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Wednesday October 22 2014
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Chryst welcomes first recruiting class to Pitt

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Coaching changes affect every aspect of college football. So when Todd Graham bolted on Pitt after just one season to take the head coaching vacancy at Arizona State, the impact on the upcoming recruiting class could have been disastrous.

When a coaching staff leaves and the players are comfortable with that staff, it can definitely have an impact,” said Joe Butler of Metro Index Recruiting. “The new staff comes in and basically has to re-recruit the players, so it can affect a class.”

With no leadership in place, the commits took it upon themselves to keep the class together. Highly-touted recruits RB Rushel Shell of Hopewell and Tennessee QB Chad Voytik used Twitter to reaffirm their commitments, and used the social media platform to lobby other recruits to do the same.

While Pitt did part ways with a number players, most notably linebacker Dakota Conwell of Upper Saint Clair, the strategy did prove effective. New coach Paul Chryst was able to secure 17 commitments, including key players from the previous coaching regime in Shell, Voytik, Fox Chapel OL Adam Bisnowaty and twins Demetrious and Chris Davis of Youngstown. In addition, he landed two potential stars late in the process in Shaler tight end JP Holtz and Sto-Rox linebacker Deaysean Rippy.

And according to Butler, the strength of this class is in its star potential.

“Shell has the potential to be a dynamic player, and develop into a big-time back in the near future,” he said. Voytik has the potential to be an outstanding quarterback, but that is one of the toughest positions for a high school kid to come in and be effective immediately.”

Chryst was able to address the secondary and front seven, where the Panthers will lose several key contributors. However, the offensive line remains an issue, and the Panthers will hope the signing of Bisnowaty can help fix that.

“Adam (Bisnowaty) is a great looking kid and physically has the potential to be a left tackle,” Butler said. “But it’s a big transition to come in right away with the pass rushers in the Big East.”

And while Butler believes the class is strong, he doesn’t think many of them will make much of an impact in their true freshman season.

“I don’t really look for these freshman to play much, and obviously if you don’t need them to play it’s good to redshirt them,” he said. “I think 75 percent of them will end up redshirting their freshman year.”

Pitt's 2012 Recruiting Class
Adam Bisnowaty, OL, 6-6, 275, Cheswick, Pa., Fox Chapelphoto courtesy of Fox Chapel Football HS
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 HS
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 HS
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 HS
A standout on both sides of the ball for perennial Class A power photo by Bill McBridechampionships 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 HS
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 HS
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 HSphoto by Bill McBride
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 AAAA…Pittsburgh 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 HS
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 HS
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 HS
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 HS
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 HS
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 HS
Considered onephoto by 247Sports 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 HS
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 HS
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 and Pennsylvania 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 HS
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 photo by US Armychampionship 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.

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