The Guru Grill

Hello fellow Panther fans. It's time to fire up The Guru Grill. This is where Panther fans come to get the answers to their questions regarding University of Pittsburgh athletics and recruiting from Recruiting Analyst Bob Lichtenfels. Let's get started.

Kasale: From what you have observed do you feel we could win a BCS game with Bill Stull at quarterback? I would just like to make any bowl game, but in a best case scenario do you think if he starts or has what it takes to lead his team to a BCS bowl win?


GURU: Bill Stull is a very capable quarterback, but he lacks experience. The only way he can get it is by playing. The defense he is facing everyday in practice will be one of the better ones he will face all season in my opinion. The Pitt defense is filled with athletes now and I think that will benefit Pitt and Bill Stull or whomever is at quarterback. If Stull or Bostick is the man they are going to be better than last year, just based on experience. Then you factor in having Shady back, plus all of the injured players coming back. Then you finally look like you will have a defense. It could be a special year for the Panthers.


pittengineer75: List of expected players at for Blue Chip day?


GURU: Basically I was told, most of the prospects that Pitt is interested were there with the exception of Eric Shrive, Je'Ron Stokes, E.J. Banks and Tom Savage. Stokes was in Tennessee and committed to the Vols. Mason was at junior day at Penn State. Shrive and Banks are pretty much lost causes for Pitt at this point.


Reno9:  What kind of prospect is Adam Bostick?


GURU: I think Adam will have a chance to possibly be a D-I prospect. He is growing I think last I had heard he was at 6-3/6-4/230 or so. I have seen him the past few years in 7on7 and he can play, but Manheim doesn't use a tight end to throw to a lot. My guess is he will have to shine at camps.


kbrody:  Several of the recruits Pitt has already offered have been given a star rating by Scout. Do you disagree with any of the ratings? Also, several of the players that have been offered have a one star rating, which I understand really means that they have not been rated. Using the star rating system how would you rate the recruits that have been offered but have not yet been rated by Scout?


GURU: Ask me this after the 15th, once the newest rankings are done. The rankings have only gone to 300. By the time all is said and done there will be over 2,000 players ranked. So after this next set you should see it expanded slightly.


JaronBrownMythManLedgend:  Which incoming freshmen do you see having the talent/ability to make the two-deep, but eventually taking a redshirt?


GURU: Shayne Hale, Jonathan Baldwin, Cameron Saddler and Lucas Nix are the most intriguing to me. They are talented enough to play this year, but there are other things happening which could control their destiny. If Gruder continues his solid play backing up McKillop, does a redshirt get wasted on Hale? Hale could play a few other positions. Baldwin could be a difference maker and I don't care who does what among the receivers on the team, Baldwin is special and you find a way to use him. Saddler could be an immediate impact guy on special teams and just having his energy around is a good thing, but what if Aundre Wright can do similar things? If Pinkston comes back healthy along with Gibbs and Matha at tackles, is there an immediate need to burn Nix's redshirt? These to me are the interesting battles going into summer camp.

Michael Shanahan I would have said should play, because he is a match-up nightmare, but with Dorin Dickerson playing the way he has and giving you that hybrid type guy. Shanahan may be able to be redshirted. Kevin Harper could step on the field from day one and be the kickoff man. His leg is ridiculously strong, but again is it worth it?


Kasale: I don't know if I would like to see this or not, but in your opinion do you think the Big East will ever expand in football?


GURU: I think it could, but it would have to add four teams. Are there four viable options out there? Not that I see. Unless Notre Dame is ever convinced that it should join. The only way I'd like to see it is if a teams like Maryland or Penn State would join. Not to see four teams added just for the sake of adding them. I have been saying it for years and I still say Penn State is a natural fit in the Big East. I Maryland would be as well, but until they see a reason to join why should they?


w0lfinator:  Who is your sleeper of the year for next years class in PA, and does Pitt have a shot at him? If not, who do you believe Pitt will go after as their sleeper of the year prospect?


GURU: There are two right now CB Deonte Flemings from Strong Vincent and WR Dontae Brown from Penn Hills. I like Flemings  a lot. He is a gritty in your face, lock-down corner. Brown ran a (4.66) at our combine at 6-3.5/185. He just needs to get it out of his head that he is a quarterback. Brown would have to either tear it up at camp or have a strong senior season. Flemings should already have an offer in my opinion, but we'll see.


pittengineer75: Predicted starting lineup against Bowling Green (Offense / Defense)?



