Dave Wannstedt Interview Part I

For those concerned that the Pitt football team's recruiting efforts have been lagging behind other schools this spring, as far as verbal commitments are concerned, Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt says to chill out.

Well, Dave Wannstedt didn't actually use those words, but he urged University of Pittsburgh football followers to be patient. It's still early in June, and with the school's several football camps coming up commitments are sure to follow.

Wannstedt spoke to Panther Digest while driving with Bob Junko, Pitt's director of football relations and program enhancement, for a meet-and-greet session at the Erie Alumni Club.

"We know that Pitt's not the school for everyone,'' Wannstedt said. "Sure, we'd like to think it is, as coaches, alumni and fans, but I think you have to look at the situation from several different ways. First, the number of scholarships we have available. Our graduating class next year, we have 14 seniors, so it's not going to be a big graduating class again.

"A lot of schools offer early and do a lot of things, but we don't conduct ourselves by what anybody else does or what they say about us. We evaluate every player and watch tape on them before we offer a scholarship. The last three years, we ended up with some pretty good recruiting classes. And by the time we started in the fall, we had seven commitments.

"And I think we'll have 7-9 this year, too,'' Wannstedt added, "but this should be a big month for us with our camps and everything else going on. And since I wasn't able to get out on the road in the month of May, that might have had an effect on things a bit as well. As you know, NCAA rules prohibit head coaches from going on the road in May now. So, that's where we're at.''

Pitt recently received its first verbal when Stoneboro, Pa. native Cory King, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman from Lakeview High School committed to Pitt this week. However, there was some consternation from fans because such notable prospects as quarterback Tom Savage (Rutgers), running back Jordan Hall (Ohio State), offensive tackle Eric Shrive (Penn State), defensive tackle Johnny Simon (Ohio State), defensive end Sean Stanley (Penn State) and linebacker Dorian Bell (Ohio State).

"I can't mention any specific names, but when you talk about some of the top kids out there that we're interested in, Pitt is among their top 2-3 schools,'' Wannstedt said. "And that's where we should be at this point.''

With several new coaches joining the Panthers this year, Wannstedt changed up Pitt's recruiting efforts.

"The area where I felt that we neglected a bit in recruiting and didn't do a very good job in the past was in the Baltimore, (Washington), D.C. and Northern Virginia area,'' Wannstedt said. "So, when we hired our receivers coach, Bryan Bossard, he's from that area and has recruited in that area. So, I think we strengthened ourselves in that area now.''

Pitt signed just one player from Florida this year, linebacker Joe Trebitz from West Boca Raton High School, and that is a marked difference from previous recruiting classes. And Charlie Partridge left for Wisconsin, and the Panthers lost their top Florida recruiter, so a change had to be made.

"I think we had too many players from Florida on our team,'' Wannstedt said. "At one point, we had 24 kids out of 85 (scholarship) players from the state of Florida. ... We should have maybe 10-12 kids from the state of Florida. Our linebackers coach that we just hired, Joe Tumpkin, he went to school in Miami.

"So, he's got great Florida ties, and he's the one who will be recruiting in Florida. He knows a lot of people down there, so I feel good about maintaining our recruiting presence in Florida. We might not offer as many kids as before, but ... I feel that we still have a good situation in Florida with Joe now.''

Wannstedt wanted to make it clear that Pitt was not de-emphasizing Florida per se, but the staff has just picked up the pace in other areas like Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Maryland, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia areas. For example, running backs coach David Walker primarily has recruited in New York. Now, Walker joins secondary coach Jeff Hafley and offensive line coach Tony Wise in New Jersey along with his other duties.

Notes: Part II of Panther Digest's interview with Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt will run Friday and deal more with the current team, including an update on the injury situation and roster moves. Like Part I, Friday's story can be accessed only by Panther Digest subscribers.

Panther More Top Stories