New Pitt head coach Todd Graham utilized his Texas and Oklahoma roots and warmed up relations in Western Pennsylvania to pull together a surprising 20-man class after just three weeks on the job.
The star of the class is Lafayette Pitts, who first committed to Pitt when Dave Wannstedt and Jeff Hafley were around, but then committed with Rutgers.
Once Graham brought in Lafayette’s cousin, defensive back Javonte Pitts, Lafayette decided to give the Panthers a third look.
Even though he is only listed with three stars by Rivals.com, Lafayette Pitts is considered to be the star of the class.
Pitts’ recruitment demonstrates Graham’s commitment to Western Pennsylvania players. That Graham and his staff worked overtime to reel in Lafayette shows coaches in the region Pitt is still open for business.
Former Pitt coaches Johnny Majors and Jackie Sherrill had the same message for Graham: Winning a national championship goes through Western PA.
Signing Pitts is a significant recruitment victory.
"We felt (Pitts) he was the key for us," said Graham, a former high school coach. "We went through a lot of drama, but he was a must for us," (trib-live.com, Feb. 3, 2011).
Graham nabbed two 4-star recruits in Nicholas Grisby and Khaynin Mosley-Smith, ten 3-star recruits and eight 2-star recruits in his unheralded class of 20.
Before Wannstedt was fired, Pitt’s class was ranked in the top 25. What Graham was able to add in just a few weeks were six defensive backs and four running backs.
At best, Pitt’s class would be ranked fifth in the Big East after Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati and West Virginia.
Recruiting ranks are often wrong and certainly don’t factor in obstacles like those faced by the Panthers after two coaches were fired in a month.
If the energy and focus the new Pitt staff under Graham exhibited in the recruiting process is a prelude to the kind of spirit de corps fans can expect to see on the field next season, Big East championships will become Pitt’s best recruiting tool.