Evening, folks. Blog content is going to be a bit light this week due to the open week. Today was the only day of availability we had with players and coaches, and i'll have more from that update as the week goes on. For now, let's take a look at recruiting with the big weekend coming up. Make sure to pick up tomorrow's Post-Gazette for an in-depth story about Tyler Boyd, Dorian Johnson and Robert Foster taking official visits to Pitt this weekend. Here are a couple of news and notes that didn't make the story...
- Tra'von Chapman, originally slated to take an unofficial visit this weekend, now isn't sure. Basically, his father (Thad Jemison) is the wide receivers coach at Kent State, and the Golden Flashes play at Bowling Green this weekend, making it difficult for Jemison to make it to Pittsburgh. Chapman wants to take the trip with both of his parents (his mother lives in Cincinnati), so it might be postponed to a later date.
Either way, Chapman said he wants to take one more visit with his parents before Christmas break. He's slated to enroll early in January, so he's only a few months away from being on campus.
"I think coach Chryst is really trying to shape the culture into his type of team," Chapman said. "I look at it as they almost beat Notre Dame, they were a couple of plays away.
"The losses don’t mean much, as long as those guys go out and play their hearts out. I think they’re doing all they can, really. I’m not going to change my mind because they’re losing or anything like that. When you play your heart out and you lose, it hurts. I know those guys are feeling the pain now because that’s a ball club that works hard."
- I caught up with Johnson on the phone today. He said that, if he does end up going to Pitt, he has spoken to the staff about the possibility of playing as a freshman.
"I would have to work hard," he said. "They also talked about redshirting."
Johnson said playing early would be a factor to him, and he wants to get on the field as soon as possible at whatever school he chooses.
He also said he had a good relationship with this staff, and speaks to offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph on a weekly basis.
"I think right now, they’re in a state of rebuilding," Johnson said. "I think they’re going to have a really good program in the next couple of years with coach Chryst and his staff."
- I also spoke to Rivals national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell to get his thoughts on the upcoming weekend for Pitt. He said the biggest boon for Pitt was getting Boyd to come after his visit to Wisconsin fell through. While Foster is more of a prototypical physical wide receiver, Farrell said he thought Boyd could end up being the bigger get for Pitt.
"That’s the guy who would be an absolute home run," Farrell said. "I think he’s the most important one, even though everyone’s going to disagree with me."
- Pitt is going up against some big-time schools for the services of all three players. Foster is down to Pitt and Alabama, Johnson is choosing between Pitt and Ohio State, and Boyd is thought to favor West Virginia. The three are coming in on Pitt's bye week, giving the coaching staff a little more one-on-one time with all three guys as opposed to game weekend when coaches are busy with the, you know, game. It also highlights the fact that Pitt's gameday atmosphere just isn't a big selling point for recruits. Rather, Paul Chryst and staff will likely focus on local pride and building a program with Western Pennsylvania players, a strategy that Dave Wannstedt used to pretty effectively keep some top local talent at home
"We all know Pitt can’t compete with Alabama and Ohio State as far as a gameday atmosphere, so they’ve got to get these kids together and they’ve got to sell them on local pride," Farrell said.
The other selling point, according to Farrell, is Pitt's impending move to the ACC. It's easier to sell games against Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech, etc., as opposed to Rutgers, Temple and South Florida. Those are programs these guys see on TV and will want to play against in college.