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Gorman: Scholarship counts a complicated game

| Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Recruiting is a numbers game, one that can be manipulated easily.

It requires being able to count forward and backward, to add and subtract, all while trying to get to the magic number of 85.

That's the scholarship limit for Division I football programs (except schools like Penn State, whose number was reduced by NCAA sanctions).

It will be interesting to watch how Pitt attempts to add as many recruits as possible to its Class of 2013.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst is believed to want to sign as many as 29 players in February, which, on the surface, would be four over the NCAA limit of 25 per class.

“The 85 is the number you have to look at,” said Bob Lichtenfels, recruiting analyst for 247 Sports and Panthers 247. “Everybody says you can bring in 25 guys. They're not going to take guys just to take guys. There's so many areas of major need that oversigning is a necessity.”

To count forward, start by counting backward.

Four freshmen are expected to enroll early: Kent (Ohio) quarterback Tra'von Chapman, Seton-La Salle tight end Scott Orndoff and Wilkes-Barre defensive end Shakir Soto, along with former Allderdice defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett, who spent a semester at Milford Academy. Because they are to start classes this week, the four will count against Pitt's 2012 recruiting class.

That means the Panthers reduced their Class of '13 commitments from 21 to 17, which would allow them to sign as many as eight more.

“Pitt hasn't done it as much as other schools,” Lichtenfels said of the early enrollees. “There's schools that have three to five every year. For Chryst to fill more holes, the more guys you bring in, the better.”

But Pitt has 63 underclassmen on scholarship, so before the Panthers can add that many, there's the matter of having to subtract. Don't be surprised to see a post-Compass Bowl exodus.

Pitt is a perfect example of the numbers crunch that comes with coaching changes, especially after going from Dave Wannstedt's pro-style offense to Todd Graham's spread system back to Chryst's pro-style scheme.

“Anytime you go from different systems, you're going to have odd fits,” Lichtenfels said. “Instead of trying to Band-Aid issues, they're able to go out and get guys who can help immediately.”

So long as those who aren't helping decide to leave immediately. When it comes to scholarships, this math is true: Every one counts.

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