Over 200 blue-chip athletes were tested in the 40-yard dash, standing broad jump, 3-cone drill, shuttle run and vertical leap. The final hour of the combine consisted of one-on-one testing.
There were several players in attendance that held a scholarship offer from the University of Pittsburgh. I attempted to scrutinize these players along with special emphasis on offensive and defensive linemen. Pitt Head Football Coach Dave Wannstedt continues to rejuvenate both sides of the line.
Quarterback Pat Bostic (6-foot-3 ½ inches, 220 pounds) from Manheim Township High School in Lancaster, PA is generally considered one of the best, if not the best, prospect in the state of Pennsylvania. Head Coach Dave Wannstedt and staff have labeled him a high priority recruit. Pat did very little to disappoint. He has an exceptionally strong arm and I was highly impressed with him during drills. Matt Rodgers (6-foot-3 ½ inches, 185 pounds) from Seton-LaSalle High School in Pittsburgh, PA and Cody Catalina (6-foot-4 inches, 200 pounds) from Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg, PA were impressive as well. Bostic has a rifle for an arm. Rodgers and Catalina are not far behind. I believe Bostic may be down to Pitt and Michigan. There are a few other schools involved as well. I covered the recruitment of Larry Fitzgerald Jr. several years ago and labeled him a "franchise" recruit. It's safe to say Bostic can be given the same label.
If Pat Bostic is a "priority recruit" for the Pitt coaching staff, big Henry Hynoski (6-foot-2 ½ inches, 244 pounds) from Southern Columbia High School in Catawissa, PA is not far behind. Henry has a big, thick physique with tree trunks for legs. He reminds me of a young Mike Alstott. Coach Wannstedt wants to "run the rock" and he prefers larger running backs. Hynoski is exactly the type of player the staff has been looking for. He told me that Pitt was his current leader and prefers to make a final decision before the end of summer. I was impressed with him throughout the day. He's very nimble for a big man. Another running back that seemed to separate himself from the pack was Richard Walls (6-foot, 175 pounds) from Downingtown East High School in Exton, PA. Walls posted a forty-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds and I wasn't surprised. He simply appeared to be a step faster than most of the running backs in attendance. I believe he would make an excellent cornerback prospect as well. Keep your eye on this player.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Where do I begin? There was a tremendous amount of talent showcased last weekend at the wide receiver position. As expected, Toney Clemons (6-foot-3 inches, 185 pounds) from Valley Senior High School in New Kensington, PA did little to disappoint. He's not the most polished wide receiver, but he's an amazing athlete that's dripping with big time potential. Toney ran a 4.5 forty-yard dash and seemed to embarrass every defensive back that gave him an inch of cushion. He's a big timer. Nick Sukay (6-foot-2 ½ inches, 190 pounds) from Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg, PA personifies the term "blue-chip". He's very well built and very athletic. Like Clemons, he abused most of the defensive backs at the combine. I saw Pat Bostic throwing the ball to Sukay and I thought to myself, "It would be nice to se that combination in a Panther uniform." Clemons and Sukay have the ability to make an instant impact on the next level.
I watched Derek Moye (6-foot-5 inches, 170 pounds) from Rochester High School in Rochester, PA. Derek has already received an offer from the Panthers. He, like Clemons, is talented but raw. At 6-foot-5 inches and a mere 170 pounds, Derek is reed thin. It looks like a strong wind could knock him over. He has tremendous ability but needs to work on his physique. The top tight end at the camp was 6-foot4 inch, 205 pound Derek Drummond from Penn Hills High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Don't let his weight fool you. He's very tall and has broad shoulders. I assumed he weighted around 225 pounds. Derek is a very good athlete and I suspect Pitt's coaching staff will keep a close eye on him. He could easily weigh 245 pounds overnight and not lose a step. I was impressed with his performance throughout the day.
The University of Pittsburgh was fortunate to receive a verbal commitment from 6-foot-3 ½ inch, 291 pound Chris Jacobson from Keystone Oaks High School in Pittsburgh, PA. He was the best offensive lineman at the combine and a legitimate big timer. I knew he was talented, but he exceeded my expectations. Chris has a wide, thick build with little fat. I was a big C.J. Davis fan several years ago. They are "cut from the same cloth". I believe Jacobson will be a three to four year starter for the Panthers. He dominated the on-on-one drills.
Two additional linemen that separated themselves from the pack were Gino Gradkowski (6-foot-2 ½ inches, 285 pounds) from Seton-LaSalle High School in Pittsburgh, PA and Paul Simkovich (6-foot-4-inches, 296 pounds) from Greater Latrobe High School in Latrobe, PA. Gradkowski and Jacobson performed every drill side by side. He's a solid player with similar characteristics to Jacobson. Gino is quick off the ball and very physical. He has solid fundamentals and moves well. Big Gino told me the Panthers are one of his top teams. Jacobson lives a block from Gradkowski and he told me he will continue to recruit him. Simkovich is a big, physical lineman that moves very well for his size. "Big Red" is very athletic and an accomplished Hockey player. He was quick off the ball and physical. Paul was highly competitive during the one-on-one drills and was far from shy about lining up against anyone. He frequently jumped into the melee when no other linemen would volunteer. Simkovich told me he grew up a Penn State fan but he's basically wide open. He would like to take a closer look at the Panthers.
Three additional players to keep your eye on: 6-foot-4 inch, 275 pound Donny Barclay from Seneca Valley High School, 6-foot-6 inch, 285 pound Zac Kasparek from New Brighton High School in New Brighton, PA and 6-foot-5 inch, 291 pound Matt Ostrowski from Highlands High School in Natrona Heights, PA The Panthers need big, tall offensive tackle prospects. Donny, Zac and Matt already plan on attending Pitt's summer football camp.
Barclay looks far heavier than 275 pounds. He has a wide frame with little fat. I was impressed with his mobility and tenacity during the one-on-one drills. His close friend and future Panther, Kevan Smith, attended the combine and he's pushing to see him in a Panther uniform. Kasparek and Ostrowski are towering prospects with lengthy frames. Both players have their sights set on an offer from the Panthers.
If you're looking for two out of state prospects that separated themselves from the pack, look no further than massive Shawn Sailor (6-foot-7 inches, 300 pounds) from Maple Heights High School in Maple Heights, OH and Dan Barry (6-foot-4 inches, 285 pounds) from Mentor Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, OH. Sailor is a giant that displayed excellent technique and mobility. At a towering 6-foot-7 inches tall, he had a sizeable wingspan that frustrated several defensive linemen during one-on-one drills. Barry is a well-built lineman that moved exceptionally well through every drill. I thought he was one of the better athletes amongst the linemen in attendance.
Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at email@example.com.