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UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 19, 2018
PAT NARDUZZI: All right. Well, you guys all ready to go? It's a great day for Pitt football, I can tell you that. Just to add really the fifth class for me, and another, just, I think, a superior 2019 class to this football program. I think every year you kind of just keep taking steps towards making yourself a better football program.
I look, overall -- when you look at recruiting, I think you look at overall improving your roster. It's all about roster management and getting the best players you can. You could go back through who we traveled on the road with week one, or the first road trip, and back in 2016 and look at '17, '18, and '19.
The one thing I noticed as a head football coach, and you try to narrow your 72 roster, we're allowed to bring 72 on the road for an away game. We're allowed to bring 85 to the ACC Championship game, but what you've noticed through the years is that it's harder and harder to pick that 72, because you've got a roster of players, and the management of that roster has been, I think, just really, you know, we've done a great job with the recruiting office, and just getting a better quality athlete here at the University of Pittsburgh.
I wouldn't go through names or anything else like that, you just notice it as you're going through it.
So I think each year we've kind of improved our depth, and I think that's the reason why we're in a championship game. It's not about having the best players, and maybe some guys down here. It's about having just quality from top to bottom on your depth chart, and that's what we're trying to do. Sometimes those average players turn into great players. A five-star may turn into a bad player. You see more and more of those guys transferring throughout the country as you look at things.
We're just I am impressed with the group of student-athletes we have in. We've got 18 of them we signed today. There will be a few more here probably in February. You know, it was drama-free, the 18 that we thought for the last two weeks that would sign, signed. I shouldn't say -- 17 of the 18 we knew would sign: Liam Dick, we kind of knew about, I guess, Saturday we knew he wanted to keep it quiet and make his announcement down in Mexico City. But we've known that one and trusted his commitment to us a few days ago. So, just impressed with those guys.
When you look at the class overall, a very versatile group. We've got eight guys on offense, ten on defense, and those things could go either way.
I think the important thing is, when you look at it, and I think I tell you guys this every year, we've got three different groups that we kind of work with. We have run groups like this. At times we lift in these different groups and train with Coach Andrews and different groups. But we have a power group, our big guys. Our O-linemen, and our D-linemen, we signed a total of seven of those. Seven big guys we think are going to develop into being linemen for us, okay.
But eight on offense, ten on defense. We signed big skill, five of them, and I put the quarterback in big skill. If he was a zone read, dual-threat quarterback, I'd put him in the skill category. But because he's a pro-style quarterback, I put him into big skill. But five of those.
When you talk tight ends and linebackers, and then we signed six skilled. So a great variety. We're not overloaded in one or the other. I think anytime you have big athletes that can run, and you've got power that can run and are going to develop in our weight room, I think you've got a great class.
16 of the signees came from six different states, mentioned those. We've got four from PA. We've got five from Florida, two from New Jersey, two from Maryland, two from South Carolina, got some traction down there. Got one from Long Island, New York, and two from out of the country in Canada. Two individuals that came to camp, and I'll talk about those guys a little bit later. But two guys that came into camp and really have played a lot of football in America, okay. It's not like they were going to be foreign.
I've recruited and coaches players that came straight out of Canada, and you feel even better with these guys because they played in Canada and developed in Canada, but then played a ton of games in the United States whether it be in Florida or really in the midwest.
So I think we're happy that when you look at those 18 guys, 17 of them were captains, okay? 17 out of the 18 were captains. So I think anytime you think about the character, and, again, I sure hope in high school your best players aren't always captains, because it takes more than just a good player that can run and catch and lay a block on somebody. But we've got a bunch of captains. You know, we've got six state champions, one (Indiscernible) champion. But when you look at that, Vince Davis was a champion, Bill Gibson, a (Indiscernible) champion, Calijah Kancey, a champion, with his teammate Leslie Smith, and Nate Temple in Carolina, and Kyi Wright as well. So we've got some champions and guys that know how to win football games and excited about that.
As I say every year, there are just so many people to thank, because this is not an easy process. When you think about the recruiting process overall, the media, Twitter, social media, all that stuff has made the game of recruiting a lot harder.
I can't tell you how impressed I am with our staff and how we do our business, okay. Because, like I said, we've talked about this in the past, we don't recruit stars. We recruit football players and character, and I think character always wins.
