Wannstedt Back From Recruiting Trail

PITTSBURGH -- Dave Wannstedt, heading into his third season as the head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and his staff have returned from the road and have completed their recruiting trips.

While Dave Wannstedt could not mention any specific names, he believed the Panthers were still in the running for all the top players on their list and also noted that solid backups were in place if the top guys don't come through.

"We had a good month and covered a lot of territory,'' Wannstedt said. "We probably spent a little more time in Ohio, in Akron, Canton and there are some good kids this year in Youngstown. I spent four days myself in the Northern Virginia and Maryland area.

"I was on the road most of the month, probably 17 days out of the 20, and it was good. I thought that we didn't spend as much time in these areas as we did in years past, and those were very productive years for us. Now, we'll get ready to get into our camps.''

Presumably, Wannstedt was referring to players like Jeannette, Pa. High School quarterback Terrelle Pryor, West Scranton, Pa. tight end Hubie Graham, Thomas Jefferson, Pa. lineman Lucas Nix, linebackers Shayne Hale from Gateway in Monroeville, Pa. and Brandon Beachum from Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, Ohio and Altoona, Pa. wideout A.J. Alexander. The majority of the recruiting talk, however, was off the record.

"I can tell you that we only won six games (last season and were 11-12 in two years), but people are still excited about Pitt football,'' Wannstedt said. "And that exciting. It's a lot of work, though, because I'm out there pounding (the pavement). Now, you know we can't discuss names, but we're in on all the top kids, and that's great. So, it's been going great.

"We have less scholarships this year than we've had, probably around 15, but there's probably more national kids here. USC, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Miami and Texas have all been in (Western Pa.). There are 4-5 kids who are being recruited nationally. But we'll get our share, and I think we're in it with all of them. But we're still battling the same issues.''

Wannstedt noted that the recruiting talk hasn't really surrounded wins and losses, although that could change if Pitt doesn't win more often this season, but most noted that the Panthers just don't sell out Heinz Field.

"We'll fill up the stadium,'' Wannstedt said. "If we get good teams, we'll fill it up. During Larry Fitzgerald's (final) year, we sold out every home game. ... So, as we get better as a team, (and) we're going to play a great schedule. When we get Notre Dame back on it. Maybe Penn State, who knows.

"But as far as recruiting goes, if a kid doesn't want business and isn't interested in the city (life) and wants to go (to a college) in the country, then don't come to Pitt. And that's what I tell them.''

The Panthers reportedly have just two verbal commitments to date. Wilmington, Pa. running back Chris Burns and Greater Johnstown, Pa. cornerback Antwuan Reed committed early to Pitt.

"We'll get another 4-5 guys and have 7-8 (committed) by June after the camps, and then we'll have another 7-8 to get next year (before signing day),'' Wannstedt said.

Wannstedt believed that if he can get a recruit to visit Pitt's campus, he has a good chance to sell them on it as well as the City of Pittsburgh. Another strong point is the coach's ties to the NFL, where he coached for some 15 seasons before returning to his alma mater.

"I think the whole Darrelle Revis thing was as much a positive as it was a negative for us,'' Wannstedt said. "I didn't want him to leave, but you owe it to the kid to tell them like it is. And he was ready for the NFL, so I helped him out in that respect as much as possible. And it worked out well for him.

"So, if you want to get to the next level, unless you're going to maybe Notre Dame or USC, there's no place and nobody that can prepare you better than I can. We had seven senior starters, and we got six into pro camps. That's three free agents and three draft picks. So, we're going to make sure that these kids graduate and get a job, in the business world or in the NFL.''

An early signing date has been discussed for football, and Wannstedt noted that he would support one in December -- after football season and before the dead period around the holidays. Then, he said, you can have some guys locked in and know where to spend the rest of the team's recruiting time leading up to the signing date.

And as far as eliminating text messaging goes, Wannstedt did not believe it would hurt Pitt since the majority of the players they recruit are within driving distance of campus, could be contacted through their coach via a letter and then come in for an unofficial visit. The only place that would be affected was the recruiting efforts in Florida.

But the Panthers have de-emphasized that area a bit this year to hit Ohio, Northern Virginia and Maryland a little harder.

Panther More Top Stories