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.

Jim McElwain hints at playing three quarterbacks vs. Michigan

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Considering his opponent won’t so much as release a simple roster, there’s no reason whatsoever for Florida head coach Jim McElwain to say anything of consequence.

Still, it sounds as if No. 17 Florida may play all three of its quarterbacks next Saturday against No. 11 Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

“You’re going to see a bunch of them in there playing. The three guys have done a really good job. Not naming a starter right now,” McElwain said. “I think that there’s some things that they all bring to the table that are really good. Now the key to us is putting them in those positions that play to their strengths.

“Will all of them play? I don’t know yet. Will a couple of them play? I don’t know yet. I know we will have somebody at the position. This is not — don’t read into this that we’re not happy where they’re at. It’s really more so the competition has really brought out some good things. It’s going to be … ultimately the guy the team moves with the best, the guys that create positive plays on third down and get the ball in the end zone [that we go with].”

The three of them, by the way, are graduate transfer Malik Zaire, junior Luke Del Rio and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. In a world governed by the truism of “If you have two quarterbacks you don’t have any,” it’s not exactly a good sign that none of Zaire, Del Rio or Franks have separated themselves from the others.

Zaire showed flashes but was eventually benched at Notre Dame and just arrived on campus this summer. Del Rio, a 2-time transfer before arriving at Florida, was the Gators’ starter coming out of training camp last season but fought through injuries throughout the season. And Franks is a 6-foot-5 former 5-star recruit that many thought would have grabbed the job by the horns by now.

While every team turns over from one season to the next, Florida finished 105th nationally in yards per play last season while Michigan’s defense placed second. With top playmaker Antonio Callaway serving a suspension, Florida will look to put the ball in the hands of whomever can move it, even if three of them happen to play quarterback.

Tracy Claeys discusses protests that led to his firing from Minnesota

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Chances are you haven’t heard Tracy Claeys‘s name mentioned in a while. The former Minnesota interim-turned-full time head coach was let go in January and has not been picked up by a new staff in the months since.

But Minnesota released an outside report last week that defended the school’s decision to suspend 10 players amid a sexual assault investigation and pinned the subsequent team-wide threatened boycott of the Holiday Bowl on “weak leadership” of the coaching staff. The Gophers played and won that Holiday Bowl, but it wasn’t enough to save Claeys’s job.

On Wednesday, Claeys penned an essay in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that both defended his tenure as the Golden Gophers’ head coach and admitted mistakes in a saga that would have swallowed many a head coach’s career.

Last September, I suspended five players for a reported sexual assault. When law enforcement authorities the following month declined to file any charges, the university reinstated those players. At the time, I was congratulated by our athletic director for my handling of this issue and promised that I would remain the head football coach in 2017.

But university officials soon conducted their own inquiry and in December resuspended the five players and suspended five more — again, even though prosecutors had determined there was no basis for formal charges.

Members of our Football Leadership Group and others on the team felt strongly that administration officials had overstepped their authority and that the accused players were treated unfairly and denied protection under due process. To amplify their argument and shine light on what players felt was a flawed and unjust process by the university, the team voted to boycott the Holiday Bowl.

It was a decision that moved us directly into the national spotlight. Unfortunately, some misunderstood or misinterpreted the players’ decision to boycott the Holiday Bowl. They felt that our team and coaches were condoning or downplaying sexual misconduct or assault. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

In light of this new report, are there things I would have done differently? Certainly. First and foremost, I would have remained on campus with my team and coaches rather than attend a Holiday Bowl news conference in San Diego. I’m confident that my presence would have better directed the conversation with our players and that I could have steered them toward something other than a decision to boycott the game.

 I also would have refrained from using social media to state my support of the team’s decision. This was too complex and important an issue to address in a 140-character message. It generated more questions than it answered and likely created more problems than it solved.
Claeys was 11-8 in his one and a half seasons as Minnesota’s head coach, his first head coaching job. Assuming he does not get hired in the next week and a half, the 2017 season will be Claeys’s first out of the game since launching his career as a student trainer at Kansas in the early ’90’s.

Kirk Ferentz and wife donate $1 million to Iowa children’s hospital

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Kirk Ferentz may be the but of a bunch of contract-related jokes, but no one jokes about the man’s character.

And for good reason.

The University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital announced Wednesday that Kirk and his wife Mary have donated $1 million to create the Savvy Ferentz Program in Neonatal Research, which will aim to improve the survival rate for premature babies. The Ferentzes made the donation in honor of their granddaughter Savvy, who was born in 2014 at 22 weeks gestation.

“We knew Savvy was born too early,” Mary said in a statement. “We also knew they do extraordinary things at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital that would give her a fighting chance. We were thankful we had that.”

The Stead Family Children’s Hospital claims higher survival rates for infants born at 24- and 25-weeks than the average U.S. hospital, and the Ferentzes hope their donation will further increase those rates.

“The University of Iowa has long been a leader in neonatal research and in providing high-level patient care, particularly to this most vulnerable population,” Iowa pediatrics professor Dr. Jeffrey L. Segar said. “This gift from the Ferentzes will help us capitalize on our strengths, advance our research, and, most important, make an impact on the lives of many Iowa children and their families, now and far into the future. We are deeply grateful for their support.”

Kirk Ferentz will begin his 19th season as Iowa’s head coach next Saturday against Wyoming (noon ET, BTN).

Texas TE Andrew Beck now out for entire 2017 season

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As it turns out, it’s much worse than originally thought for one playing member of the Texas football program.

Nearly a week ago, Andrew Beck went down during practice with what was later diagnosed to be a broken foot.  At the time, it was thought that the tight end would miss anywhere from 6-8 weeks, which would’ve put him back, at the latest, early October.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, however, and the Longhorns announced that Beck will be sidelined for the entire 2017 season because of the injury.  The senior will undergo surgery at some point this week to repair the damage.  He’s already undergone two previous foot surgeries and sat out the spring because of issues in that area.

The good news is that Beck has yet to use his redshirt season, which means he could return in 2018 as a fifth-year senior.

Beck started 13 games the past two seasons, including three in 2016.  Last season, he caught four passes for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Entering summer camp, he had been expected to be the Longhorns’ starter.

With Beck out, that onus will likely fall on Kendall Moore, a graduate transfer from Syracuse.