But it starts with our recruiting staff. I know Graham is up there, and Graham will be available afterwards to speak with the media. Yes, sir, Graham. Yes, you are. We'll put Graham, the former quarterback on the spot up there.
The rest of our staff won't be available today because they're busy watching today's practice, and I thought that was probably more important than bringing them in here at this time. But we'll be able to get them in February, when we regather together like we always do.
But our recruiting staff, and everybody in that office does an incredible job. I think it's those hours they spend in there watching tape, evaluating tape, watching every senior game of these kids. They're watching the entire game.
Sometimes as coaches, time-wise, we're watching a 50-, 60-play highlight tape. But they're going through, verifying everything that we saw during the season or during camp or whatever it may be, and they're evaluating them every day. Really talking to the guidance counselor, there is a lot of that stuff that goes on in that office.
Back in the old days, shoot, most of my years at Michigan State, it was me doing most of that. We didn't have a recruiting office built like this. We did it ourselves. I had to be in touch with the guidance counselor, so I have to thank Reed Case for what they do up there. And I want to thank Heather Lyke. And, again, I've been a lot of places, never have I had an AD so determined to come speak to our student-athletes every Friday night. Okay. She's unbelievable. She speaks from the heart. She does an incredible job, so we thank her.
Mark Harding and the entire faculty. Mark does a great job, has a presentation every Saturday, and through my years here, guys, we could say we're probably 75% ahead, if we get a guy on campus, we're a 75% win, and that's a pretty good number as far as getting three out of four when they get on this campus.
Obviously, sometimes there's guys that we can't take that add into that where you have to say sorry, we filled up, which we know that happens at positions.
But they do a great job. Our faculty comes to breakfast with us on Saturday mornings and sits down. I can't tell you how many kids after the visit say, Coach, my meeting on Saturday morning with you know, Bill Valenta was incredible. That's how impressive the academics are here. So I thank all our faculty there.
I thank our football team. They take nights, Friday and Saturday night out, of their lives to spend it with their future teammates and getting to know those kids and who they are. We're always asking our kids, hey, what do you think? Do you like him? Does he fit in with us? Those are all things that go into our decision-making.
Thank Mike Farabaugh, our academic staff for what they do. Penny Semaia, and our life skills, two major things that we sell here at Pitt. I mean, some people are going to sell Heinz Field or sell this or that; we're going to sell our academics, because in the end that's what they've got to do is come here to get a degree. That's something they're going to take with them for the rest of their lives. So that's been unbelievable.
Our coaching staff, for hitting the road, spending the time away from their families, you know, it's a rough, you know -- it's a rough two weeks this year. Last year it was three weeks.
I'll just speak briefly on just what our coaches have done on the road in a short time. You know, last summer was the first opportunity to have a summer visit. We had one major weekend in June, which, you know, at times we thought maybe should we have this? Should we not? Sometimes when you bring guys in June, come December they forget who you are. They forget they even had a visit to Pitt. So you kind of debated whether you'd want to bring anybody in in June.
But I can guarantee you this, we'll be bringing people to the city of Pittsburgh in June from now on.
We had an incredible weekend, for whatever reason, getting our staff and coaches in the city of Pittsburgh is a showcase, I think.
But it was incredible. Had you known, I guess I knew because I made that statement we were going to the championship game in Charlotte, I guess. But had I really known that, you know, that we were going to be in that game, it would have been imperative to for sure have a June visit, because we had two weeks on the road recruiting.
I got into 14 homes of guys that are on our list. So I didn't get into everybody's home yet. You kind of picked and choose who you needed to get into right away.
So I have not been to everybody's home. We actually have some kids that still haven't officially visited here. They've been on campus, they've seen Pitt. They know -- our unofficial visits are darn near like an official visit except we can't pay for their food or put them up overnight. So with some of these kids that will continue happen as we go.
Lastly, I want to thank our class that they had trust in who we were. I know early in the year from my recruiting office, I know we were struggling at one point and not winning a lot of games. You know, social media kicks in, and like, are you sticking? Who is staying? All that baloney, which I really appreciate you guys taking polls on who is staying and who is not.
But I thank those guys for sticking with us through the hard times. That's what you want guys who are going to fight and they're loyal to who you are. They've committed to the University of Pittsburgh. For the most part we held on to everybody in a volatile, you know, recruiting atmosphere out there. I'll just leave it at that.