QB - Bill Stull

RB: LeSean McCoy

FB : Conredge Collins

TE: Nate Byham

WR: Derek Kinder

WR: Oderick Turner

OT: Jason Pinkston

OT: Joe Thomas

OG: C.J. Davis

OG: John Malecki

C:  Robb Houser


DE: Greg Romeus

DE: Doug Fulmer

DT: Tommie Duhart

DT: Gus Mustakas

OLB: Adam Gunn

OLB: Shane Murray

MLB: Scott McKillop

CB: Aaron Berry

CB: Buddy Jackson

S: Eric Thatcher

S: Dom DeCicco


I could also see Jordan Gibbs or Matha at tackle and Thomas or Pinkston shifting to guard. Mo Williams could also end up at WR.


Kasale86: In your opinion is Elijah Fields the real deal, and if so, then how big of an impact do you think he will have on an already good defense?


GURU: Scoot is a freak. Everyone knows that he may physically be the Panthers best player. He just needs to be consistent and make plays all the time. He basically has to give the staff no reason to not play him. Even if he does not start, he'll play significant minutes and be a very big factor.


w0lfinator:  Who is the highest prospect (either based on rankings, or in your opinion) that you think Pitt has a legitimate shot at landing?


GURU: Right now, I'd say Corey Brown from Gateway or Todd Thomas from Beaver Falls.


JaronBrownMythManLedgend: Which of the incoming freshmen do you see being redshirted?


GURU: Andrew Taglianetti may still grayshirt from what I have heard. Tino Sunseri, Jarred Holley, Joe Trebitz, Antwuan Reed, Chris Burns, Manny Williams, Ryan Turnley, Ronald Hobby and Justin Virbitsky are my picks as guaranteed redshirts. Unless injuries or depth become an issue. The others who I mentioned in an above post are the guys who I think have the best shot at playing. Mike Cruz will all depend on the depth at tight end, but I think he'll redshirt as well.



Kasale: Fields or DeCicco? My question is why not both? If they are both so talented why aren't they going to be on the field together in our base defense? I know Thatcher likes to hit and has experience, but can you see a scenario where one of them takes Thatcher's starting spot?


GURU: Safety is your quarterback in the secondary. Thatcher is the leader and he has the most experience. DeCicco seems right now like he'll be the guy. Scoot just needs to be consistent and make his case in fall camp. If he just unleashes and gives them no reason to keep him off the field it would be tough, but its tough to make up for Thatcher's experience.


gregpitt: After ending the year with a big win and some confidence, what is the attitude of the team four months later? Are the players more spirited, business like, etc?


GURU: There were about 10-15 players at our combine and you could notice the swagger. The swagger that has been missing. The players believe in what they are doing and they are aiming for big things this season.


w0lfinator:  I know we are only a week into camp but has anyone improved dramatically from last year or has anyone really disappointed you in their lack of overall progress?


GURU: Mick Williams has been impressive. Last year it seemed as though every mention of his name was followed by a new injury. He has stepped up and matured and you're now seeing a football player. Buddy Jackson has become what the staff thought he would and that is a big corner who can flat out fly. Dorin Dickerson looks like he has finally found a home at tight end. Doug Fulmer looks like he never missed a day. The disappointing element to me is that none of the quarterbacks have really taken control and seized the opportunity that they have. Each has had flashes, but no one has just taken the job.


Kasale:  There is so much excitement regarding Mo Williams, but do you truly see him starting this year over Turner who has a ton of experience on him. I'm hoping he starts and becomes a beast alongside Jon Baldwin, but maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.


GURU: There is a lot of excitement around Mo Williams and what he brings to the table. Turner needs to stay focused on catching passes, instead of complaining which we saw a lot of last year. Regardless, whether you're competitive or not there is a right way and a wrong way to do things and get your message across. Anyone who has watched Pitt play can tell you that they see flashes of good and bad Greg Lee in Oderick Turner. Mo just quietly goes about his business. While frustration is understandable, letting your emotions overcome you is not.


buccoboy:  How big of surprise were the commitments of the nations top-rated WR and a top-rated QB to WVU?


