garnered him All-State and All-Area honors, the 5-foot-11 White, hasn't received a ton of attention to date, landing his only written offer from Pitt to date.
"I really like Pitt," White said in his most recent update. "The coaches have been down to see me. It's a really good school, I'd say there's a good chance I'll go there."
Of the three remaining athletes that Pitt has offered, Caparelli appears set to be the hardest and least likely of the group. With a recent Virginia Tech offer in hand, many are saying it will be very difficult to pry him away from the in-state Hokies or Hoos.
Good news for Pitt fans is that he is taking a visit to Pittsburgh shortly.
Note: Several prospects can switch positions at the next level. We'll take a look at those prospects in our third installment.