So we had two weeks on the road. 12 teams had two weeks on the road. Everybody else in the country had three weeks on the road. So we went out and took care of business. Again, worked from, I don't know, 6:30 a.m., to -- I don't think probably in the nine evenings I was out on the road, I don't think I got back to my hotel room until after midnight seven of the nine, okay. And I'm just being generous here. Maybe it was eight of the nine.
I think Graham did -- I ripped Graham. I'm sorry for ripping you sometimes like, dude, are you trying to kill me, right, Graham?
So I think he was trying to run me into the ground, but we've got a great class. I'm going to go through our offensive guys here. We'll start off with our quarterback, Davis Beville from Greenville High School in South Carolina. First thing I'll say when I talk about Davis is the first thing that comes to my mind is loyalty. This guy's a big-time quarterback that we're excited to have in here.
I know Coach Watson is excited about having him in. Andre Powell and Shawn Watson, because Andre's from South Carolina, it had something to do with recruiting that area and having a little bit of in in the South Carolina area. And his dad lives down there. And Shawn Watson was a primary recruiter for Davis as we go into that.
Obviously, I get involved with everybody, but Davis is a tremendous student-athlete. He's a big-time quarterback, gunslinger, can sling it. Really smart kid that we went down and watched him practice in the spring. He did not come to camp.
But, you know, again, a guy that we had targeted. Had up in the rain. We always joke on the phone about every time he came to a game, he was at the ACC Championship game, but every game he came to it rained. I promised him it will never rain in Pittsburgh again. But we had a rainy season, and we laughed about that.
But Davis is a great quarterback, and we think he's going to play a lot of football here at Pitt.
We've got two running backs, Daniel Carter. We went in -- we went in saying we wanted two tailbacks. We wanted a big back and a smaller back. We just wanted that one-two punch. The big, physical guy that we've had. You kind of have an Ollison, and a Darrin Hall, and we wanted to get another one of those, and Daniel Carter is one of those big backs. He's explosive from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But comes from a great school that competes for championships every year.
I think they've played in a championship this year and didn't get the win there. I think they played a great Lakeland football team and got beat, which is a great lake land football team. But Daniel Carter, we're excited to have him. I told him on the phone today I wish you were here for spring ball.
The next guy, Vince Davis from Cardinal Gibbons High School. Really led their football team to the first state championship. Again, another guy that's got a lot of wiggle. He's the leader of his class. They have all these little group chats, I guess, I don't have a group chat.
I know, Jerry, you have your group chat with your boys. But I don't have a group chat.
But these guys have their group chat. And Vince is kind of the leader of that, I believe, at least he was in the beginning. But, again, a guy that rushed for a thousand yards, and, again, led his football team.
Got two receivers. Both of them camped here at Pitt. First one, Will Gipson from Aliquippa High School. Again, we're fired up to have him. He came to camp, we weren't sure. We loved what he did in camp, we just, you know, we just kept looking and looking and looking, and the one thing really in the Western Pennsylvania, and I consider the whole state of Pennsylvania is my message out there is we go slow. I am not going to offer guys early in this area and try to pull out on them. I just don't want to do it.
So we're always going to take our time in this area because too often people offer kids and then they back up and you never hear from them again. That's not going to happen here. At least we sure hope it's not going to happen. Sometimes things happen, but we want to offer those guys and we want them.
Will is a guy that we continue to study. I took a Friday night and watched them at home in the Pitt, right? What's it called out there? The Pitt? And went to the Pitt and watched the game there. I tell you what, you know, I was there watching a couple players, and that guy caught my eye.
It was like that guy right there is one of the best players on this field, period. That was what sold Will. He's a football player, he runs, he tracks down the football. He'll go get it. I think he's a big-time wideout for us.
The next guy, Jared Wayne might be a mid-year guy. Might find out tonight, might find out tomorrow. I'm in no hurry. We don't press guys for mid year. But Davis will be here. You get to watch him at Heinz Field this summer. Again, Jared Wayne from Clearwater Academy International down in Florida. Down in the Tampa area there, the west coast of Florida, was a guy that came to camp and earned a scholarship, okay. Now you'll see will Gipson did as well.
