Pitt's homecoming weekend was spoiled with the ugly loss at home to Utah, but with Friday's verbal commitment of running back Rushel Shell to come to the program, Todd Graham's recruiting for 2012 officially took off. The Panthers started slowly this year, but things are looking up.
Back in July, there was the news that quarterback Chad Voytik was becoming a Panther. Then, a few weeks back, offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty announced his intentions to join Pitt. Shell was the second consensus four-star recruit to commit to Pitt and with several months still left until signing day, the class could get even stronger. One of the most encouraging things is that Pitt is getting help in some of the positions where it needs the most help.
The offensive line has long been an issue, and getting Bisnowaty, one of the top linemen in the state, is a coup. Quarterback has been a much-maligned position this season with the struggles of Tino Sunseri and backup Trey Anderson. Voytik may not start immediately next season, but there's a real chance he could get a shot to play if the Sunseri/Anderson duo doesn't look much better in 2012. And while Pitt appears to be set with Ray Graham in the backfield, if he continues his success, there's a chance he could leave early for the NFL Draft, following in the footsteps of Dion Lewis and Lesean McCoy. If he does, Shell is the kind of talent who could step in and play as a freshman.
The other thing to remember is that Graham is bringing in talent he believes is needed for his offensive and defensive systems to succeed. There are quality players on his team, but they might not necessarily be able to excel in those systems. Not only is Graham landing skilled athletes, he's (hopefully) finding the right ones needed to make his team a winner.
So with some considerable talent pledging their allegiance to Pitt, where does the class stand now?
Scout now lists Pitt at No. 17 while Rivals' ranks Pitt's class at No. 31. Part of the disparity between the two sites is that Scout declares Shell a five-star recruit, but Rivals only calls him a four-star.
A big knock on Graham was that he may not have been able to recruit in the area. He previously was an assistant at West Virginia, but his head coaching experience was in the south and midwest with stops at Tulsa and Rice. But thus far, that hasn't been the case as Graham has landed plenty of local talent, including Shell, Bisnowaty, Corey Jones, and several other commitments from area kids.
Pitt hasn't had much success on the field this season, but Graham is starting to put together a class that might change that in the future.