Pitt Recruiting In Homestretch

The Pitt football team currently has 14 verbal commitments, and the Panthers could go as high as 20 total to sign in its 2008 class depending on final transfers and attrition.

Remember, the Panthers can only sign a maximum of 25 each year and can have at most 85 players on scholarship when training camp begins in August.

Among the 14, center Robb Houser from Butte junior college in Oroville, Calif. and quarterback Greg Cross from Fort Scott JC in Kan. have already signed and will enroll in January. Another verbal, wideout Ronald Hobby from Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Md., has completed his scholastic requirements and will enroll in January as well. All three will practice in the spring.

This is huge for Pittsburgh because Houser and Cross are expected to compete for starting jobs immediately. The Panthers have a void at center, as fifth-year senior Chris Vangas has graduated, and the quarterback spot was the most inconsistent for Pitt with freshman Pat Bostick, redshirt frosh Kevan Smith and junior Bill Stull all getting game action. Bostick finished the year as the starter.

Hobby, however, must still officially sign his letter-of-intent Feb. 6, 2008 with the other commitments. They are wideout Jonathan Baldwin from Aliquippa, Pa. HS; quarterback Tino Sunseri from Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS; wideout Michael Shanahan from Norwin HS in North Huntingdon, Pa.; quarterback Zack Stoudt from Coffman HS in Dublin, Ohio; running back Cameron Saddler from Gateway HS in Monroeville, Pa.; place-kicker Kevin Harper from Mentor, Ohio HS; offensive tackle Ryan Turnley from Hopewell, Pa. HS; offensive tackle Lucas Nix from Thomas Jefferson HS in Jefferson Hills, Pa.; safety Manny Williams from Clairton, Pa. HS; running back Chris Burns from Wilmington HS in New Wilmington, Pa.; and cornerback Antwuan Reed from Johnstown, Pa. HS.

Other prospects include linebacker-defensive end Shayne Hale, Saddler's teammate from Gateway HS; cornerback Jarred Holley from Easton, Pa. HS; tight end Mike Cruz from Bishop McCort HS in Johnstown, Pa.; linebacker Roosevelt Maggitt from William T. Dwyer HS in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; defensive end Jeff Hutchison from West Boca Raton, Fla. HS; cornerback Andrew Taglianetti, tight end Quentin Williams and defensive end Dan Vaughn from Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS; linebacker Steve Gardiner, Stoudt's teammate at Coffman HS; wideout A.J. Alexander from Altoona, Pa. HS; wideout Vaughn Carraway from Muhlenberg HS in Laureldale, Pa.; defensive tackle Charles Deas from Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y.; cornerback Isaiah Pead from Eastmoor Academy HS in Columbus, Ohio; defensive end Mikhail Marinovich, former NFL QB Todd Marinovich's brother, from Milford Academy; and linebacker Doug Rippy from Madison HS in Trotwood, Ohio.

Pitt needs to get a tight end to complete its offensive recruiting and is looking at all areas on defense as well. Gardiner had hoped for an offer from Ohio State, but the Buckeyes want him to grayshirt. Stoudt is trying to get him to commit to the Panthers. Deas never visited Pitt and has committed to Auburn, which he will officially visit, but he is still undecided. Carraway is a recruit at a loaded position. Pead wants to play offense, but Pitt wants him on defense. Marinovich is looking hard at Miami, but he is also undecided. Rippy committed to Colorado, after decommitting from Nebraska, and he might not be done changing as well.

The Panthers are working hard on all the other players with Hale, Holley, Cruz, Florida players Maggitt and Hutchison, Central Catholic stars Vaughn, Williams and Taglianetti, Alexander and Gardiner the top priorities. Taglianetti is a possible grayshirt candidate.

Wideout Marcus Sales from Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y. just announced that he will sign with his hometown Orange. Running back Averin Collier, Pitt redshirt sophomore tailback Kevin Collier's brother from Churchville-Chilli in Churchville, N.Y., is also expected to commit to Syracuse this week. Pitt is among the final schools for both players, but the Panthers are loaded at both of their positions. Pitt was looking at Collier as a defensive player, but he wants to be a running back in college.

Pitt's final big recruiting weekend before signing day with 15 official visits expected will center on the Panthers basketball game against Seton Hall Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

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