GURU: Bill Stewart has always done well in Virginia and by him hiring Chris Beatty he took a great high school coach that players and kids really like. I think the Mountaineers are going to be a force in that state. The Tahj Boyd pledge wasn't that much of a surprise, but Logan Heastie was. Not that he committed to West Virginia, but that he did it so early.


waltharris4prez: Have you heard anything on Phil Bennett's opinion of the talent level of his new defense?


GURU: That is a future story that we have planned on the site.



themasterghoul: Could give us the #1 ranked PA high school player at each position for 2009?


GURU: I don't want to give that away just yet. April 15 we will expand the rankings and I'll answer this for you then.


Kasale86: With an inexperienced offensive line how much of an advantage do you think it is to have them going against our tenacious defensive line everyday in practice?


GURU: Like I said in a previous post. The Pitt offense won't face many defenses as good as it's own. It has got to help.


waltharris4prez: Also what was the main reason Pitt did not hire Terry Smith?


GURU: I think it came down to two things. Experience was one big factor. Bryan Bossard is more experienced. The second factor is that Bossard has experience recruiting Maryland/DC and that is needed on the staff.


gregpitt: How have the new coaches been? Have they dramatically changed anything? How are the players responding to new styles and philosophies?


GURU: The hiring of Phil Bennett seems to be a good one. All the reports say that he is very hands on and that has seemed to really help the overall confidence of the defense as a whole. Jeff Hafley should be praised just for the work he did with Elijah Fields. The addition of Tony Wise is a good one. It's tough to judge him now with a patchwork unit, but the players really respect him.


Kasale:  Whether it be from a physical standpoint or mentally, what part of his game do you think LeSean McCoy needs to improve on most from last year. He was amazing, but I'm sure the staff would like him to improve even more.


GURU: Two of the biggest issues facing backs at this level is their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and their ability to pass block and pick up blitzes. McCoy did well in both areas, but he can get better. I think it's tough to find an area of weakness in his running game. Except once in a while he needs to be reminded to not hold the ball like a loaf of bread. A solid hit can be a fumble at any time.



buccoboy: Is Bill Stewart a legitimate threat to secure some of the top players from our backyard?


GURU: West Virginia is always a threat, especially since they have been the best team in the conference the past few years. I think Stewart is just as happy stealing studs in Virginia as he is having to battle Pitt and Penn State up here.


JaronBrownMythManLedgend: Would making a BCS bowl game increase the Panthers chances of landing Dan Mason and Dorian Bell?


GURU: I'm sure it would help their chance to land anyone who isn't committed by then. It's tough to say, sometimes a kid just wants to leave home and do something different. I just don't see Bell as the type of kid who stays close to home. He has a great relationship with his mom, but I just don't see him staying here. Mason is a different story. He is in a comfort zone close to home so I'd say PSU, Pitt or WVU for him.


Kasale86:  Do you think Shariff Harris or even Conredge Collins will get a chance to use their size, bang out some yards, and provide a change of pace to Shady McCoy?


GURU: That would be an interesting goaline backfield. I think if Shariff is going to be in the rotation it could happen, but right now with LaRod and Collier there it's going to be tough to get carries. Plus you have Hyno and Shane Brooks as well.


PittFaninMO: What do you think of Terry Patrick and Juantez Hollins from Aliquippa? What positions do you see them playing when in college?


GURU: I personally like Hollins as a defensive tackle. I still remember seeing him at Pitt's camp as a freshman and thinking who the heck is that kid. After he told me he was a freshman I was stunned. He was the best defensive linemen I have seen at their camp minus Johnny Simon. Patrick could play corner or safety. He is very athletic and smooth. He can drop and cover, but he can also come up and stick you.


rmf05: Will we get official visits from Emmanuel Yeager and Je'Ron Stokes?


GURU: Stokes just committed to Tennessee, so I'll say no. Yeager likes Pitt a lot right now, but he also would like to commit early.


pacoach: Any Chance the Boren kid From Michigain Gives Pitt a look since if he were to go to OSU he would have to sit an additional year?


GURU: The father seems to want Justin to go to Ohio State. I have not heard Pitt mentioned and a lot of times you don't hear anything until the last minute on these things. I would think with the need for linemen that Pitt would make a run at him.


CaptainH: Who would you most like to see receive offers from the Under Armor/ Combine, and who do you think will receive offer from the combine?


