Pittsburgh has two verbals for next year's class -- safety-tailback Derrick Burns from Wilmington Area High School in New Wilmington, Pa. and defensive tackle Aaron Donald from Penn Hills HS in Pittsburgh -- but missed out on several recruits this year, including a few recently from the Panthers' back yard.
These recent developments have caused Pitt fans everywhere to question the Panthers' recruiting efforts, especially in Western Pennsylvania, but the truth is that they are working harder than ever to secure commitments from prospects. It's also true that Pitt's coaches have missed out on several recruits for some reason, and that's going to happen each. It won't diminish until the Panthers string together at least a few winning seasons on the field.
A second straight solid season is expected for 2009 with nearly an entire defense returning, including a line ranked among the nation's best. The offense has some veterans mixed with younger players which could be an exciting group as they all develop chemistry.
The future is bright as well with some talent coming to Pitt in this year's recruiting class and possibly in 2010, as the Panthers are among the top 2-3 schools for a number of recruits and in the ballpark with others. Here is a list:
The Panthers would like to bring in one quarterback next year. Joe Brennan from Camden Catholic HS in Cherry Hill, N.J.; Tyler Brosius from Tuscola HS in Waynesville, N.C. and Bryan Bennett from Crespi Carmelite HS in Encino, Cal. are the top prospects. Pitt, Oregon and Washington are Bennett's top three, but the Huskies have three other QB offers out there.
Braylon Heard from Cardinal Mooney HS in Youngstown, Ohio; Andre Givens from Hubbard, Ohio HS and T.J. Peeler from Broad Run HS in Ashburn, Va. are the top running back candidates. Heard and Givens are also being recruited as cornerbacks. Peeler is high on Pitt with Maryland a close second.
Zach Zwinak from Linganore HS in Frederick, Md. is among the top fullbacks in the nation. The Panthers, Virginia Tech and Ohio State are his top three.
Among the top wideouts high on Pitt include E.J. Scott from Our Lady of Good Counsel HS in Olney, Md.; Kevin Weatherspoon from Clairton, Pa. HS; Salath Williams from Bishop McDevitt HS in Harrisburg, Pa.; Tyrek Cheeseboro from Milford Mill HS in Baltimore, Md.; Bobby Swigert from Louisville, Ohio HS; Andrew Carswell from Sto-Rox HS in McKees Rocks, Pa. and Shakim Phillips from DePaul Catholic HS in Wayne, N.J.
Pitt was the first to offer Weatherspoon, while Toledo, Kent State and Syracuse followed. Williams has Pitt and Iowa at the top, while Cheeseboro has the Panthers and Maryland in his top two. Swigert's only BCS offers are Pitt, Indiana and Cincinnati. Carswell has Pitt among his top schools in a dozen offers, and Scott has the Panthers in his top four with Rutgers, Virginia and Maryland.
The tight end prospects are Kevin Haplea from North Hunderton HS in Annandale, N.J.; Dan Schneider from Avon Lake, Ohio HS and Brendan Carizzoni from St. Ignatius HS in Cleveland, Ohio. Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia top Haplea's extensive list, while the Panthers are among a huge group for Schneider along with Cincinnati, Michigan and Ohio State. And Carizzoni has a handful of offers with Pitt among the leaders.
The offensive line candidates are Matt Rotheram from North Olmsted, Ohio HS, Sal Conaboy from Abington Heights HS in Clarks Summit, Pa.; Eric Franklin from Cardinal Mooney HS in Youngstown, Ohio and Shane Johnson from Dematha Catholic HS in Hyattsville, Md. Rotheram has Pitt in his top six with Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Conaboy has a top two of Pitt and Maryland, while the Panthers are among Franklin's favorites with Purdue, Indiana, Kansas and Michigan State. And Johnson lists Pitt, Penn State and Virginia as his top three.
The linebacking group includes Nick Forbes from Governor Thomas Johnson HS in Frederick, Md.; Manessa Garner from Brashear HS in Pittsburgh; Sherard Cadogan from Camden Catholic HS in Camden, N.J. and Zachary Allen from Pahokee, Fla. HS. Forbes has a top six with Pitt, West Virginia, Cal, Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. Garner got his initial offer from Pitt with interest from Maryland, Connecticut and Wisconsin. Cadogan has Pitt and Wisconsin as a top two, while Allen's top six includes Pitt, Wake Forest, Michigan, Purdue, West Virginia and Vanderbilt.
Dakota Royer from Manheim Central HS in Manheim Township, Pa.; James Kittredge and Bryan Murphy from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J.; Kyle Baublitz from Central York HS in York, Pa. and Kenny Wilkins from Trinity HS in Washington, Pa. Royer has Pitt in his top six with Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Illinois and UCLA. Kittredge's long list includes Pitt, Rutgers, Duke, UCLA, Vanderbilt, North Carolina State, Virginia and Central Florida. Murphy's favorites are Pitt and Maryland, while Baublitz has Pitt, Penn State, Maryland and Virginia among his top schools. Wilkins will announce today, and the choice likely will be either Pitt or Michigan.
The defensive backs are Cullen Christian and Brandon Ifill from Penn Hills HS in Pittsburgh and Jeff Knox from Dematha Catholic HS in Hyattsville, Md. Christian lists Pitt, Michigan, West Virginia and UCLA in his top five, but the Panthers aren't in the top two. Ifill has Pitt, Michigan, Maryland, Rutgers, West Virginia and Michigan State among his leaders, while the Panthers are among the leaders for Knox with Maryland, Michigan, Penn State and Wake Forest.
Pitt might offer a punter and is looking at Tyler Yonchiuk from East Brunswick, N.J. Rutgers, West Virginia and Purdue are also interested in him.
Pitt's one-day prospect camps for grades 9-12 are Friday, June 19 and 20. Team and individual overnight camps (ages 12-18) are Sunday through Tuesday. The specialist camp is June 18, while the Big Man Challenge is June 27. And the team (passing) camp is June 27-28 at the practice facility.
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