But he came in and blew it away. I won't give you stats what he ran, but he ran fast enough. He's a big, tall, athletic guy. When I look at our class, he's one of the more mature guys in this class. When you talk to this guy, it's like he's 28 years old already, and you're like, really? Did they hold you back? I know you have 13 grades in Canada, but this guy's mature. Just a great, great student-athlete, and we're excited to have Jared.
Again, we may have him -- we may have him down here on campus here this January.
At tight ends, Jason Collier from West Deptford High School. A big joker. I think every time I see him he gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Last count he was 292 pounds, okay. So he's another big old tight end that is athletic. On my phone I got some video. He could long snap as well. He fired. He about took Cory Sanders head off with a long snap in the dark out in the backyard. He can fire the ball. He's a good football player.
He didn't have an opportunity to catch a lot of footballs there at that high school. But he's a big, athletic tight end, and we're excited to have him. I had a player in high school before that had some success with, and it was good to get another guy out of West Deptford High School.
Got two offensive linemen. Matt Goncalves, Eastport South Manor High School. Matt is a guy that's way out on Long Island. Came to camp, earned a scholarship. Loved him. Obviously came on his official visit. Our players fell in love with him as well. His O-line men are kind of jolly, jolly guys as we get around Christmas.
Really, the two linemen, you heard the kids just love being around him. That's something that's important. The cohesion that our players have together.
But Jason, excuse me, Matt is a big offensive tackle, and a guy that Coach is going to get a chance to mold and develop. He plays with an attitude, he's tough. He's on a basketball team up there. And I've yet to be at his high school and we'll get there in January.
The next one is Liam Dick. Liam is a guy we've been on since the summer. This guy, I think we may have been the first Power Five offer he had, and then he continued to explode. We were kind of wondering whether we should have even offered him so early. We should have just let him hide away. But he played at Clarkson Secondary School up there, he played for the north -- what was it? Carson Football North. They really have two football teams.
They have the Carson High School, and then the Football North. It's really a group that they kind of recruit. It's almost like a prep school that they've got kind of a second floor at the High School up there. And they have their own football team that works out of that high school. And I think they played one game in Canada, and the rest of the games they played down in the states.
If you look at your schedule, they played at St. Edwards up in Cleveland, they played Erie Cathedral, they played St. X down in Cincinnati. They played some of the best schools. I think they played St. Francis down in Maryland, they travel all over and played some of the best. So he's got his feet wet against some of the best players.
When you talk about players from all those places from St. Francis to St. Ed's, and St. X, he's played some of the best. So we're excited to have him. So that's our offensive guys.
Defensively, we were able to get five defensive linemen, five, big power guys. First one, Calijah Kancey from Miami Northwest High School. Just a guy that we had to hold on near the end there. People were coming in. Coach Partridge did a great job at holding on to some of those South Florida guys.
He's just, again, just another big athlete that I think is going to be a guy that can come in and help us when he gets here. Had over 200 tackles in his seasons there at northwest, and just getting a big athlete that can run, change direction, get after the quarterback. And one of those guys that has that personality that you want to coach every day.
Deandre Jules at Northwest High School in Maryland, a guy that came to an official visit in June, I guess, June 18th. That was a guy that was highly, highly recruited. After that visit, him and his mom, Sabrina, were kind of locked in and sold on who we were and he committed on the spot that Sunday as did a lot of them.
When Davis Beville, just so we're on the same page, he's the guy that started the deal. I'll never forget him. His dad has a picture of the clock, maybe 8:30 a.m. when that whole thing started that Sunday morning that June weekend, that "Pitt is it" kind of scrolled out a few times that day. But Davis started it. Deandre followed suit and was one of the next guys to commit. So we're excited to have him as one of our defensive linemen.
Bam Brima, from Loyalsock High School in, I guess, Central PA. Went out there and saw Bam at his house last week, and just an incredible, incredible young man. Dad's a reverend at the church there in town. He's a super, super person.
I've never seen a guy bring so many books to a home visit or to a visit. He came in and had a book bag full. He had his iPad ready to go. Just a super kid that's a very athletic defensive end that came to camp and offered at camp. So we're happy to have Bam Brima here.
Bryce Nelms from West Orange High School in northern New Jersey. Another big athletic defensive end. He's got to be 6'6".
