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Counting down to signing day 2014: Wide receivers

Written by Sam Werner on .

Another day, another look at the high school seniors expected to sign with Pitt in exactly one week. Today, let's take a look at the receiving corps Pitt will bring in this year...

Verbal commitments:
Adonis Jennings (6-3, 190 lbs)
Timber Creek High School (Sicklerville, N.J.)
Rivals: 4*, No. 38 WR
Scout: 3*, No. 92 WR
247: 4*, No. 43 WR

Elijah Zeise (6-2, 185 lbs)
North Allegheny High School (Wexford, Pa.)
Rivals: 3*, No. 98 WR
Scout: 3*, No. 102 WR
247: 3*, No. 38 ATH

Jaquan Davidson (6-2, 173 lbs)
Elizabeth Forward High School (Elizabeth, Pa.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 136 WR
247: 3*, No. 20 Dual-threat QB

At the end of the day, the relatively late commitment of Adonis Jennings may be one of the most important Pitt got in this class. Just as it was this season, wide receiver is a bit of a question mark heading into 2014. Tyler Boyd will obviously be the star, but the starting job across from him is wide open, as are the other rotation spots at the position. That said, there are a lot of guys who could be contenders for that spot. In terms of returning guys, I would expect Kevin Weatherspoon and Chris Wuestner to be contenders for playing time, and the group will get a boost from the return of Ronald Jones and the addition of Dontez Ford. Pitt also had three guys (Zach Challingsworth, Reggie Green and Jester Weah) redshirt this year who could battle for playing time next year. From what I hear, Challingsworth seems like the most likely to grab a starting job.
Even with all those guys, though. Jennings will definitely be in the mix for playing time. He's got a really nice frame at 6-3 and 190 pounds and, from watching some of his tape, he looks a little bit faster than maybe people are giving him credit for. While I think at least one or two of the younger, less-heralded guys on the roster will pan out as good college receivers, it's nice to have a guy with Jennings' pedigree on the roster.
Zeise and Davidson are both probably redshirt candidates, but both have some potential long-term. Zeise is a really good, long, athlete who still has room to put some weight on and could end up as a really good physical receiver. Davidson is a bit smaller, but looks much faster than his rankings might indicate.

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Four Robert Morris players suspended from university for one year

Written by Craig Meyer on .

 Four Robert Morris University basketball players, including standout forward Jeremiah Worthem, are suspended from the university for a year for their alleged involvement in unspecified activities, the school confirmed this morning.

The university last week said that Worthem and fellow Colonials Britton Lee, Evan Grey and Shaire Tolson-Ford were suspended from the team for what were described as violations of university policy, but it was not specified how long the suspensions would be, nor were their respective statuses as students clarified.

The alleged transgression “carries a mandatory one-year suspension from Robert Morris,” school spokesman Jonathan Potts told the Post-Gazette.

He reiterated the university’s position that it will not specify the nature of the alleged violation of university rules.

“No criminal charges will be filed in this matter. Out of respect for these young men's privacy, we will not be disclosing further details,” Potts said today. “As RMU Athletic Director Craig Coleman stated last week, we trust that these young men have learned from their mistake and will become better individuals as a result.”

Potts added in a later email that the four suspended players may be permitted to re-enroll for the spring 2015 semester. Robert Morris coach Andy Toole did not indicate whether the players would be welcomed back to the team when the university’s suspension ends.

“That’s something we’ll talk about when the suspension runs out," Toole said.

As recently as Tuesday of last week, the four players had worked out as team members. The suspensions were handed down before Thursday’s win against Sacred Heart University.

The loss of Worthem is a particularly significant blow. The 6-foot-6 freshman and starting forward from Philadelphia had averaged 8.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He was also the Northeast Conference rookie of the week last week after averaging 16.5 points in victories against Saint Francis and Mount St. Mary's on Jan. 16 and Jan. 18, respectively.

Lee, a fellow freshman from Philadelphia, appeared in only four games this season while Grey and Tolson-Ford are both walk-ons. 

Potts did not specify whether campus disciplinary proceedings were pending or had been completed.

The suspensions and absences of two other players -- forward/center Mike McFadden and guard Desjuan Newton -- who are deciding whether to return to the team effectively reduced its squad to eight members. The Colonials have won their past six games, giving them their first-ever 6-0 start in NEC play.

Despite the recent transgressions by some of his players, Toole noted that adherence to rules is something that's consistently espoused by Robert Morris coaches and officials.

"There’s not many weeks that go by where we don’t discuss how you have to try to conduct yourself and handle yourself on campus, in the community, in class because regardless of what’s happened the past week, there have always been a lot of eyes on our program and our players," he said. "So making the right decisions and doing the right things is something we stress on a daily basis. I wish we could get the message through to everybody all the time, but it unfortunately doesn’t work that way.”

Even with that recent success, remaining players reiterated how much the suspensions have hurt the team, both from a basketball and personal standpoint.

"I know they’re not allowed at Robert Morris games right now, but we still keep in contact," forward Lucky Jones said. "They’re still our brothers. We still have a lot of love for them and hopefully wherever they go, they continue their basketball career and do something special with it.”

