New Castle News

Pitt

February 7, 2013

Pitt Football: Panthers beef up lines in 2013 recruiting class

PITTSBURGH — There’s a formula Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst likes to use when building a team: start with the inside and go from there.

Given a year to figure out what he’s got on his hands with the Panthers, Chryst hit the recruiting trail this winter with one goal in mind.

“We felt like we wanted to get bigger and the only way to get bigger is to recruit bigger,” Chryst said.

In both size and numbers.

Pitt signed 27 players to letters of intent yesterday, including 10 offensive and defensive linemen that Chryst hopes lays the foundation for the program as it moves from the Big East to the ACC next summer.

The five offensive linemen — Dorian Johnson, Carson Baker, Jaryd-Jones Smith, Alex Officer and Aaron Reese — are all at least 6-foot-4 and weigh 280 pounds or more. The five defensive linemen — Tyrique Jarrett, Luke Maclean, Justin Moody, Shakir Soto and Jeremiah Taleni — are all at least 6-2 with Taleni and Jarrett both listed at 300 pounds or above.

“To a certain extent there is a formula but I don’t think it’s unique to what we did at Wisconsin,” said Chryst, a former offensive coordinator with the Badgers before coming to Pitt 14 months ago. “Any great team has strength in the offensive line and defensive line. We’re not reinventing the wheel there.”

Maybe, but the Panthers are certainly rebranding under Chryst, who went 6-7 in his first season on the job last fall. He’s hoping to do the same at Pitt, which needs to replace two starters along the offensive line and create a more competitive environment at a position that was battered by injuries in 2012.

The linchpin is Johnson, a 6-5, 290-pound star from Belle Vernon (Pa.) High considered one of the top line prospects in the country. Chryst called the high school film on Johnson “as good as you’ll see from an o-lineman” and believes he can make an immediate impact.

“He’s going to get an opportunity, absolutely,” Chryst said. “He’s a special player.”

The Panthers believe they’ve landed more than one in what felt to Chryst like his first real recruiting class. He had the job at Pitt only a handful of weeks last February, the result a 16-player class that included standout freshman running back Rushel Shell but did little to address depth issues.

“We ended up dressing out 53 guys at the bowl game,” he said. “That’s not what you want.”

Pitt had enough leeway this time around to sign both a kicker (Chris Blewitt) and a punter (Ryan Winslow). The core of the skill position players, however, came from the trio of Clairton (Pa.) stars Tyler Boyd, Titus Howard and Terrish Webb.

Boyd, Howard and Webb all starred for a program that is redefining what a high school powerhouse means. The Bears went 48-0 during their final three seasons and won a state title each of their four years in the program. The 6-2, 185-pound Boyd played quarterback, running back and wide receiver in high school but is expected to get his first crack at wide receiver when camp opens in August.

While Howard and Webb were firm commitments all the way through, there appeared to be some last-minute anxiety from Boyd, who was also considering Tennessee and West Virginia among others. Boyd didn’t sign until midmorning yesterday, though Chryst says he was never really worried.

“We don’t get caught up in a lot of the buzz around it and he’s earned the right to have that buzz around him,” Chryst said. “We always felt good about him and what we were saying to him and what he was telling us. We’re certainly really excited to have him because he’s a special person.”

One that could give Pitt’s offense a needed dash of explosiveness alongside senior-to-be Devin Street. Boyd scored 117 touchdowns during his high school career and ran for more than 5,755 yards but showed flashes of what he can do on the outside too, catching 13 passes for 295 yards.

While Boyd talked about working out of the Wildcat formation, Chryst wasn’t quite ready to go that far.

“I think our job is for any player to find ways to get them involved in the offense,” Chryst said. “We will exhaust every way we can for our players to get involved in the offense. I think he’s one, what he’s shown on tape, him talking and his understanding of football, we can put a lot on his plate.”

Getting Boyd, Webb and Howard as a package deal could help the Panthers develop a pipeline to one of the most talent-rich high school programs in the state.

“I know they’re also the type of guys that will keep branching out and it’s not just going to be those three,” Chryst said. “That’s pretty unique.”