These kids keep getting taller. I don't know how tall they really are. He's a big athlete that can do a lot of different things.
Bryce played a lot of his ball down in Atlanta, Georgia. For the first couple years. Then moved up with his dad to take, really, to take care of his mother in New Jersey. You know, his dad, Eric -- mom's only son. So sitting at home and figuring out who he was as a person is just an incredible character guy that we have. Grandma says he's the most polite person. He's just a polite kid that when he gets on the field he'll turn it loose. So we're happy to have him.
Nate Temple from Abbeville High School in South Carolina. Played in the All-Star Game last week. Again, a guy we did not see at our camp. It's one of those road camps that we went to. We saw him down at the Georgia camp when we went down as a staff.
So we got to see him live and fell in love with him down there at that camp. We didn't go down there looking at Nate Temple. We were just down there looking at everybody. And this guy popped off on every drill you saw, with a camp of, you know, a camp of probably 600 to 700 kids, this kid just stuck out to us as a high motor, intense. And he went through three different sessions of camp. Most kids go to camp for two hours and they leave, and a week later they go to another camp. This guy was at three sessions at Georgia camp, and he looked as good in the first session as he looked in the first session. The kid just has a motor. He's athletic. They run a similar defense to what we do.
He's a detail guy. So we're happy to have Nate in this class as well. So just a side note on Nate, Nate was one of those guys that visited unofficially with the mom and dad during the summer. I don't know if anybody knows that. There's Mike Farabaugh. Thanks, Mike. Mike does a heck of a job. Mike is available for any media afterwards if you're talking academics. Good luck to you. See how you like that. You might run if we get done here.
But Nate was a guy that called up after an official visit maybe four days later, and it was after that big weekend we had. We got filled up pretty quick. So Nate was the guy originally we had to say, Nate, we don't have anything for you right now. We had to almost turn him down. And as a football coach, that's the worst thing you have to do to a kid is say we can't take you right now. And that happens more than you probably read about in the newspaper, because everybody, you know, has that pride and doesn't want to say they couldn't go there are for whatever reason, you filled up or whatever. So that happens more than you guys will ever read because nobody tells you the insight on those.
But Nate was a guy that we continued to call. And Charlie Partridge stayed on him all through, and I stayed on him. We like that guy. We know who he is. And timetable he said just taking the best available, and we said we've got to offer this guy. So we jumped on Nate. I told him to take his time. Don't just say yes right now. I want you to think about it. Not three days later, I believe, he called up and said I'm going to be a Panther. So we're fired up to have him.
Kyi Wright, Kyi Wright did not come to camp as, I guess, a senior going into his senior year, but he had been to two previous camps. Kyi is a big guy. He can do a lot of different things. He'll start off as a linebacker.
I think, shoot, if you watch any of his high school games you'll wonder if he can't be that wildcat quarterback that he can be, and he can throw it. He'll be a threat throwing the ball. He can do a lot of different things. But Kyi is a guy that came out really during the passing camp and said, "Coach, I'm in." He wasn't working at camp, but we're happy to have Kyi.
Brandon George, Berks Catholic High School, get another guy like Kyi that came to camp and earned a scholarship. Brandon George is a big, physical guy, played tailback, played middle linebacker, and will strike you. He's physical. Again, another big athlete. Big, skill guy that can do a lot of different things.
Then the last linebacker, Leslie Smith from Miami Northwest High School, came up to camp with a couple of his coaches in the summer. Just had an outstanding camp. You know, when I sit here and thank our players, Oluwaseun Idowu really hung out with this kid most of the camp and coached him up. We'd always take it from a kid, but Leslie's a smart, smart football player. You know, there's sometimes you coach guys and they don't get it. And you figure they're going to get it when they get here, and sometimes they don't get it for a year, two or three.
But Leslie is a guy that just picked up what we were teaching him. He picked it up really quick. So we love that about Leslie. Obviously, the athletic, you know, things that he can do, we loved him because of that. The intelligence is a thing to me that stands out to that guy. After camp, the linebackers, especially Oluwaseun Idowu, was coming up saying, "Coach, we need this guy. This guy's awesome." Oluwaseun and our players get to understand who is coachable, who is not coachable. So it's a great learning experience for them.
So Leslie's a guy that we're excited about.
