For many college football fans, National Signing Day is one of the most exciting times during the offseason. At Pitt, Paul Chryst and the Panthers football staff received 23 letters of intent, shaping up a well-rounded Class of 2014.
This is Chryst’s third incoming class, which means that the majority of Panthers playing at Heinz Field will be the foundation of much-needed stability for the program.
Updating from my previous recruiting report, Pitt did not add any additional commitments, but they did lose one. Quarterback prospect Wade Freebeck had a change of heart and switched his commitment to Vanderbilt, where he will be closer to his hometown in Florida and will get a chance to start in the SEC.
The loss of Freebeck is not the end of the world, but Pitt is once again very slim at the quarterback position. Hopefully redshirt sophomore Chad Voytik will take over at the helm and we won’t be complaining about Pitt’s QB play. He showed much promise at the end of the Little Caesars Bowl, though he had limited playing time throughout the season.
Trey Anderson and incoming 6-foot-6 freshmen Adam Bertke from Maria Stein, Ohio, will likely be the backups to Voytik. It certainly hurts missing out on 6-4 ESPN four-star QB Freebeck, but time will tell how big of a blow this is.
Scout has Pitt’s class ranked No. 42 in recruiting (seventh in the ACC, behind No. 3 FSU, No. 11 Miami, FL, No. 25 NC State, No. 27 Clemson, No. 31 North Carolina and No. 36 Virginia Tech). Rivals has Pitt at No. 44.
Some other exciting prospects include Scout and Rivals four-star RB Chris James from Niles, Ill., and three-star RB Qadree Ollison from Buffalo, N.Y. These two will likely follow a long lineage of impact backs for Pitt.
Judging by the offensive line prospects that Chryst has landed, Pitt may soon have one of the biggest lines in the country. ESPN four-star 6-6 tackle Alex Bookster, Rivals four-star 6-6 OT Michael Grimm, and 6-5 OT Mike Herndon will look to add strength to the Pitt line and protection for the rest of the team. Regarding the offensive line, Chryst indicated, “We’re just starting to get our O-line numbers right.”
It is important to note that recruiting rankings are exciting to study and compare, but they do not always correlate with success on the field. RB James Conner is a prime example of a low-star recruit who turned out to be an impact freshman last season. Following the WR lineage, look for 6-2 ESPN and Rivals four-star Adonis Jennings (Sicklerville, N.J.) to be an instant contributor.
I also suggest checking out Pitt National Signing Day coverage from Matt Shetler on City of Champions. In addition to City of Champions, recruiting sites Pittsburgh.scout.com, Pittsburgh.rivals.com and ESPN NCAAF Recruiting have continued coverage on signings and updated player rankings.
Pitt Football Signees:
- OT (Scout 13, 4*) (Rivals 25, 4*) (ESPN 13, 4*) Alex Bookser (Mt. Lebanon SHS) Pittsburgh, PA 6-6/295
- RB (Scout 22, 4*) (Rivals 23, 4*) (ESPN 48, 3*) Chris James (Notre Dame College Prep) Niles, IL 5-10/207
- WR (Scout 136, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 136, 3*) JaQuan Davidson (Elizabeth Forward SHS) Elizabeth, PA 6-3/180
- RB (Scout 43, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 97, 3*) Qadree Ollison (Canisius HS) Buffalo, NY 6-1/225
- CB (Scout 103, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 168, 3*) Phillipie Motley (Hilliard Davidson HS) Hilliard, OH 6-0/175
- WR (Scout 102, 3*) (Rivals 92, 3*) (ESPN 70, 3*) Elijah Zeise (North Allegheny SHS) Wexford, PA 6-2/186
- TE (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals NR, 2*) (ESPN 33, 3*) Brian O’Neil (Salesianum School) Wilmington, DE 6-5/220
- DE (Scout 76, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 95, 3*) Shane Roy (Reading Community HS) Reading, OH 6-4/235
- OT (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 136, 3*) Mike Herndon (Riverheads HS) Staunton, VA 6-5/320
- OG (Scout 89, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 68, 3*) Connor Dintino (Choate Rosemary Hall) Wallingford, CT 6-3.5/300
- OLB (Scout 111, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 37, 3*) Quintin Wirginis (Fox Chapel Area SHS) Pittsburgh, PA 6-2/225
- OT (Scout 67, 3*) (Rivals 28, 4*) (ESPN 50, 3*) Michael Grimm (Bethel Park SHS) Bethel Park, PA 6-6/311
- CB (Scout 37, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 105, 3*) Avonte Maddox (King HS) Detroit, MI 5-9/160/4.39
- DB (Scout 174, 3*) (Rivals NR, 2*) (ESPN 121, 3*) Patrick Amara (West Philadelphia HS) Philadelphia, PA 6-2/182
- RB (Scout 111, 3*) (Rivals NR, 2*) (ESPN 132, 3*) Dennis Briggs (Shady Side Academy Senior School) Pittsburgh, PA 5-10/185
- QB (Scout 50, 3*) (Rivals NR, 2*) (ESPN 24, 3*) Adam Bertke (Marion HS) Maria Stein, OH 6-6/200
- S (Scout 113, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 113, 3*) Jalen Williams (Newburgh Free Academy) Newburgh, NY 6-1/180
- OG (Scout 67, 3*) (Rivals 29, 3*) (ESPN 83, 3*) Connor Hayes (Traverse City West Senior H.) Traverse City, MI 6-4/280
- OLB (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals NR, 2*) (ESPN 117, 3*) Rori Blair (Upper Saint Clair HS) Upper Saint Clair, PA 6-4/205
- OLB (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals NR, 2*) (ESPN NR, NR) James Folston Jr. (Cocoa HS) Cocoa, FL 6-2/200
- DE (Scout NR, 2*) (Rivals NR, 2*) (ESPN NR, NR ) Hezekiah Trahan (Roman Catholic HS) Philadelphia, PA 6-4/250
- OLB (Scout 100, 3*) (Rivals NR, 3*) (ESPN 122, 3*) Jamal Davis (McKinley HS) Canton, OH 6-3/215
- WR (Scout 92, 3*) (Rivals 38, 4*) (ESPN 19, 4*) Adonis Jennings (Timber Creek HS) Sicklerville, NJ 6-2/183
Brett is a Pitt staff writer at City of Champions. Follow him on Twitter @BJoseph21.