Hope everyone had an enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday and had enough chicken wings to get through the blackout. Back to business, we’ve got just two days until Pitt signs its 2013 class of recruits. We’ll double-up on these posts today and tomorrow to get all the positions groups in. So we’ll do defensive line now, followed by linebackers this afternoon. Tomorrow will be defensive backs and specialists.
Now, the defensive line...
Note: Probably because he’s listed as a defensive end all over the place, I blanked on including James Conner in the running backs post. He’ll definitely start out as a RB for Pitt, so I went back and added him to that post, as well as tacked on some thoughts about him.
Shakir Soto, DE (6-3, 238 lbs)
G.A.R. Memorial High School (Wilkes Barre, Pa.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 48 DE
ESPN: 3*, No. 65 DE
Tyrique Jarrett, DT (6-4, 315 lbs)
Allderdice High School (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 28 DT
ESPN: 3*, No. 76 DT
Luke Maclean (6-3, 235 lbs)
Grand Blanc High School (Grand Blanc, Mich.)
Rivals: 3*, No. 27 Weakside DE
Scout: 3*, No. 47 OLB
ESPN: 3*, No. 58 ILB
Justin Moody (6-3, 265 lbs)
George Washington High School (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Rivals: 3*, No. 34 Strongside DE
Scout: 3*, No. 50 DT
ESPN: 3* No. 61 DT
Jeremiah Taleni (6-2, 315 lbs)
Kailua High School (Kailua, Hawaii)
Rivals: 2*, NR
Scout: 2*, No. 94 DT
ESPN: 3*, No. 113 DT
Remaining targets: None.
Like wide receiver, this is another position where Pitt is very thin heading into 2013. The Panthers will lose two defensive ends from last year with Shayne Hale, a guy who really came on late in the year to be a factor, graduating and T.J. Clemmings moving to the offensive line. Aaron Donald and Tyrone Ezell are probably going to be pretty entrenched as starters in the middle, but there’s playing time to be had for young guys at the end positions. Keep in mind that the defensive line is one of the most rotation-heavy positions in college football, so there’s enough playing time to go around for plenty of guys.
Looking at this class, Tyrique Jarrett and Jeremiah Taleni are pretty prototypical inside defensive tackles. They’ll likely project at the nose tackle position currently occupied by Ezell. Jarrett might have a shot at seeing the field this year if he can make great strides as an early enrollee, but I think both these guys are more likely to redshirt. Like on the offensive line, a year in the weight room can be invaluable for guys to learn how to use their size and strength in the most advantageous way.
Justin Moody will probably end up playing the three-technique in this 4-3 defense (Donald’s current position). He’ll likely redshirt, but a year of learning in practice from Donald, one of the best defensive lineman in the country (and, most importantly, one of the best at creating leverage using his size and speed) should pay dividends for Moody. This is a position where Pitt also has Darryl Render and Terrell Jackson waiting in the wings.
Finally, as for the ends, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a guy like Soto impress the coaches during the spring and potentially work his way onto the field this fall. Pitt has Devin Cook (a guy who I think could break out next year) and Bryan Murphy coming back as returning starters, but the position is in need of depth. Jack Lippert and LaQuentin Smith are there, but are largely unproven. In that respect, Soto has just as good a shot as anybody to win a spot in the rotation during spring camp. He’ll need to put on a little weight, but that shouldn’t be a problem with winter and summer workouts ahead of him, too.