GURU: Abdul Smith and Deonte Flemings are two kids that continue to impress me more and more. Flemings has the ability to be a big time corner. Smith with his size is bigger than any of Pitt's corners currently. He could also be a very good safety. The big tackle from Brashear John Wetzel could be a big time sleeper at 6-7/265 he has a frame that could allow him to carry 325 and his feet are very good.


Kasale86: There has been a lot of talk about how Greg Cross hasn't been very accurate in practice. Last year, we ran shady in the wildcat package and we had virtually no passing threat from it. If Cross runs some wildcat this year do you think he'll be a good enough passer to give the wildcat a more dynamic look?


GURU: You have to remember that Cross hasn't had a ton of opportunities to throw the ball in high school or in junior college. He's the type of kid who is going to get better with each rep.


upitt33: Is the staff looking for a true FB or looking for a H-back to replace Conredge Collins' scholarship?


GURU: There aren't a lot of true fullbacks out there. Remember Conredge wasn't a true fullback, nor was Shane Brooks. Henry Hynoski wasn't either. Most of your fullbacks today are big running backs who make the transition. The team has decent depth there, so its not a priority, but I'm sure they will be shopping for one.


JaronBrownMythManLedgend: Do you see the "vision of the future" line not working anymore for Wanny if he produces a sub-par record in 2008?


GURU: I hate to speculate about things like that, but it would be tough to imagine that he'd be brought back if Pitt fails to reach a bowl game. There is just too much talent for the team not to be successful.


pittengineer75: Out of the recruits offered so far for 09', which are the top 10 most likely to be future Panthers?


GURU: What's next someone wants the Powerball numbers for

Emmanuel Yeager

Brock DeCicco

Todd Thomas

Tyrone Ezell

Juantez Hollins

Terry Patrick

Jack Lippert

A.J. Fenton

Dan Mason

Cory King


Kasale86: With all the talented redshirt linebackers we have, do you expect to see Murray and Gunn starting come the first game?


GURU: I do, because of the experience factor and they have improved as well. Competition is only going to make the starters better. If it doesn't then they won't start. But I would not be surprised to see the redshirt guys get some run this fall.


jells73:  Which 2009 defensive line prospects do you think will make commitments to the Panthers?


GURU: Right now I think Jack Lippert if Penn State doesn't offer. Juantez Hollins I think is just a matter of time.


PittFan7:  Based on your gut feeling , what PA prospects do you think will become Panthers?


GURU: See Above...


Kasale: I'm not asking for the Pitt script back as much as I would love to see it, but why can't we wear the throwback uni's on special occasions or for a select game every year? Just wondering your thoughts?


GURU: That would be a good question to ask Steve Pederson. My guess is the cost and the fact that when it is done it just sparks the debate that much more. So if the "Script" is dead, they aren't going to want to keep rehashing it.


w0lfinator: How has Hynoski looked in practice? Do you think he will see minutes this year or will he probably just continue to learn and try to take over the starting spot next season? Whenever he does get the starting spot, do you see him getting more carries than Collins has?


GURU: By all accounts Hyno has looked good. Fullback is a tough position for one guy to be the man on every play. You are either taking hits or giving them, so I'd expect Hyno to see some action. As far as carries go, i think it will depend on the situation.


JaronBrownMythManLedgend:  How many O-Line do you see PITT taking in this class and at what positions? Also what kids do you believe PITT has a good shot at landing for those positions?


GURU: I can see three-four possibly and again that all depends on how camp shakes out with the injuries and position switches. Cory King is the only one I see right now with an offer who it seems like they have a great shot at. My guess is they offer a couple in camp maybe the Istanich kid from Johnstown would be a possibility.


"In Your Grill" question of the week


kbrody:  I don't see anyone on the Offer Tracker list from Florida. I know its early, and I understand that less emphasis is being placed on recruiting in Florida than a few years ago, but it is hard to ignore the talent Pitt has picked up from that state--just look at the defensive line. What is the extent of the recruiting effort in Florida now and what do you think the trend will be for the future?


GURU: I think that is only because Pitt got a very late start in Florida. Most of their offers will come in the next few weeks. Florida kids usually don't commit anywhere very early unless it is a big time school and those aren't usually the kids that Pitt gets.



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