Pitt Establishing Presence Beyond Western PA

With the additions of Jameel Poteat and Terrell Chestnut this week, Pitt has flexed its muscle in the cental and eastern parts of the state. Recruiting efforts have increased in these areas under Dave Wannstedt--and more importantly--so has the track record for developing players from this region.

Here's a look at every player that Pitt has signed over the last 15 years from either eastern or central Pennsylvania.

In recent years, Pitt's ability to recruit and develop players from this area has grown significantly.

1995
Ethan Weidle
Lebanon, PA/Lebanon Catholic
Became a three-year starter on the offensive line, starting at guard and tackle throughout his career. After graduating from Pitt, signed a rookie free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Julian Graham
Philadelphia, PA/John Bartram
A four-year starter at defensive end for the Panthers, Graham went on to play two years in the Canadian Football League.

1996
Hank Poteat
Harrisburg, PA/Harrisburg
Finished with 10 career interceptions, after spending his true freshman year on both sides of the ball. Became the starting cornerback as a sophomore in 1997. When drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000, was the first Pitt player drafted in four years. Since then, Pitt has had at least one player drafted every year.

1997
Rickey Mendenhal
Morrisville, PA/Pennsbury
- Redshirted in 1997, but came on to start six games at running back in his redshirt freshman year of 1998, rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He was moved to fullback as Kevan Barlow and Nick Goings got more involved, and was gone from the team after the 1999 season.

1998
Bryan Anderson
Philadelphia, PA/John Bartram
Anderson started right off the bat, and ended his career with 47 career starts, including a streak of 34. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2003, playing two seasons in the NFL. He was a first-team All-Big East selection as a senior in 2002.

Ryan Smith
Philadelphia, PA/Roxborough
Smith played three seasons for the Panthers from 1999-2001, starting off and on during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. He finished with 113 career tackles with 6.5 sacks. He battled shoulder problems throughout the 2001 season that forced him to miss some games.

1999
Kris Wilson
Lancaster, PA/J.P. McCaskey
One of the most successful players on this list. Started in 43 of 48 career games played, and finished with 88 career receptions for 1,425 yards and 15 touchdowns receptions. One of the most productive tight ends in school history. Was part of a 2004 draft class that included six Panthers. Wilson was a second-team All-Big East selection as a senior, as well as a three-time Big East All-Academic honoree. Wilson now enters his seventh NFL season as a member of the San Diego Chargers. He has 46 career catches for 373 yards and five touchdowns in his NFL career.

2000
Vince Crochunis
Schuylkill Haven, PA/Schuylkill Haven Area
Was as valuable to the classroom as he was to Pitt's defensive line for his four seasons. Crochunis was a four-time member of the Big East All-Academic team, and is the only Pitt player to be named Big East Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year. As a player, Crochunis started every game of his sophomore, junior and senior years--a total of 38 starts and 48 career games played. He finished with 176 career tackles, including 22 for a loss. He also had seven sacks. He and Dan Stephens left a big hole in the defensive line when they graduated.

Donny Patrick
Hazleton, PA/Hazleton
One of the more heralded players in the 2000 recruiting class. He redshirted in 2000, then played in a few games in 2001 as a redshirt freshman. He did not catch any passes in 2001, and then transferred to Bloomsburg.

Dustin Picciotti
Chalfont, PA/Central Bucks West
The most heralded member of the 2000 recruiting class. Picciotti sustained a concussion during the Big 33 game, and suffered from the side effects of that concussion. He played in eight games as a true freshman in 2000, carrying the ball seven times for 23 yards. He suffered another concussion in training camp prior to the 2001 season, and did not play that season. He left the program in 2002, then transferred to Rhode Island.

2002
Sam Bryant
Reading, PA/Reading
Redshirted as a true freshman. Played in 47 games in four seasons, starting in 22 of those contests, lettering in each of his four seasons (2003-06.. He finished with 98 career tackles and three interceptions.

John Simonitis
Dallas, PA/Dallas
Redshirted in his freshman year, but eventually became a fixture on the offensive line. Was a three-year starter, playing in a total of 38 career games with 33 starts. He started the first five games of his senior year, before going down with a broken ankle that ended his season, and his career at Pitt. To that point, he was considered the anchor of Pitt's offensive line.

