Pitt Recruiting Update

The Pitt football program will attempt to take at least four more players in its 2010 recruiting class, since the Panthers have 21 verbal commitments right now -- with 2009 recruit Todd Thomas counting in the upcoming class as a January enrollee -- and 25 total scholarships are the NCAA limit.

Pittsburgh has a solid class thus far with five-star defensive end T.J. Clemmings leading the way, with four-star players like safety Thomas, wideout Andrew Carswell and quarterback Anthony Gonzalez filling needs as well.

It's difficult to predict which prospect might be the next to pick Pitt, but one expected to be in the running for that honor is defensive back Brandon Ifill from Penn Hills High School in suburban Pittsburgh. Ifill has proclaimed that the Panthers and Maryland are his top two, with some others in the mix after that, but all indications are that Pitt and the Terps are on top.

Ifill has indicated that he would like to play wideout, instead of cornerback or safety -- which Pitt prefers and has told him that a nearly 6-foot, 190-pound DB doesn't come a dime a dozen, so to speak, like receivers that size. Still, with the in-roads they already have made, their success the past two seasons, the proximity to his home and an opportunity to play early should help secure Ifill.

Also, since Maryland is 2-7 with games remaining against Virginia Tech and Boston College and home, along with a game at Florida State in between those, so a 2-10 finish is a high probability. And that might not be enough to keep head coach Ralph Friedgen and his staff employed with the Terrapins.

That's something that also should play into Pitt's favor. Ifill reportedly will commit somewhere after the season, and the Panthers are the best bet here.

Three other DBs are in the mix, but maybe only one more will be taken -- if Ifill is the other -- between Shyquawn Pullium from Erie, Pa. Cathedral Prep; Ty-Meer Brown from McKeesport, Pa. High School and junior-college transfer Saheed Imoru from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.

Pitt would like to get Ifill, of course, but possibly would take 2-3 from that group of four defensive backs. Pullium reportedly is awaiting an offer from Penn State, but that might never happen. So, if Pullium waits too long, he could be an odd-man out in the DB race there. Brown is waiting as well, in an attempt to increase his offer sheet and get someone to believe he can play on the offensive side of the ball. Pitt wants him as a DB, and he reportedly does not want to play defense.

Imoru should make a commitment soon, because he would be a January enrollee and would need to get the paperwork in line to make that happen. So, he easily could be the next verbal for Pitt if it's not Ifill.

Offensive guard Shane Johnson from Dematha Catholic HS in Hyattsville, Md. has been a top target for Pitt for a long time, but after appearing to be a strong Panthers lean it's not that way now. Still, Pitt is in the mix, along with Rutgers and Cal. Johnson reportedly will officially visit Pitt Dec. 12, a week after he takes a trip to see the Scarlet Knights. And that could secure his commitment.

That weekend, a week after Pitt completes its season against Cincinnati -- with a possible Big East title -- will be a big recruiting weekend and still is being worked out. The Panthers' basketball team faces Kent State Dec. 12 at 2 p.m., and that game will be on the docket for any recruits in town.

Another possibility for Pitt is defensive Sherard Cadogan from Camden Catholic HS in Cherry Hill, N.J. Cadogan has had Pitt among his top four with Wisconsin, Michigan State and West Virginia. The Spartans appear to be the Panthers' biggest challenger for Cadogan, but this one is difficult to figure.

There still is a chance that Pitt linebackers coach Joe Tumpkin returns to Florida after the season to secure an athlete from that recruiting-rich state, but it all depends what happens in the next few weeks. And none of Pitt's current offers from there have the Panthers among their leaders.

Some believe the Panthers need to get a junior-college center, and they certainly would take one if available. But there just isn't one out there. So, a move that spot position could be filled by current walk-on Alex Karabin, a fifth-year senior next season, or another player could move along the line.

Brandon Sacco from Brandon Sacco Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., is a 2010 class member who could play center in the future. But not as a freshman next fall. Jared Martin and Wayne Jones, a fifth-year senior and redshirt junior, respectively, next season, also have practiced at center the past two years. But they couldn't get ahead of Karabin on the depth chart.

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