Phil Steele recently broke down the returning starters for every team in the nation and the Panthers return 15 guys that started at one time or another during the 2011 season.
He has Pitt bringing back 15 starters, eight on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Tino Sunseri, five on the defensive side of the ball and both kickers.
According to Steele, that ranks the Panthers 44th nationally and fourth in the Big East Conference, behind South Florida (18), Connecticut (17) and West Virginia (16).
So where does Chryst go from here?
Here are a few things the Panthers need from Wednesday’s National Signing Day.
Offensively, despite bringing back eight starters, no one other than running back Ray Graham should be viewed as a quality starter.
It’s hard to imagine another up and down season from Sunseri under center, but that’s where the Panthers may be headed.
The verbal commitment from Scout.com 4-star recruit Chad Voytik is huge for Pitt, and with a new coach in place, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Voytik be given a shot right off the bat. But if I were Chryst, I’d also want to bring in another quarterback as a contingency plan.
Assuming Ray Graham can come back healthy from his mid-season knee injury, it will be interesting to see if he can build on his outstanding start to the 2011 season.
If not, there is still sophomore Isaac Bennett and the excitement of Scout.com 5-star recruit Rushel Shell, who gave a verbal commitment to Pitt in October.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
If there is one area among skill position players where Chryst needs to make an impact, it’s on the outside.
Baring a late surprise though, that may have to wait until next season.
So far, Pitt has a trio of Scout.com 3-star recruits who’ve offered up verbal commitments in brothers Chris and Demitrious Davis and Trenton Coles.
For Pitt’s sake, hopefully someone of that group can emerge as a threat, but I wouldn’t expect a Sammy Watkins type of impact from anyone.
As for the tight end position, Hubie Graham did some nice things and returns as the starter, but Pitt also got a verbal commitment from 4-star tight end J.P. Holtz from Shaler High School.
We all know about the massive upgrade needed on the Pitt offensive line. The change in scheme may help some, but some added talent will help out even more.
This is priority No. 1 for Chryst, but so far things aren’t looking good.
So far there is only a soft verbal commitment from Scout.com 3-star recruit Adam Pankey and a verbal commitment from 3-star tackle Adam Bisnowaty from Fox Chapel.
Aaron Donald is back though, and it will be interesting to see what he can do as an encore during his junior season.
So far, Chryst has two verbal commitments from 3-star guys Tyrique Jarrett and Darryl Render, and a soft verbal commitment from Scout.com 3-star recruit Myles Hilliard.
Pitt could use some more young talent to beef up the numbers up front.
So far there are three linebackers to verbally commit, but nothing to get excited about—a pair of 2-star guys and a Scout.com 3-star player in outside linebacker Alkwan Williams.
There’s also a collection of now sophomores and juniors that should be ready to contribute.
The defensive backfield is one area where you can’t have too much talent, though.
So far Pitt has a soft verbal commitment from Scout.com 2-star cornerback William Parks and verbal commitments from 2-star corner Ryan Lewis and 3-star Marzett Geter.
A cover guy with speed would be a nice addition come Wednesday.