Senior guard Karvel Anderson, the Colonials' leading scorer, echoed Jones' sentiments about the loss of the four players, particularly Worthem.

“It definitely hurts," Anderson said. "That’s a brother to all of us. This is a family, so whenever you lose one of your family members, that always hurts. We think about that all the time, but at the same time, on the court, it would be a shame for that to happen and for us to let go of what we’ve been trying to accomplish.

"Something like that hurts, especially for someone like Jeremiah. He was doing really well here and he was starting to get things, so that hurts him. Our relationship, personally, didn’t change at all. We have each other’s best interests at heart. Whatever he does going forward, I know he’s going to do to the best of his ability.”

- By Craig Meyer and Bill Schackner

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I'm colder than you are

Written by Brady McCollough on .

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This one was really super.

Written by Dan Gigler on .

0128 stallworth

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Sabres' Weber on Pittsburgh NHLers: 'There’s a lot of us now in the league' - 01-28-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Labeling Mike Weber (above) as a Western Pennsylvania product would be accurate. At the same time, it would be a bit of an understatement.

Growing up, Weber lived for portions of his life in Cranberry, Mars and Center and other northwest suburbs of Pittsburgh.

(For the record, he identifies himself as a Cranberry native.)

At this moment, Weber calls Western New York home as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

While the Sabres have had a dreadful season with a 14-30-7 record, the rugged defenseman has enjoyed some personal success. He has appeared in 37 games already this season, a total approaching his career best of 42 and was named an alternate captain earlier this season.

Prior to his team's game against the Penguins last night, Weber talked about the journey from Cranberry (Mars and Center) to the NHL.

What's your road to the NHL been like?

"It’s been a long one. You grow up, you watch [Mario] Lemieux, [Jaromir] Jagr and seeing players like that, you don’t know if you have what it takes. You always dream you want to be there. You don’t know if you have what it takes. Though the years, I found a way to make my dream kind of come true. It’s just a lot of hard work. You have a lot of people telling you you can’t do it. You find a way to battle. My parents did a good job. Playing on two teams, I’d play on a AA team back home then they’d drive me across the border into Ohio. I played in Youngstown there for a AA team. Just trying to get as much ice time as I possibly could."

"There’s a local coach, Bob Hawthorne, he coached a Beaver County AA team for a lot years, won a lot of state championships and things like that. He always let me come out for extra ice team. You remember people like that that helped you out. A junior B coach here at the time for the Pittsburgh Junior B Penguins and gave me a chance at 14 years old to play. From there, drafted into the OHL (by the Windsor Spitfires) and got an eye-opener and realized that I could make this a job. 15, 16 years old when I went to Canada. It’s been awesome. I get goosebumps every time that airplane touches down at [Pittsburgh International Airport], coming home and playing in the NHL."

Was there a stigma against kids from Pittsburgh or other areas of the country that didn't produce as many players compared to places such as New England or the Upper Midwest?

"I think so. Now, you’re starting to see more and more coming up from out of Pittsburgh. It’s an exciting thing. It’s one of those things that people don’t realize how hard it is to get to the level and how hard you have to work and how many sacrifices you have to make family-wise and friendship-wise and kid-wise. You’re moving around a lot. If you want to play this game hard you have to move around and do anything to find your way [to the NHL]. I remember getting told a lot of times, it’s tough for a kid to make it from Pittsburgh. There’s a lot of us now in the league so it’s nice."

Do you keep tabs on other Pittsburgh-area players like the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger or the Avalanche's Nate Guenin?

"Those guys are a lot older than me but I’ve obviously met them and talked with them. Those were the guys that were first breaking through when I was a kid that were drafted and getting into the NHL and those were the guys you looked up to. If they could do it, I could do it."

You're almost in between those older guys and some of the younger players such as the Blackhawks' Brandon Saad or the Rangers' J.T. Miller.

"Those are the young guys now that are coming up. That’s huge for Pittsburgh. Saad gets a Stanley Cup. It’s real exciting obviously what Lemieux and those guys what those guys have done for the city in the aspect of getting kids involved in hockey. They’ve got a beautiful arena now. Talking to my dad, there’s arenas and [remodeled arenas] and things going up all over the city. They’ve got more kids than ever playing hockey so it’s exciting."

What are your earliest memories of hockey?

"I remember listening to this guy [Root Sports announcer Paul Steigerwald] call all the games. A lot of times, if you couldn’t see the games, I remember listing to [WDVE-FM] to the games on my way from practice or on the way to tournaments."

What has this season been like? Your team hasn't had much success but you're having some individual success by playing in more games and being named an alternate captain.

"Statistically, it hasn’t been the best. It’s tough. We were finding a way to lose games and not scoring at all. It’s tough to stay on the positive side of things. Lately we’ve been coming around. I’m a guy, I try to keep it as level as I can. There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs in your career. You’ve got to try and find a way to keep it pretty level and come to the rink everyday with a willingness to put your skates on and find a way to make your self better and your team better."

(Photo: Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

 

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