We've got one safety in Brandon Hill from Wekiva High School down in the Orlando area. We're excited to have Brandon, super athlete. I mean, he'd send me tape during the season, some of his highlights and some of his picks, pick sixes. This guy can run, he can catch, he's a ball hawk, and he'll smack you as well. He's a tremendous football player and a tremendous player -- excuse me, tremendous player in person. Just love this kid. He's always got a smile on his face, and we can't wait to get him here as well.
Then we've got one corner that A.J. Woods from Northwest High School. Again, same high school as Deandre Jules that came to camp, and it took us a little longer to offer A.J. May have been two or three weeks.
I probably screwed that up. I should have offered him immediately. But I believe he ran the fastest 40 time in camp, and I'll just give it to you, because he may not be the fastest, but he ran a legit 4.4 on our turf indoors -- 4.3, I'm getting corrected back there. It was a 4.3. Sorry, A.J.
But A.J. is a fast dude. We know it's legit speed. Sometimes you look at Nike camps, Graham always gets mad when I say I don't trust all those Nike -- Jerry DePaul could be there timing people. Jerry's timing with his thumb.
But when we got our watch on that guy, and he runs a 4.3 or 4.4, it's a fast time, especially on the turf, in the summer. Who knows if he ran it at camp prior to that. Some kids come in back-to-back. Again, we do a great job.
The other thing, I guess I've got to thank Chad and the rest of our video guys, one of the things they do when they come to camp, we get to video all these guys. So even if a guy runs a 4.7, we look to see did he get a terrible start? Did he trip and fall, did he run through the 40 yard?
So the 40 time itself doesn't matter as much as we watch the technique and how they run through that thing. So we film everything.
Chad and his crew, as well as our recruiting office breaks that thing down. We can just watch, you know, a Crisp, peek video and see everything he's doing, and makes us efficient as far as what we do. So I think that's aided our staff in offering the guys that we want to be a part of this program.
But A.J., again, fast, cover guy, didn't have many balls thrown at him this year because he was locked down. He's a guy that likes to press. He was a guy that, like I said, took me a couple weeks to offer him. I was kind of waiting on somebody else. Finally I just said hey, this guy's too good of a football player, we're going. And, you know, I appreciate him having patience and trust in who we were.
So that's our 18 football players for the 2019 class. I guess I'll open it up for questions. I probably talked too much already anyway. Who's got some questions? I answered it all?
Q. Did you feel like as you went on the road in the last few weeks, different reception after going to the ACC Championship game? Any momentum or energy out of that?
PAT NARDUZZI: Not really. Because we were already -- recruiting is already under way, I think maybe that ACC Championship may help us in the 2020 class more than it's going to help in the '19. You can count on -- I don't know how many commitments we had after that game. Maybe one. I don't even know.
So I can't tell you that game or being in that game has helped this class, but I think it helps for the future of what we can do here in Pittsburgh as a football team.
I think people will open their eyes to it, but I think it maybe will play a bigger factor in 2020 because most of our guys already believed we could win a championship. They already committed to us long ago, and hung in there and really, to me that 2019 class was part of this championship class.
Q. You said that (Indiscernible), anybody else?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yes. Good question. Davis will be here for sure, Liam Dick will be here for sure, so they'll be here. And I hope to know something on Jared. If you guys want to call him tonight and tell him the plusses and minuses, that's great. You can tweet at him. I don't have his Twitter on me, but I'm sure you do. I don't know what Jared's going to do, but I'm happy. He originally back in the summer when he committed he said I'm coming mid-year, and then halfway through the year he said, "Coach, I hope you're not mad at me. I feel like I should finish my year out." I said, "Jared, definitely not going to be mad at you. You've got to be ready for this. This is a big step to go to the next level. If you're not a hundred percent ready, I don't want you to be here. If you're 99, you should stay in high school. You've got plenty of time to get here."
So I don't rush those guys at all to come. So if he comes, that's great. If he doesn't, you know, it's what's best for Jared. So we'll have possibly three, but two for sure.
Q. What is it that you think makes this class unique or special? Is it so many of them on the same day like they did, or something else that stands out to you about this group?
PAT NARDUZZI: I would say that June 18th weekend, the way that group came together, the way they, you know, they just bonded that weekend. There's something about the bonding that happened that weekend that was special.
