Pitt announces 2012 recruiting class

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(Here’s Pittsburgh’s press release on the Panthers’ 2012 recruiting class.)

Adam Bisnowaty, OL, 6-6, 275, Cheswick, Pa., Fox Chapel
A national-caliber offensive line prospect who was one of Pennsylvania’s most heavily recruited players…three-year starter at Fox Chapel who played offensive guard and tackle during his career…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Pennsylvania and the nation’s No. 19 offensive tackle by Rivals…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”… Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA…also was an “All-Big East” performer at defensive tackle…led team to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs as a senior…played under Coach Eric Ravotti.

Bam Bradley, S, 6-2, 200, Trotwood, Ohio, Trotwood-Madison
Big-play defensive back for undefeated Ohio Division II state champion Trotwood-Madison…two-time Associated Press All-Ohio Division II honoree…Ohio Southwest District Division II Defensive Player of the Year…compiled 60 tackles, five interceptions (returning two for touchdowns) and two fumble recoveries as a senior…was a varsity starter since his freshman season…Bradley led Trotwood-Madison to a 15-0 record and the state title as a senior…his final two seasons, Trotwood-Madison went a combined 27-3 (.900) with two state championship game berths…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…rated one of Ohio’s top 45 players by Rivals and Scout…played under Coach Maurice Douglass…Bam is the younger brother of Pitt redshirt freshman linebacker Nicholas Grigsby.

Mike Caprara, LB, 6-0, 205, Turtle Creek, Pa., Woodland Hills
Finished his career as Woodland Hills’ all-time tackling leader with more than 350 stops…earned a starting role midway through his freshman season and started every single game his final three years…playing middle linebacker, spearheaded a defense that held opponents to 14.2 points per game his senior year…also was a starting fullback/H-back on offense and scored two touchdowns…had a career-high 122 tackles as a junior and was named first team All-State Class AAAA by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers, Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAA and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…led team to a four-year record of 31-16 (.660) with four WPIAL playoff berths…helped Woodland Hills to the 2009 WPIAL championship and PIAA playoffs as a sophomore…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…played under Coach George Novak.

Trenton Coles, DB, 6-3, 175, Clairton, Pa., Clairton
A standout on both sides of the ball for perennial Class A power Clairton as a receiver and defensive back…selected first team All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…over his final three varsity seasons, led Clairton to a 47-1 record, three WPIAL Class A championships and three PIAA state titles…Coles was part of a WPIAL-record 47-game winning streak to close his varsity football career…in addition to receiver and defensive back, he also contributed as a PAT specialist…averaged 19.4 yards per catch as a senior (21 receptions for 408 yards)…also had 16 rushes for 96 yards (6.0 avg.)…compiled 80 total points (nine touchdowns and 26 PATs)…Coles also shined in track and basketball at Clairton…swept the 100- and 200-meter sprints at the 2011 WPIAL and PIAA championship meets…is a third-generation state gold medalist in track (mother Marla Puryear and grandfather Norman Jones also won state 100-meter titles)…selected the 2010-11 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Male Athlete of the Year…sustained a knee injury in the state football championship game and will miss the 2011-12 basketball and track seasons while rehabilitating…rated the No. 34 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals…played under Coach Tom Nola.

Chris Davis, WR, 5-9, 185, Austintown, Ohio, Austintown Fitch
Two-way standout at receiver and defensive back for Austintown Fitch…Northeastern Ohio Inland All-District…All-Federal League…caught nearly 50 passes over his final two seasons…as a junior, compiled 748 all-purpose yards to lead Fitch to a 10-2 record, the Federal League championship and Ohio Division I playoffs…rated one of the top 40 players in Ohio by Rivals…played under Coach Phil Annarella…joins his twin brother, Demitrious Davis, as one of two Fitch products to sign with Pitt this year.

Demitrious Davis, WR, 5-10, 185, Austintown, Ohio, Austintown Fitch
One of Northeast Ohio’s top prospects despite playing in only three games as a senior due to a knee injury…was an athletic quarterback for Austintown Fitch who enjoyed a decorated junior season…Davis’ 2010 honors included Associated Press first team All-Ohio Division I (largest classification), Northeastern Ohio Inland District Offensive Player of the Year and Federal League Player of the Year…was a 1,000-yard rusher and passer his junior season…ran for 1,202 yards and 20 touchdowns…also threw for 1,024 yards, hitting 62% of his passes (65 of 105)…threw 10 TDs against only two interceptions…led Fitch to a 10-2 record, the Federal League championship and Ohio Division I playoffs…rated one of the top 40 players in Ohio by Rivals…played under Coach Phil Annarella…joins his twin brother, Chris Davis, as one of two Fitch products to sign with Pitt this year.

