Pitt added over 600 pounds of bulk to its 2013 recruiting class Tuesday, when Paul Chryst and company secured verbal commitments from two prospects along the offensive and defensive line.
First, the Panthers added West Catholic (Philadelphia) OL Jaryd Jones-Smith. Jones-Smith made the decision at his high school Tuesday afternoon, and chose the Panthers over his other finalist, Virginia. Jones-Smith also had offers from Arizona, Wisconsin, N.C. State, Temple, Michigan, UCF and Vanderbilt.
Jones-Smith is listed as a 2-star prospect on Rivals, and 3-star on Scout and ESPN. The biggest thing with him, though, is his size. His high school coach, Brian Fluck, says Jones-Smith is 6-foot-7, 320-pounds. The Pitt coaches will probably have him shed a little bit of that weight before he arrives, but that's still a giant frame to work with.
"I think he’s really going to blossom when he gets to the next level because he’s still young, still raw at times," Fluck said. "He has very good feet."
"When he hits the weight room, training, I think he’s just going to explode."
Fluck noted that Jones-Smith has only been playing on the offensive side of the ball since July of his junior year, so he has plenty of room to grow.
Jones-Smith was primarily recruited by offensive line coach Jim Hueber, a Philadelphia native. Fluck said Jones-Smith's connection with Hueber, as well as the rest of the coaching staff, was a big factor in his decision.
"In this process, he really connected with the coaching staff, really had confidence in them that they’ll make him a better player," Fluck said.
Jones-Smith is the fifth offensive lineman for Pitt in this recruiting class, which tells you something about how the coaching staff wants to build this team going forward. Chryst's successful teams at Wisconsin were built around giant offensive lines, so this is certainly a step in that direction. Offensive line is also one of the areas hurt most by all the coaching instability at Pitt, because it's a position where numbers are far more important than star power.
Here are some YouTube highlights of Jones-Smith if you're interested:
The second player Pitt received a verbal from yesterday was Kailua, Hawaii, defensive lineman Jeremiah Taleni.
Taleni is listed as a 2-star on Rivals and 24/7 but, by my search, doesn't have a profile on ESPN or Scout. He also had scholarship offers from UMass and Washington St.
Again, with him, the biggest thing is his size and raw physical ability. Taleni is listed at 6-foot-2, 315 pounds and should benefit once he gets into a college weight room.
Taleni is the sixth defensive lineman in this class for Pitt (including early enrollees Tyrique Jarrett and Shakir Soto) so, once again, it's an area that Chryst and his staff really think they need to stock up on in their first full recruiting class.
Here are some YouTube highlights of Taleni:
That puts Pitt at 21 commitments in this class, not including the four early enrollees. I've heard that Pitt wants to take as many kids as it can this year, so that leaves four spots available in the 2013 class (since they can backdate the early enrollees to last year's class). The problem is that Pitt only has 23 spots available on its 85-man limit (and Tom Savage still needs a scholarship, presumably), so they'll have to get a bit creative with some scholarship numbers. We've got three weeks until signing day, so plenty of time to let it all play out.