Panthers prepare for huge recruiting weekend

The University of Pittsburgh football staff will host a myriad of upper echelon recruits over the next two weeks. Nine recruits will arrive in Pittsburgh on Friday to take part in official visits. The PantherDigest.com takes a quick look at the visitors.

The University of Pittsburgh's 2006 football season revealed a disparity in talent between Pitt and the top programs in the Big East (West Virginia, Louisville, etc.). Head Football Coach Dave Wannstedt and his coaching staff are preparing to host a myriad of blue-chip recruits over the next two weeks. They hope to complete their 2007 recruiting class and further close the talent gap.

The PantherDigest.com takes a quick look at the weekend visitors.

CHRIS JACOBSON ~ Keystone Oaks HS (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scout.com ranks Jacobson (6-foot-3 inches, 295 pounds), known as "Lumpy", the 4th best guard in the nation and a "four-star" recruit. Chris was the first player to join the Panthers 2007 recruiting class. He is the personification of everything Coach Wannstedt and Coach (Paul) Dunn want in an offensive lineman. A rather gregarious fellow off the field, Jacobson is known for his physicality and mean streak on the football field. He's talented enough to push for a starting position as a freshman.

Publisher's Note : Bob Lichtenfels and I watched Jacobson closely during the one-on-on drills at our Scout.com All-American combine in Pittsburgh, PA. Lumpy manhandled every defensive lineman that lined up across from him. On two separate occasions, he lifted the player off the ground pancaked them. Lightning fast defensive end Tony Tucker, another weekend visitor, was the only player to truly challenge him. Their one on one drill was considered a stalemate.

TONY TUCKER ~ St. Johns College HS (Washington, D.C.)

Scout.com ranks Tucker the 22nd best defensive end in the nation and a "four-star" prospect. Tony (6-foot-3 inches, 225 pounds) is an undersized defensive end that compensates for lack of bulk with blazing speed. He has completed a visit to Virginia Tech (11/25) and visits Georgia Tech next weekend (12/8). Rumor has that it that his final decision may come down to Pitt and Clemson. Tony has yet to visit Clemson and he may do so in early January.

KYLE HUBBARD ~ St. Edwards HS (Lakewood, OH)

Scout.com ranks Hubbard the 23rd best tight end in the nation and a "three-star" recruit. Kyle recently chose Pitt over Minnesota, Kentucky, Kent State, Bowling Green and Akron. The 6-foot-5 inch, 225 pound physical specimen is a versatile athlete that happens to be close friends with standout Pitt lineman Joe Thomas. Hubbard will be utilized as a wide receiver and tight end in the Panthers offense.

JABAAL SHEARD ~ Hollywood Hills HS (Hollywood, FL)

Scout.com ranks Sheard the 35th best defensive end in the nation and a "three-star" recruit. The 6-foot-4 inches, 245 pound pass rusher claims to be down to Pitt, Rutgers and Auburn. He has set a visit to Rutgers next weekend (12/8) and Auburn in early January (1/12). Sheard has admitted that he's enamored with the Miami (FL) and the Hurricanes could become an instant factor if they offer him a scholarship. Sheard happens to be close friends with massive offensive tackle Branden Curry (6-foot-6 inches, 300 pounds) from Lauderdale Lakes, FL. Pitt and Florida State happen to be co-leaders for Curry's services. Sheard and Curry want to play together and Pitt appears to be their best option.

MYLES CARAGEIN ~ Keystone Oaks HS (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scout.com ranks Caragein the 36th best defensive end in the nation and a "three-star" recruit. Myles committed to the Panthers over the summer. He had over 20 scholarship offers. Caragein is a devastating pass rusher than happens to double as an outstanding heavy weight wrestler. At a stout 6-foot-1 ½ inches and 265 pounds, many people believe he make the transition to defensive tackle.

ZACCHAEUS BROWN ~ Royal Palm Beach HS (Royal Palm Beach, FL)

Scout.com ranks Brown the 65th best running back in the nation and a "three-star" prospect. Brown (5-foot-10 inches, 200 pounds) is a physical north-south runner that talks very highly of Coach Wannstedt. He holds over a dozen scholarship offers but he narrowed his list to Pitt and Wisconsin. He visited the Badgers in early October. Brown happens to be fairly good friends with Pitt wide receiver T.J. Porter. Despite splitting carries with Wake Forest recruit Brandon Pendergrass, the "Zach attack" rushed for over 1,200 yards this season.

GREG WILLIAMS ~ Barron Collier HS (Naples, FL)

Scout.com ranks Williams the 68th best running back in the nation and a "three-star" recruit. He appears to be down to Pitt and West Virginia. Greg visits the Mountaineers next weekend. A fast and versatile athlete, Williams is capable of playing a number of positions including running back, linebacker and cornerback. He participates in basketball and track. At 6-foot-2 inches, 210 pounds, Greg has a well-muscled frame capable of adding weight.

CAMERON HOLLAND ~ Perry Traditional Academy (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scout.com ranks Holland the 78th ranked offensive guard in the nation and a "three-star" recruit. Die-hard Panther fans are familiar with Holland's story. The 6-foot-3 inch, 290 pound guard had two primary offers early in the season: Pitt and North Carolina. Despite leaning heavily towards the Panthers for quite some time, he visited North Carolina and chose the Tar Heels shortly after his visit. After the dismissal of Head Football Coach John Bunting, Holland opted to take a second look at the Panthers. Cameron is a physical and mobile lineman with tremendous potential. He's capable of playing guard and center on the next level. Holland's close friend Aundre Wright (Milford Academy-New Berlin, NY) recently committed to Pitt.

Publisher's Note : Opinions vary on Holland but I believe he's an excellent prospect. I was once told by two very astute college coaches that you evaluate linemen primarily from "the waist down". Cameron has a great motor and he's highly mobile. I like his combination of size, speed and strength. The current crop of 2008 linemen looks somewhat slim. I would find room for him if possible.

BUDDY JACKSON ~ Cypress Bay HS (Weston, FL)

Anthony "Buddy" Jackson flew under the radar until he participated in the Dave Wannstedt Summer Football Camp in July. The slender but tough 6-foot-1 inch, 170 pound cornerback caught the attention of the coaching staff when he ran the forty-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. Buddy registered a broad jump of 10 feet, 11 inches shortly after. The coaching staff wasted little time offering a scholarship and Jackson wasted little time accepting the offer. He has since been pursued by a number of upper echelon programs but he has remained committed to Pitt. Jackson has drawn comparisons to current San Francisco 49er and former Panther standout Shawntae Spencer.

The PantherDigest.com will publish follow-up interviews with each recruit shortly after their visit. Stay tuned for details.

Harry G. Psaros can be contact at harrypsaros@msn.com.


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