J.P. Holtz, TE, 6-4, 230, Pittsburgh, Pa., Shaler Area
One of the WPIAL’s most versatile, and highly recruited, players…contributed at no fewer than five different positions during his Shaler Area varsity career, including running back, receiver, tight end, linebacker and punter…played quarterback as a freshman…considered one of the country’s top tight end prospects…rated the nation’s No. 10 tight end by Scout…as a senior, rushed for 337 yards on 72 carries, caught 19 passes for 332 yards and scored 15 touchdowns…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class AAAAPittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…All-Northern Seven…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…rated Pennsylvania’s No. 10 overall prospect by Scout and No. 24 by Rivals…led Shaler to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs as a senior…played under Coach Neil Gordon

Terrell Jackson, DL, 6-3, 285, Columbus, Ohio, Marion-Franklin
Established himself as one of the top defensive linemen in the state of Ohio after compiling 75 tackles and 20 sacks as a senior at Marion-Franklin…Associated Press All-Ohio Division II (first team)…Ohio Central District Division II Defensive Player of the Year…The Columbus Dispatch first team All-Metro…selected to play in the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association (OHSFCA) North-South Classic…led team to a 13-1 record, the Columbus City League South championship and the semifinals of the Ohio Division II state playoffs…rated one of the top 45 prospects in Ohio by Rivals…played under Coach Brian Haffele.

Ryan Lewis, DB, 6-0, 185, Sammamish, Wash., Eastlake
Led all classifications in the state of Washington with more than 1,700 yards rushing as a senior at Eastlake…first team Associated Press Washington Class 4A All-State…All-KingCo 4A Crest Division…averaged nearly 9.5 yards per carry en route to 1,706 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns…led Eastlake to a 10-2 record and the quarterfinals of the WIAA Class 4A playoffs…rated the No. 13 prospect in the state of Washington by Scout…played under Coach Gene Dales…Lewis owns significant family ties to Pitt…is the nephew of former Pitt cornerback Tim Lewis (1979-82), a first-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers who is now the secondary coach for the Atlanta Falcons…cousin is Tristan Roberts, who played linebacker for the Panthers from 2007-11…Ryan’s father, Will Lewis, is the vice president of pro personnel for the Seattle Seahawks.

Jahmahl Pardner, DB, 5-11, 170, Rochester, N.Y., Aquinas Institute
Considered one of the top prospects in the state of New York, excelling as a receiver, defensive back and punt returner…New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) first team Class A All-State…All-Greater Rochester…averaged 17.3 yards per catch as a senior with 43 receptions for 745 yards and 11 touchdowns…on defense, compiled 31 tackles, 12 PBUs, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal…averaged 15 yards per punt return (14 returns for 210 yards)…totaled 76 points (12 TDs and two 2-point conversions)…in three seasons as a varsity starter, led team to a 33-3 record (.917), three sectional titles and three state Class A playoff berths…his junior year, Aquinas went 13-0 and won the state title…rated New York’s No. 6 prospect by Scout and No. 9 by Rivals…played under Coach Chris Battaglia.

Devon Porchia, LB, 6-2, 200, Parkville, Md., Gilman School
Three-year starter at linebacker at Gilman School who collected 71 tackles and five sacks as a senior…Maryland Big School All-State Team (second team)…MdHigh.com Private School All-State (second team)…Baltimore Sun All-Metro…All-Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)…Baltimore Touchdown Club “Super 22”…led team to a 10-1 record and the A-Conference championship as a senior…selected to play in the Chesapeake Bowl, a senior all-star game that pits players from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia against players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware…also was picked to play in the Maryland Crab Bowl (Baltimore and Washington D.C.) all-star game…rated the No. 20 prospect in Maryland by Rivals and No. 30 by Scout…played under Coach Biff Poggi, a 1979 Pitt football letterman.

Darryl Render, DL, 6-2, 255, Brook Park, Ohio, St. Edward
One of the top defensive end prospects in the Midwest…starred for St. Edward, which annually ranks among Ohio’s top programs on the Division I level (largest classification)…rated the No. 27 prospect in Ohio by Rivals and No. 36 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 31 strongside defensive end by Rivals…Northeast Lakes All-District honoree…helped team to an 8-4 record and the state playoffs…Render’s junior year St. Edward won the state championship with a 15-0 record and finished No. 3 in the Rivals national high school team rankings…played under Coach Rick Finotti.

