Large Contingent To Visit Pitt This Weekend

Football recruiting efforts across the country are cranking into high gear, and Pitt is preparing for its final big weekend with 15 prospects expected to visit including attendance at the Panthers' basketball game against Seton Hall Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

Among those on the list for Pittsburgh this weekend, along with several who already have verbally committed, are wideout A.J. Alexander, Altoona, Pa. HS; linebacker Steve Gardiner, Coffman HS, Dublin, Ohio; running back Isaiah Pead, Eastmoor Academy HS, Columbus, Ohio; wideout Vaughn Carraway, Muhlenberg HS, Laurelsdale, Pa.; quarterback Domonick Britt, Trotwood-Madison HS, Trotwood, Ohio; tight end Justin Virbitsky, Lakeland HS, Jermyn, Pa.; defensive end Dan Vaughn, Central Catholic HS, Pittsburgh, Pa.; defensive end Jeff Hutchison, West Boca Raton HS, Boca Raton, Fla.; and linebacker Joe Trebitz, West Boca Raton HS, Boca Raton, Fla.

All except Trebitz have been offered scholarships from Pitt. The Panthers have 16 verbal commitments and have an opportunity to secure 3-4 more before the Feb. 6, 2008 signing date. When a recruit signs his letter of intent, his commitment to a school is binding.

Pitt's verbal commitment includes defensive end-linebacker Shayne Hale, Gateway HS, Monroeville, Pa.; tight end Mike Cruz, Bishop McCort HS, Johnstown, Pa.; center Robb Houser, Butte junior college, Oroville, Calif.; wideout Jonathan Baldwin, Aliquippa, Pa. HS; quarterback Tino Sunseri, Central Catholic HS, Pittsburgh, Pa.; quarterback Greg Cross, Fort Scott, Kans. junior college; wideout Michael Shanahan, Norwin HS, North Huntingdon, Pa.; running back Cameron Saddler, Gateway HS, Monroeville, Pa.; place-kicker Kevin Harper, Mentor, Ohio HS; wideout Ronald Hobby, Gwynn Park HS, Brandywine, Md.; offensive tackle Ryan Turnley, Hopewell, Pa. HS; offensive tackle Lucas Nix, Thomas Jefferson HS, Jefferson Hills, Pa.; safety Manny Williams, Clairton, Pa. HS; running back Chris Burns, Wilmington HS, New Wilmington, Pa.; and cornerback Antwuan Reed, Johnstown, Pa. HS.

Nix, Burns, Sunseri, Stoudt, Williams and Turnley are slated to visit again this weekend along with those making an official trip to Pitt. Offensive guard Josh Jenkins from Parkersburg, W.Va. HS will visit next weekend, and linebacker Eteyen Edet from Friendly HS in Fort Washington, Md. is expected to visit the final weekend in January. No one else is scheduled to visit at this time.

Alexander lists Pitt among his favorites with Penn State, Tennessee, Florida State and North Carolina. Gardiner has been offered to grayshirt at Ohio State, and he is interested in that, but the Panthers are also among his top schools with West Virginia and Northwestern. Pitt is up against West Virginia and Indiana for Pead, while West Virginia, Michigan and Temple are vying with the Panthers for Carraway. Britt is looking at Pitt, West Virginia and Jackson State. The Panthers, Duke, Buffalo, Temple and Akron have offered Virbitsky. Vaughn is interested in Pitt, Buffalo and Syracuse, while West Virginia, Syracuse, Florida International and Western Michigan are vying with the Panthers for Hutchison. Mostly Florida schools are interested in Trebitz.

The Panthers are also awaiting word from cornerback Jarred Holley from Easton, Pa. HS. Holley has Pitt, Virginia and Iowa among his top three schools and does not have any other visits scheduled this month.

Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt and his staff are expected to meet Thursday for the first time since before the recent college football coaches convention before going on the recruiting trail again.

The Panthers reportedly have two coaching openings with Chris Ball (secondary) and Paul Dunn (offensive line) leaving the program. Graduate assistant Jeff Hafley, who has worked with Pitt's secondary, is expected to be named as Ball's replacement. Tony Wise, Wannstedt's long-time friend and former coaching associate, is a possibility to replace Dunn. However, Wise currently is the offensive line coach with the New York Jets.

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