The Panthers Big Board

With seventeen commitments already on board for the class of 2009 Pittsburgh Panthers we are estimating there will be four to five spots left and we'll try and figure out who will fill those spots in the upcoming weeks.

Here is a look at the top five prospects on the board that the Pittsburgh staff seems to be focusing their attention on the most to fill the remaining slots in the class of 2009. We will also look at who is after those five.

Josh Evans
The Panthers would love to land Irvington (N.J.) athlete Josh Evans who has continued to have an interest in the Panthers, despite having over 40 BCS scholarship offers. Evans could play a number of different positions for Pittsburgh. He can play quarterback in the Wildcat. He can play wide receiver. He can play any of the defensive back positions. He has a great relationship with Jeff Hafley and that has kept the panthers in the game. Oklahoma and Florida seem to be the biggest competitors for this talent from the "Garden State"

Recruiter: Jeff Hafley

Competition: Oklahoma and Florida

What Has To Happen: The key is getting Evans in for an official visit. Odds are if he does schedule one it will be late and he will likely be one of the few guys coming in. That means the red carpet and lots of attention coming to the four-star recruit. Our theory as always is if you get a visit you have a chance and that will tell the tale here.

Best Guess: The longer his recruitment draws out the better it is for Pittsburgh. The best case scenario is that Florida and Oklahoma get filled up, Evans visits and loves it. I see it as a long shot until he schedules a visit.

Dan Mason
The Panthers have always had great middle linebackers and they would like nothing more than to add Pittsburgh (Pa.) Penn Hills four-star Dan Mason to the mix as the heir apparent. We feel Mason's best football still lies ahead of him and he has a chance to be special. He is a guy who can come in and challenge for playing time immediately. Mason seems intent on waiting until the end of the process to pick his school. It seems to have come down to another "Backyard Brawl" with West Virginia for his services.

Recruiter: Greg Gattuso

Competition: West Virginia

What Has To Happen: Mason is supposed to be taking an official visit to West Virginia in the coming weeks. Whether or not that happens is anyone's guess at this point.

Best Guess:It has been my feeling that Mason has been a Panther since camp. He basically has come out and said he is going to Pitt without actually saying it. Unless he takes a trip to Morgantown and is blown away he will be a Panther.

Bernardo Nunez
At 6-foot-3 and 235-pounds, Bernardo Nunez from Hoboken, New Jersey is the kind of player who excels in the Panthers defensive scheme. He is a very productive player with over 200 tackles and almost 30 sacks his final two seasons. He can come off the edge or drop into the flats in coverage. From everything we have gathered he is a done deal as long as mom approves.

Recruiter: Jeff Hafley

Competition Maryland

What Has To Happen:From everything we have been told it looks as though Nunez is going to be a Panther as long as his mother approves of it. Now it is just a matter of waiting until he makes it official.

Best Guess:Unless he got caught up in the moment during his official visit we expect him to be a Panther and we should know soon.

Malcolm Bush
Hackensack (N.J.) tight end/defensive end Malcolm Bush could be the most intriguing prospect of all these guys. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound two-way star could end up as a tight end or he could grow into a freakishly good defensive end under the tutelage of Greg Gattuso. He is a long, rangy kid like Jabaal Sheard, Tony Tucker and Greg Romeus and the Panthers have done well with those types of guys.

Recruiter: Jeff Hafley

Competition:North Carolina

What Has To Happen:This one seems like it could all come down to whatever happens on his official visit to Chapel Hill. Last week, Bush named the Panthers as his leader, but North Carolina is a beautiful place and Butch Davis can be tough to beat.

Best Guess:He has been very high on Pitt for awhile now and was blown away by his official visit. He has a chance to play early if he is on defense and depending on depth he could get some run with the offense. We think he will be a Panther.

Isaac Holmes
Another standout from Hoboken, New Jersey. Isaac Holmes is a run stuffing defensive tackle that can also get after the quarterback. By all reports he also had a great time on his official visit and we'd expect that he has a chance to earn significant playing time very early. The Panthers will be graduating most of their defensive tackle depth after next season.

Recruiter: Jeff Hafley

Competition: Maryland

What Has To Happen:He seemed to have a great time on his official visit to Pittsburgh and we suspect that if his friend and teammate Nunez joins the Panthers then so does Holmes. The Hafley Express is rolling from Jersey to Pittsburgh and the Hoboken duo could be the next to jump aboard.

Best Guess:This could all come down to what Nunez decides to do. They seem to be a package deal and we expect right now that Pitt leads for both.

On The Bubble

Shane Gordon
Shane Gordon is a very active and athletic linebacker from Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay and the Panthers would love to have him, but the class could fill up before he makes a decision. He and his mom seemed to have a great trip to Pittsburgh last weekend and he could decide within the next two to three weeks.

Recruiter:Joe Tumpkin

Competition:South Florida and Ole Miss

What Has To Happen:If he is not very impressed with his trip to USF this weekend then he could decide or he could take the trip he has scheduled to Ole Miss near the end of the month. As the last few slots in everyone's class begin to fill up the longer you go the more of a gamble you're taking unless you are an elite type of prospect.

Best Guess:This could go either way. He could not be impressed on his trip to USF and decide to commit to Pittsburgh. He could also decide he wants to take longer and by then the class may be full. We doubt the staff waits until the last week for him, so if he doesn't decide in the next week or so, or unless a few of the expected guys opt for elsewhere he could be left out in the cold.

The Best Of The Rest

John Wetzel
Pittsburgh (Pa.) Brashear offensive tackle John Wetzel is a kid who we felt should have been offered at camp. At this stage he looks to be a better prospect than Dan Matha was coming out of high school. If he wasn't a city league player and was in the WPIAL this guy would have 20 offers. You cannot teach size, feet and tenacity to an offensive lineman and Wetzel has them all.

What Will Happen:Boston College and Connecticut are coming on very strong with Wetzel, so that could make the Panthers take a closer look at him and try to bring him in for a visit and potentially a scholarship offer. He is a low risk and high reward type of prospect at this stage, but he is that guy who could come back to haunt the staff if he goes elsewhere.

Matt Plautz
Cranberry Township (Pa.) Seneca Valley wide receiver Matt Plautz a kid you have to root for. He put up staggering numbers this year and he works his tail off. He did very well for himself at the Panthers summer camp and if the staff had a full allotment of 25 scholarships then he would probably be one of those last few guys that would get one.

What Will Happen:

The only real options we see at this point are that Plautz could be asked to be a preferred walk-on and we have no doubt he'd earn a scholarship or he could even be a potential greyshirt candidate That of course is all speculation on our part, but it seems the most likely scenario looking at the needs and who is on the board. He is a legacy player and you'd like to see him get a shot, so who knows.

Carl Miles
Carl Miles is another intriguing prospect from Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay. Miles has good size at 5-foot-10 and 170-pounds and the Panthers could use some size in the secondary and depth at corner. He ran a 6.96 L-Cone at the Combine in Miami and any time you his sub-7.0 that is flying and usually shows that a kid has some athleticism.

What Will Happen:

Dave Wannstedt loves Florida speed and we'd be shocked if he didn't try to bring in a few Floridians on defense, so maybe Miles will be that guy. He doesn't have a lot of big school offers, so one would assume that if he earns an offer on his visit that he may think about jumping on it.

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