Soto, Jarrett, quarterback Tra’Von Chapman and tight end Scott Orndoff have already enrolled and will be available when spring practice begins next month. The rest of the class will have to wait until August, at which point the Panthers will officially be members of the ACC.

Chryst said the conference switch came up on the recruiting trail but he didn’t lean on it as a pitch. He doesn’t think he had to.

“Our focus was on this university and the people here and what we’re trying to do,” he said.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pitt
  • Pitt Football: Panthers beef up lines in 2013 recruiting class

    There’s a formula Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst likes to use when building a team: start with the inside and go from there. Given a year to figure out what he’s got on his hands with the Panthers, Chryst hit the recruiting trail this winter with one goal in mind.

    February 7, 2013

  • d3262194ae25b01c1d0f6a706700680a.jpg ‘Sad Day”: College football guru Beano Cook dies at 81

    Beano Cook, the college football commentator with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport he dearly loved, has died. The 81-year-old Boston native had worked for ESPN since 1986 and was the sports information director at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, from 1956 to 1966. The school announced Thursday that Cook had died in his sleep.

    October 12, 2012 1 Photo

  • Burns1.jpg ‘God was watching over him’: Derrick Burns is finding a way to adjust to life without football

    Everything about Derrick Burns screams football player. The broad shoulders, muscular legs — even the football he constantly carries around with him — make it obvious that the young man with the easy smile has got game.

    September 15, 2012 3 Photos

  • Louisville knocks off Pitt

    Russ Smith scored 18 points, Kyle Kuric added 17 and No. 17 Louisville held on to beat Pittsburgh, 57-54, on Sunday.
    Pittsburgh (15-14, 4-12) cut the lead to one and had three chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but Tray Woodall missed a jumper and senior Ashton Gibbs’ shot from just inside halfcourt as time expired missed off the back iron.

    February 27, 2012

  • cad161b5d4946a04070f6a7067009414.jpg Backyard Basketbrawl: West Virginia storms past Pittsburgh

    West Virginia center Deniz Kilicli doesn't know if he'll get chance to play Pittsburgh again. The next time the rivals face each other on the basketball court, Kilicli could be long gone. The burly center from Turkey didn't miss a chance to give the Mountaineers perhaps the final word in the Backyard Brawl.

    February 17, 2012 1 Photo

  • a33c310757650304070f6a7067009fe0.jpg College Basketball: Ex-Aliquippa star Pope leads Seton Hall past Pitt

    Seton Hall rode some unexpected shooting by a freshman and some steady plays by its seniors to a sorely needed win. Freshman Aaron Cosby made five 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 19 points, while Herb Pope had 19 points and 14 rebounds.

    February 13, 2012 1 Photo

  • Pitt.jpg College Basketball: South Florida ends Pitt winning streak

    South Florida’s Hugh Robertson combined a perfect night offensively with a stellar defensive performance that helped the Bulls rebound from their worst-ever Big East loss.

    February 9, 2012 1 Photo

  • 0fa44d9da3745c03060f6a70670080a0.jpg College Basketball: Woodall leads Pitt past Villanova

    Pittsburgh senior Ashton Gibbs is a happy man now that his backcourt mate, junior Tray Woodall, is back and healthy in the starting lineup. He's almost as happy as Woodall, who recovered from a groin/abdominal strain to turn in one of his best performances of the season.

    February 6, 2012 1 Photo

  • 47d130c23778fc02040f6a706700d3a4.jpg College Basketball: Pitt falls to Louisville for eighth straight loss

    Pittsburgh hoped the return of point guard Tray Woodall and a raucous home crowd would help them finally snap their nearly monthlong losing streak and earn their first Big East win of the season.

    January 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 585cca54355f0901040f6a706700b1a3.jpg College Basketball: Lifeless Pitt loses fifth straight game

    Eli Carter scored 14 points, Dane Miller added 11 points and 12 rebounds and Rutgers crushed reeling Pittsburgh 62-39 on Tuesday night.

    January 12, 2012 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

What is your favorite Easter treat?

Jelly beans
Chocolate ... bunnies, crosses, anything that’s chocolate!
Marshmallow peeps
Decorated eggs
Other
     View Results