Deaysean Rippy, S, 6-2, 200, McKees Rocks, Pa., Sto-Rox
Considered one of Pennsylvania’s top prospects following an accomplished career at Sto-Rox…selected first team All-State Class A by the Pennsylvania Sports Writers…Pennsylvania Football News first team All-Class A…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…All-Big Seven…Big Seven Defensive Player of the Year…in addition to being a defensive standout, also was a big-play wide receiver for Sto-Rox and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch over his junior and senior seasons…had 46 receptions for 906 yards (19.7 avg.) with 12 touchdowns his final two years…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…rated the No. 8 prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout and No. 9 by Rivals…rated the nation’s No. 18 outside linebacker prospect by Scout and No. 21 by Rivals…played under Coach Ron Butschle. 

Gabe Roberts, OL, 6-5, 295, New London, Wisc., New London
Rated one of the top five overall prospects in Wisconsin by Scout…two-year, two-way starter for New London at offensive guard and defensive end…named All-Bay Conference on both sides of the ball as a senior…Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-Region selection on defense…was named New London’s Most Valuable Player on offense…played under Coach Pete Mroczynski.

Rushel Shell, RB, 6-0, 210, Aliquippa, Pa., Hopewell
One of the country’s most sought-after running backs…rated the nation’s No. 3 running back and No. 26 overall prospect on the ESPNU 150 list…rated the country’s No. 4 running back by Scout and No. 6 by Rivals…rated the nation’s No. 10 overall prospect by Tom Lemming…USA TODAY first team All-USA…Sports Illustrated and ESPNHS All-American…finished his career as the most prolific rusher in Pennsylvania history…in four seasons at Hopewell, Shell rushed for a state-record 9,078 yards on 1,107 carries (8.2 avg.)…scored 110 career touchdowns, the most in WPIAL history…set a national record with 39 consecutive 100-yard games, eclipsing former Oklahoma Sooners great Billy Sims’ mark of 38 set in 1975…Shell rushed for 200 yards or more in 25 games…in 44 career contests, he averaged 206 yards per game…rushed for more than 2,000 yards in each of his final three seasons…as a senior, rushed for 2,312 yards on 311 attempts (7.4 avg.) and scored 28 touchdowns…his junior year he totaled 2,510 yards and 32 TDs…rushed for 2,740 yards as a sophomore and 1,516 as a freshman…the very first time he touched the ball as a high school freshman, Shell ran 55 yards for a touchdown…four-time Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Class AAA selection, including first-team honors his final three years…Pennsylvania Sports Writers andPennsylvania Football News Class AAA Player of the Year…two-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Player of the Year…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Player of the Year…two-time winner of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association’s “Mercury Award,” annually presented to the High School Player of the Year…Shell was presented the Mercury Award by legendary Pitt coach John Majors…led Hopewell to four WPIAL Class AAA playoff berths, including a title game appearance his sophomore year…the Vikings went a combined 33-13 (.717) during his career…selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which showcased 100 of the country’s premier senior players at Chase Field in Phoenix…also chosen to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…went to the same high school that produced famed Pitt running back Tony Dorsett…Hopewell’s home field is named “Tony Dorsett Stadium”…played under Coach Dave Vestal. 

Chad Voytik, QB, 6-1, 185, Cleveland, Tenn., Cleveland
Threw for more than 5,000 yards during a heralded career at Tennessee’s Cleveland High…named to the “Elite 11,” which honors the nation’s top high school quarterbacks…U.S. Army All-American…rated the nation’s No. 4 “pro-style” quarterback by Rivals…rated the No. 1 overall prospect in Tennessee by Rivals and No. 3 by Scout…rated the nation’s No. 12 quarterback by Scout…Cleveland’s all-time leading passer with 5,005 career yards…also compiled 6,098 yards in career total offense…threw for 1,430 yards and rushed for 438 as a senior while accounting for 17 touchdowns (10 passing and seven rushing)…led Cleveland to the District 5-AAA championship as a junior after compiling 2,125 yards in total offense (1,768 passing and 357 rushing) and a combined 22 touchdowns (16 passing and six rushing)…starting quarterback for the East in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl and finished 7-of-13 passing for 60 yards while also rushing for a nine-yard TD…was one of two featured players in the television documentary series “The Ride: The Road to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl,” which chronicled Voytik’s senior season up to the all-star game…selected to play for the 2012 U.S. Under-19 National Team that competes in the “International Bowl” against a World Team of top players from outside the United States…three-year starter under Cleveland coach E.K. Slaughter.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.

UConn hiring of Randy Edsall’s son questioned for ethics

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Football coaches having their sons on a football staff is nothing new. It’s been done for decades, and is still done to this day. That is not stopping the Office of State Ethics in Connecticut from digging into a recent hire at UConn, where the hiring of Corey Edsall has come under investigation. Edsall is the son of UConn head coach Randy Edsall. Apparently, this line of questioning has been going on for months, according to The Courant.

