Share This Page

Gorman: Florida State game golden opportunity for Pitt

| Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Ever since its inaugural ACC schedule was announced, Pitt has been hyping its Labor Day opener against Florida State on Monday night at Heinz Field.

The Panthers haven't been shy about boasting on radio and TV ads that they have the hottest home schedule in the country.

Now, it's time for Pitt to take advantage of the national spotlight by turning it into a showcase for prospective recruits.

The Panthers are heavy underdogs, but ESPN recruiting analyst Jared Shanker believes it's a golden opportunity for Pitt.

“It's more important to make a good impression,” Shanker said. “Having said that, if they lose, 45-0, it's hard to make a good impression. As long as the experience is good, a loss doesn't matter — as long as you don't lose in horrible fashion.”

Having Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whose No. 1 jersey will be retired, among the Pitt greats in attendance should only help the Panthers with prospects.

“They might say that it's cool that Larry Fitzgerald is there and getting his number retired,” Shanker said, “but that will go away quick if they lose. It becomes tougher to recruit after a loss because the locker room is dead. They've got Notre Dame and Miami at home, so there will be other opportunities.”

The Panthers have invited dozens of recruits from the Class of 2014 to the game. That includes WPIAL stars in Mt. Lebanon left tackle Alex Bookser, Aliquippa defensive back Dravon Henry, Washington tailback Shai McKenzie and Gateway receiver-safety Montae Nicholson, as well as Buffalo Canisius tailback Qadree Ollison.

“They've got their five biggest targets going to the game,” Shanker said. “They need to get at least two of them.”

Shanker called Bookser and Henry the two most important recruits for the Panthers to get.

“You've got to build from the inside out, and Bookser is one of the best tackles in the region,” Shanker said. “And Dravon's a dynamic athlete who has so many connections.”

Pitt has a long history of an Aliquippa pipeline, from NFL first-round picks Mike Ditka and Sean Gilbert to Darrelle Revis and Jonathan Baldwin, and Henry is the latest Quips star.

And he hopes the Panthers make it a memorable moment.

“A lot of people doubt Pitt right now. I hope they prove people otherwise,” said Henry, who also is being recruited by the Seminoles. “This is my first time seeing Florida State, so I'm excited to see that, too. I don't really care if they win or lose. Just make it a good game.

“It should be a great time.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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.