Those guys, like I said, that group chat that they've got going, those guys are just a loyal group of guys that bonded that weekend together.
I'm not just talking the players bonding with each other. I'm talking the families. You talk about going to school for four, five years and being around other parents, moms and dads that you enjoyed being around. And they had 48 hours of memories together that weekend, and that really just kicked off. Again, that's a tribute to our staff and what we did that weekend. Really just who we are as people.
I don't think you get any smoke and mirrors when you come here. You get what we are, who we are, and, you know, I think the University of Pittsburgh sells itself. I think that's the people here.
When I first took the job here, and I never lived in Pittsburgh. Everybody talks about the people in Pittsburgh, and that's what we've grown into. It's all about the people, from Heather Lyke when she comes to talk on a Friday night, to Mark Harding and to all the coaches and everybody that's involved through the weekends. Wherever we eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can -- everybody makes an impact.
Q. Are you finding there is more competition for these kids than maybe four, five years ago?
PAT NARDUZZI: I don't know if there's more competition. I'd say there's no more competition. There's great football in this area, and everybody's always going to come in this area. It's Western Pennsylvania. You know, sometimes it's a great year; sometimes it's a down year. But I think the same people -- nobody in the country is saying we're not going into Western Pennsylvania and recruit for whatever reason. They're all coming back.
If you have ten Power Five guys or you have six or 26, I think Western Pennsylvania speaks for itself. The coaching that's done in this area is up here. I mean, any game you go to, I think it's impressive, it's impressive. I text Coach Warfield after the game, it was like, hey, that was impressive just the way their kids acted on the sideline, how they played, how hard they played. The fun they were having. It just goes to show first year, Coach. I congratulated him again on a state championship with what he did there, he came in there and got it done.
Q. Is it more difficult to recruit in this area?
PAT NARDUZZI: It's always been difficult. It's always been difficult. We recruited this area when -- yeah, at the last school I was at. I don't know how much success they've had in this area, it's always been hard. It's always been hard.
Q. You have 13 guys (Indiscernible), how did that change things from a planning perspective? Did it allow you to be more careful and diligent about the rest of the guys that you wanted to take moving forward after you got the big bump?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, you're planning definitely -- your board changes. Like I said, unfortunately, that weekend we had to tell guys we can't take you. We can't take you. We had a guy that signed with the school in California that was on that weekend that we had to say, sorry, we can't take you. He signed with a pretty good team out west.
I mean, yeah, it changed that weekend. It changed every meeting I got into it changed. It changed by the minute. Then you could be a little bit more selective as you went through. Again, really what it helped us do, especially with losing a week, it gave us an opportunity to narrow down on what we want, what our needs are because you knew what you had already, and I think that was the best thing about it.
You didn't have to watch as much tape. You think about the volume of tape. What it's done is given us a great jump on the next class. When you think January's coming around, I mean, we'll be out heavily recruiting that 2020 class, and that's the advantage of having this early signing period is now, really, January becomes spring recruiting, okay. I don't know what May becomes. When we get to spring recruiting, I don't know what that becomes. But it's almost like the NCAA has to change the whole calendar a little bit, I think.
Q. Year two of this early signing period, maybe has it changed at all your opinion of how you handle a guy that's committed to you guys or didn't commit to you guys and did not end up signing today for whatever reason?
PAT NARDUZZI: Say the beginning part of the question?
Q. Has your mind changed or has your opinion sort of evolved how you deal with those kind of situations, a guy that hasn't technically decommited, but didn't sign today?
PAT NARDUZZI: No, these young men got a lot of people in their ears, okay. I still feel really good. We're good either way. We're going to survive either way.
But, no, my opinion hasn't changed at all. I love the early signing. I love the ability to bring guys in in June. You're not going to get them all. I think every year is gets harder and harder to hold on to everybody, because there are so many trainers, coaches, parents, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle that are telling them different things. I'm not going to talk about anybody that's not with us, but just, you know, you have to have patience, and everybody's different.
You've got to understand their differences. Some people want to enjoy the process. Some people are truly confused.
I've got a nephew that was going to sign somewhere today, and I haven't had a chance to text him to find out where he went. But I was getting, you know, getting phone calls, trying to help out with that situation.
