Dave Wannstedt can recruit. That's a fact. And not just because Pitt fans say he can. It's not because he used to be a great recruiter back during his college coaching heydays of the eighties. And it's not because of his NFL pedigree.
Dave Wannstedt can recruit because he knows how to sell his program and he knows who to sell it to.
If you need any more reason for why some Pitt fans have started to call their head coach "the Recruitanator" then look no further than last week's verbal commitment from Manheim Township's quarterback Pat Bostick. Not only is Bostick one of the best quarterback prospects in the nation, he's also widely considered the best prospect in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Bostick could have gone anywhere he wanted in the country. In the end, he decided he wanted to be a Panther.
Dawg, how could this happen?
Well for one, Pitt's recruitment of Bostick seemed to be centered more on who he was as an individual than his considerable athletic and football skills. It's no secret that the highest profile high school players from any given year are generally treated as commodities throughout the whole recruiting process. Dave Wannstedt seems to be able to cut through all that and make these kids believe they are more than just a ranking. Part of that is because it's no secret that Wannstedt really separates himself from other head coaches by meeting with recruits first before offering a scholarship. Once Wannstedt was sure Bostick would be a good fit for Pitt and vice versa, he not only made him an offer, he made him his top priority target for 2007. Bostick was never a stranger at Pitt; in fact, he spent a considerable amount of time there and always seemed to fit right in. Wannstedt's priority in humanizing the recruiting process has definitely changed the way premium high school players, especially in Western Pennsylvania, view Pitt's football program.
Another factor that probably set Pitt apart was the fact that Pitt identified Bostick as the only quarterback they wanted and were going to recruit for 2007. I can imagine someone like Bostick, who was so sought over, being impressed with a particular program honing in only on him first and only for his position. Pitt was committed to him and him only. So even when it seemed early on like Bostick could go anywhere, potentially leaving the Panthers with a glaring hole at a need position, he always remained their sole target at quarterback. While other programs looked elsewhere, Pitt remained committed to Bostick only. It was a huge gamble, but one that paid huge dividends in the end.
Most importantly, Pitt was able to establish itself as a major player vying for Bostick very early on. In fact, the Panthers got involved so early that many of the other top programs potentially interested in him really had much of a chance of landing him even if they tried. It also didn't hurt that two potentially strong suitors, Penn State and Michigan, received high profile commitments at quarterback recently. Bostick might have always ended up at Pitt, but having two of favorites move in other directions really opened the doors for Bostick becoming a future Panther.
Whether fans of other schools like to admit it or not, Dave Wannstedt is definitely changing the landscape of recruiting not only at Pitt, but the whole Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well. It may have been twenty years since Pitt had a nationally recruited class like they did last year, but the Panthers will not have to wait twenty years for another one. With Bostick on board already for 2007, it's a good chance they won't have to wait even a year for its next.
Steve Gephart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Dawg House: May 15, 2006 This page © Copyright 2006, Steve Gephart.