2004
Dave Weber
King of Prussia, PA/Upper Merion
Redshirted in 2004, then played in two games in the 2005 season. Had offseason knee surgery prior to the 2006 season, and was not on the roster by the start of the season.

2006
Aaron Berry
Harrisburg, PA/Bishop McDevitt
Played in 48 career games with 33 career starts. Was a two-time All-Big East selection at cornerback. Finished with six career interceptions, and ended up signing a rookie free agent contract with the Detroit Lions.

Tyler Tkach
Slatington, PA/Northern Lehigh
Has played in 21 career games, having played at defensive end and now defensive tackle throughout his career. He will challenge for a spot in the defensive tackle rotation this season. Also filled out at tight end during 2008 spring drills, due to injuries at the position. Tkach is a two-time selection to the Big East All-Academic Football team.

2007
LeSean McCoy
Harrisburg, PA/Bishop McDevitt
In just two years, McCoy had one of the most prolific careers that any Pitt running back has had. He finished his brief career ranked fourth in school history in rushing yards (2,816), and his two seasons rank among the top eight single-season performances in school history. He was also Big East Rookie of the Year in 2007, and a two-time first-team All-Big East selection.

Pat Bostick
Lancaster, PA/Manheim Township
Was pushed into a starting role as a true freshman. Has thrown for 1,770 yards in 16 career games, which includes nine starts. He also has nine touchdown passes. In those nine starts, Pitt is 4-5, including wins over Notre Dame and West Virginia. Bostick graduated from Pitt in three years, and will battle Tino Sunseri for the starting job this coming season.

John Fieger
Pennsburg, PA/Upper Perkiomen
Redshirted as a true freshman, but has been a mainstay as Pitt's long snapper for the last two seasons.

Jordan Gibbs
Millersville, PA/Penn Manor
Redshirted as a true freshman in 2007, but has been in the battle for starting jobs throughout his career. Took first-team reps in the spring of 2008, as Jason Pinkston recovered from a shoulder injury. Battled Pinkston for the starting job in 2008. He will either be the top reserve at tackle behind Pinkston and Lucas Nix this season, or compete for the starting right guard spot with Greg Gaskins.

Greg Gaskins
York, PA/William Penn
Has moved around throughout his career, but may be ready to start full-time this season. Was recruited to Pitt as a center, then was moved to right tackle after his redshirt year. He was moved to right guard this past spring, as the team looks to fill the vacancy left by John Malecki's graduation. Gaskins is the leading candidate.

Henry Hynoski
Catawissa, PA/Southern Columbia
Was moved to fullback the second he got on campus, and has not looked back. Played in five games as a true freshman, then made the jump to full-time starter in 2009, starting all 13 contests. Has established a reputation as one of the most devastating blockers out of the backfield, as anyone in the country.

Tristan Roberts
Perkasie, PA/Pennridge
Played in all 13 games in his redshirt freshman year, but suffered a setback in 2009 by having to sit out with a shoulder injury. He will push for a starting job at one of the linebacker spots in 2010.

2008
Jared Holley
Easton, PA/Easton
Came to Pitt as a corner, and was redshirted. He played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman, including the final eight as a starter at free safety. He finished the season with 48 tackles and three interceptions. Though he was one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2009 season, he will battle Andrew Taglianetti for the starting job.

Justin Virbitsky
Jermyn, PA/Lakeland
Has been a reserve tight end for all of his career. He provides depth and stability to the postion, and appeared in four games last season to earn his first letter.

2009
Devin Street
Bethlehem, PA/Liberty
Coming off his redshirt year, Street may see the field. Behind Jonathan Baldwin, and other veterans such as Mike Shanahan, Cameron Saddler and Greg Cross, Street appears to be next in line.

Jack Lippert
Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin
The coaching staff wanted to get Lippert on the field as quickly as possible, so they moved him to center. Senior Alex Karabin is the early favorite to win the starting job, but Lippert--whether he wins the battle this year or not--is the future of the position.


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