Gorman: Before signing day, focus shifts to juniors
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Thirty minutes before tipoff of the Pitt-Syracuse basketball game, the Panthers' football program had a major moment.
The Oakland Zoo gave a standing ovation to 35 football prospects as they walked into Petersen Events Center.
What made it major?
They were there for Pitt's junior day, as the Panthers played host to the top prospects in the Class of 2014.
“That was a good first impression,” said Washington tailback Shai McKenzie, who was attending his first college basketball game. “We didn't think they kept up with high schoolers, but they were calling out our names, saying, ‘Come to Pitt!' ”
Mind you, this was five days before signing day for the Class of 2013.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst was aware that there could be concerns the Panthers had turned their attention toward the juniors before signing senior recruits.
McKenzie said Chryst addressed the players and their families in a meeting, telling them that their visit was important because the underclassmen represent the future of college football.
“It is rare. There's a couple schools that have them, but the quickest you hear is the first Saturday after signing day,” said 247 Sports analyst Bob Lichtenfels.
“The recruiting process has become so accelerated that the seniors are almost an afterthought. The majority have already chosen their college, so coaches are turning their attention to underclassmen.”
And not just the juniors.
McKenzie, who has 15 scholarship offers, watched Pitt's 65-55 victory over No. 6 Syracuse while sitting with Aliquippa juniors Dravon Henry, Jaleel Fields and Terry Swanson and Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead, who's only a sophomore.
“You could technically still be having kids in for visits this weekend, while having juniors in,” Lichtenfels said. ‘There's really not much you can do after this weekend because of the quiet period, so it's really smart. It gives you a jump start on the next class.”
Schools have little choice but to stay in step or lose out on the top prospects. Elite WPIAL juniors already have double-digit offer counts.
“The way it used to be, signing day was like Christmas morning,” Lichtenfels said. “You'd wake up and see who Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia signed. It was like a holiday. Now, it's done before anyone signs. It's not meaningful anymore.
“People don't even care about these seniors. It's like, ‘Who's the best in 2014?' ”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Coach Johnston trying to figure out why Penguins ‘fell off a cliff’
- Injured Penguins optimistic about returning next season
- Protest planned Monday at Plum Borough High School
- Crosby, Malkin want to remain in Pittsburgh
- Behind starter Liriano, Pirates complete sweep of Diamondbacks
- Pirates notebook: Wainwright injury doesn’t sway Hurdle on DH
- Counselors available at Hempfield after crash kills student
- Washington’s Shelton grows into big role, looks forward to draft
- Hempfield teen hurt in single-vehicle crash
- Oak Ridge couple transforms 1820 house into quaint bed and breakfast
- Forbes Avenue jeweler’s embedded sidewalk sign safely slides out to make way for Pittsburgh Playhouse project