The Office of State Ethics is concerned whether or not the hiring of a head coach’s son as an assistant coach is in violation of the university’s Code of Ethics. According to the code, state employees are banned from using their position to benefit family members. The board has asked for an advisory opinion to address this concern and a request from the UConn associate general counsel to deny was voted down unanimously by the board. The advisory opinion is scheduled to be shared at the next board meeting on April 20.

UConn has stood by the hiring process and feels there is no violation of ethics. A statement from the university reads;

“When UConn was negotiating [Randy Edsall’s] contract, university ethics staff consulted with the Office of State Ethics on Coach Edsall’s behalf and sough an informal opinion regarding the potential hiring of the coach’s son. … In keeping with standard practice, the university presented this as a hypothetical scenario that mirrored the facts: specifically, that the university was negotiating with a candidate as that part of the negotiations included a contractual provision regarding the potential future employment at UConn of a member of the candidate’s family, who would work in the same department as the candidate.”

In the end, the hiring of Corey Edsall is unlikely to be overturned. The biggest impact this process seems to have is finalizing contracts. Randy Edsall’s contract still has yet to be officially finalized, but that appears to be a mere formality before being approved by the board. Corey Edsall’s contract is also being hung up as a result of this, but this also should be cleaned up once this ethics concern is sorted.

Corey Edsall is UConn’s tight ends coach. He spent the previous two seasons working as a staff member at Colorado as a graduate assistant working with the defense. The 24-year old has also spent two summers working as a scouting intern with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Florida State planning new facility to catch up with Clemson

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Florida State completed a major facility overhaul not even three years ago. But the thing about arms races is that when someone pulls ahead of you it means you are behind.

And Clemson officially pulled ahead earlier this year with the opening of its glistening, slide-equipped new home.

As such, Jimbo Fisher told reporters Friday that Florida State now has plans to construct its own standalone facility, going as far as meeting with an architect.

“We need room. We need meeting space, player development areas. You’ve got to have those areas and also to show off your history. That’s what Florida State is known for, being a great football program,” Fisher told ESPN. “You can never stand still. If you’re not evolving and moving, people are going to bypass you. You’ve got to keep going. The great programs never settle. We’re always looking for that edge. It’s going to help recruiting. It’s going to help player development. We get a lot of guys that are three-and-out, so we’ve got to have space for them to get them developed as quickly as we can so we can get production out of them.”

While saying that it’s a “competitive” race and not an arms race, Fisher also tried to sell that the plans for the ‘Noles’ new home were unrelated to Clemson’s new facility.

“I don’t care what they’ve got,” Fisher said. “I’m worried about what we’ve got. If I don’t think it’s going to make a difference in our program for these kids to develop as people, students and players, I won’t ask. I didn’t grow up with a lot. I was taught if you need it, do what you’ve got to do to be successful but don’t waste. I’m not going to do that. But there’s things you’ve got to have to be successful and that’s the next step, in my opinion.”

Former Michigan TE Jake Butt says college players should be able to cash in on likenesses

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For the record, Jake Butt shouldn’t “be paid” in the strictest sense of the term — to receive a paycheck for services rendered. Rather, the former Michigan tight end believes players should be able to profit from their statuses as college athletes when the NCAA, its conferences and member schools are already doing the same.

(Having an extremely marketable last name probably contributed to the forming of this opinion.)

“Something needs to change,” Butt told ESPN.com at Michigan’s pro day. “I don’t want a check from the NCAA. I don’t know if that’s something that’s likely. But the big thing is they say you can’t use your name to benefit. I can’t go into my favorite breakfast spot, Benny’s, I can’t go in there and get a free breakfast because I’m only getting that because of my name.

“That’s not to say I can’t make friends with the owner because of the person I am. I’m a good guy, a really good guy — sociable guy, made a lot of friends. I can’t accept anything free for that. They said I can’t go down the street, the example one of them gave us is you can’t go to [get] tires and negotiate your price from $600 to $500 because that’s only because of your name. But Joe Schmo can go down the street and he can negotiate his price. It’s kind of ridiculous to me.”

Butt was a victim of the cruelest twist in circumstances possible for a college athlete — a season-ending injury at the end of his final season. A senior, Butt was one of the top tight ends on the draft board before suffering a torn ACL in the Wolverines’ Orange Bowl loss to Florida State. The Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end will be drafted next month, but the damage to his bank account resulting from the injuries is significant. Being able to profit from his own name and image would have served as insurance against the loss of value he suffered due to the injury.

“I should be the example of why college athletes should be getting paid in college or why I can’t use my name to benefit off my likeness in college,” Butt said.

“Why can I see ‘I Like Jake Butt and I Cannot Lie,’ I see those shirts and I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck in college. Who knows? Heaven forbid something happens in the NFL, can I really benefit off of it when it was at the most? No, I can’t.”