Posted: 2:59 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013
After a slow start, football coach Paul Chryst finally started adding players to Pitt's recruiting class this year. The Panthers currently have 16 recruits and it's hard to believe they had only two about six weeks ago.
Of that group, though, Pitt has taken in quite a few lower-ranked players. Per Rivals, seven of those recruits are two-star or unranked players, in the case of Rori Blair. The number is even greater with Scout as they project ten such players (though, their list doesn't appear to be as up-to-date, still counting Marcus Collins and not listing Blair).
The class, in its current composition, is on pace for the biggest percentage (44%) of two-star/unranked players since 2005. Pitt, ironically, was coming off of their only BCS appearance, but that class was put together after head coach Walt Harris left for Stanford. The 2005 class had an astounding 12 of their 23 recruits listed as two-star players.
The recruiting thus far for 2014 hasn't been amazing, but before panic mode sets in, Pitt is still in the mix for several big time players. There's still a very long way to go in terms of what the final class looks like.
One thing often not taken into account is how much Pitt has been down these past couple of years. After the Mike Haywood debacle, the team took a big step back under Todd Graham as they tried to play in a system with which they had no experience. They took another step back when that system was replaced under current head coach Paul Chryst. Over the past two years, Pitt has been a sub .500 12-14. Results like that often make it difficult to land top talent and the fact that the program is having to gamble on some lower-ranked players isn't all that surprising.
That said, there's also something to be said for the amount of early offers Pitt gave to lower recruits. The theory is that they want to jump on some of those guys before they land other offers after a big senior season. But like I said before, the Dan Samuelson situation was further proof that verbals are hardly set in stone. Offering a lower-ranked recruit might help to bring him in and stave off other programs, but it's not a surefire guarantee of loyalty.
Despite that, though, I'm willing to give Chryst the benefit of the doubt mostly because he's put together two classes that were about as good as could be expected in 2012 and 2013. We're several months away from seeing the final class and things can change dramatically by then.