Pitt's Quarterback Recruiting

The recruiting evaluation period has begun for college football programs, and the Pitt Panthers coaching staff is on the road in an attempt to find prospects for the 2010 class.

An area hit hard in recent weeks is the quarterback position where Pittsburgh offers Paul Jones from Sto-Rox High School in McKees Rocks, Pa. re-committed to Penn State, less than one month after re-opening his recruitment, and Tyler Smith from in Wilson HS in Easton, Pa. verbally committed to Maryland. Joe Boisture from Saline, Mich. HS also made a pledge to Boston College March 10.

Other scholarship offers to high school junior quarterbacks like Austin Hinder from Steamboat Springs, Colo. HS, Jake Heaps from Skyline HS in Issaquah, Wash. and Mark Leal from Atlantic HS in Delray Beach, Fla. have two chances to commit to Pitt. Slim and none. But they certainly were long shots when the Panthers offered them.

So, that means Pitt is scrambling to find quarterback prospects for 2010. Incumbent starter Bill Stull is a fifth-year senior, while former starter Pat Bostick has junior eligibility. The position is bottom-heavy as well with redshirt freshman Tino Sunseri and incoming frosh Kolby Gray.

The Panthers just offered Bryan Bennett from Crespi Carmelite HS in Encino, Calif. and are still in the running for Anthony Gonzalez from Liberty HS in Bethlehem, Pa., a mid-January offer, as well as Joe Brennan from Camden Catholic HS in Cherry Hill, N.J., whom they offered less than two weeks ago.

Bennett, the 6-3, 185-pound 26th-ranked signal-caller in the nation from Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif., finished his junior season with 1,700 yards passing and 10 touchdowns to go with an additional 200 yards rushing and three scores. He was even more impressive as a sophomore with 2,133 yards passing and 18 touchdowns. He has no offers just yet, but has interest from UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Arizona, Washington State, Boise State and Colorado State as well as Pitt.

A 6-1, 195-pound dual-threat, left-handed quarterback, Gonzalez has multiple offers and interest as an athlete who could play on both sides of the ball. Pitt is recruiting him right now as a quarterback. Clemson, Florida State, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Penn State, Stanford, Vanderbilt and West Virginia also have offered. He ran for nearly 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns and threw for nearly 1,600 yards.

The nearly 6-4, 180-pound Brennan threw for 2,438 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior and also ran for 33 times for 305 yards and one score. Along with Pitt, he has offers from Rutgers, Stanford, Temple and Wisconsin. However, Tennessee, Miami and Duke have been showing strong interest.

Pitt is also involved with several other quarterbacks who will be seniors this fall and could tender scholarship offers sometime during the next six weeks or so after the evaluation period and through the prospects camps in June. Other players could be targeted during that time as well.

Other quarterbacks with some Pitt interest include Mitchell Faine from Ada, Ohio HS, Kyle Smith from Lancaster, Pa. Catholic HS, Mitch Marincov from Timber Creek HS in Orlando, Fla. and Rasheem Jones from Aliquippa, Pa. HS.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Faine ran a spread offense and threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 38 TDs (71 percent) with eight interceptions and ran for another 600-plus yards and 16 scores to lead his team to a 12-1 record this past fall. The only loss was to the eventual state champion. Along with Pitt, Michigan State, Ohio State, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas Tech, UCLA, West Virginia, Bowling Green and Toledo are showing interest, but none have offered.

Smith doesn't have any offers, either, but if he begins his senior season the way he ended his junior one his stock should rise. Smith completed nearly 67 percent of his passes for 3,193 yards and 42 touchdowns with five pickoffs in a spread offense. This followed a sophomore campaign with 2,600 passing yards (64 percent), 26 touchdowns and six picks. The 6-3, 200-pound left-hander has received interest from Pitt, Connecticut, Duke, Maryland, Florida State, Penn State, Rutgers and Virginia.

Marincov has interest from Pitt and West Virginia, but no offers. The nearly 6-2, 200-pounder attended the Panthers prospects camp last year and displayed a strong arm and poise despite only being a sophomore. He led his school to the rugged Class 6-A, District 3 playoffs as a first-year starter and also returned there as a junior. Marincov's stats aren't gaudy, but solid: a 47-percent completion rate for nearly 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions as a sophomore and completed nearly 58 percent of his passes last fall for more than 800 yards with six TDs and eight picks.

Jones is 6-3 and 185 pounds with a cannon arm and good speed, but he has no offers and interest from Penn State, West Virginia, Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Miami, Fla. and Michigan State, along with Pitt and attended the Panthers' camp last year.

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