You know, he had some good choices, and there was an issue as far as where he was supposed to sign and what he wanted to do. You know, it was crazy. So there are a lot of things that go on in these kids lives that sometimes we don't all understand. But we've got to be patient. And I respect these kids for what they do and the choices they have to make. It's not easy.
Q. You don't recruit based on their star rankings, I guess. But when you see the top 25 programs tend to get a lot of the top 25 recruiting classes, how much does the performance this season and even especially the ACC Championship game make you realize the difference of the type of players you need to get to get to the next level in terms of winning a championship?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, you could always use better players and bigger players, but I think when you look at the tape, you evaluate where you are, you don't have to get all those five-stars to do that. We've done it before. You're looking at Clemson's a good football team. We beat them one other time. And they are here. They're the measuring stick. You think, of the ACC right now, and maybe the country if they win another National Championship.
So they're elite. They're in an elite area of football down south. It's a little different ballgame. It doesn't mean we can't beat them in the ACC Championship. We'll do it with our guys. We'll do it with character, and we'll find a way to get it done.
But we're going to recruit the guys we're capable of recruiting. We're not going to wine if we don't get a five-star. There are a lot of five stars that we love. There are a lot of five stars that we don't love, and we're like see you later, not good enough and there are a lot of things you don't like about them. I like those hungry guys.
I'm not saying we're going to turn down four and five-star players, because that's not what we do. We don't even look at it. We're looking at the best football players that fit our system. That fit who we are, and that are going to fit our football team. That's the important thing. I've been involved with some of those guys, excuse me, I've been involved with some of those guys that can drive this room nuts with egos and that doesn't help a football team win.
You can see that. You can look at the programs that get four, five stars that win championships. And you can look at some of the others that get four and five stars that don't win any. Why is that?
Q. I was going to ask you, is it fair to say that you're trying to build a program with a certain type of character that the four or five-star players will gravitate toward as opposed to the other way around, trying to bring in four, five stars that will build a program up a certain way?
PAT NARDUZZI: We're not looking for guys that just fit our -- there are a lot of great character four- and five-star guys that fit perfectly in here. We want the best student-athlete we can get, the character, the whole deal. It doesn't matter what the stars are. We're recruiting. We throw offers out to those guys. They've got to get on campus. If we can get them on campus, we have a chance to get them. If we're not going to get them on campus, we're not going to have an opportunity to get that guy.
Q. Would getting the ACC title help that cause?
PAT NARDUZZI: It will certainly help that cause. We talked about that earlier. Maybe it didn't help us in '19, but I think it will help us in '20 and going forward, for sure.
Q. Do you have an idea of how many guys you're still looking at for the next signing period or what positions that you still feel like you want to fill?
PAT NARDUZZI: I'm going to have no comment on that. We'll just, no, not really. It's always fluid, I think. You see how the transfer thing happens. We're going to just keep moving. I don't know. I don't know.
Q. Will there be transfers this year?
PAT NARDUZZI: I don't know.
Q. In terms of the reception, you said it's going to help new 2020 --
A. We think it will.
Q. What has it been like to go into homes or start recruiting kids that are in the sophomore, junior classes saying, hey, the ACC (Indiscernible). How much have you seen that in the early stages?
PAT NARDUZZI: We can't go into any of those sophomore or juniors houses and we can't even talk to them at school. We can't do that. But it's just that image of playing in that game, and there are only 12 teams playing on that day.
So we've had limited contact with those guys. We know who they are. We walk into their high schools. You may watch them in spring ball. You may watch them in their practices in the playoffs. You may watch them play basketball. You may watch them wrestle, but we've had no contact with them. You may walk by them, but that's about it. You can't talk to them.
So that's kind of -- but it's nice when you walk in with that on, and it's nice if you walk in with a shirt that says ACC Championship or ACC Coastal Championship shirts on, which we'll have in January.
Q. This is kind of silly, but you got to walk by a kid, but you can't actually say hello?
PAT NARDUZZI: I like the rule. I like the rule.
Q. Why is that?
PAT NARDUZZI: Well, first of all, when you talk about having a conversation with a guy, it can get out of control. What's going to stop you from going to an elementary school with this big kid? You know, sometimes there are rumors out there that we've offered an eighth grader or ninth grader. That's a bunch of baloney. I'll start there.
But we don't need -- those kids need to live their life. They don't need that early contact. I wish it would slow down. I told I like to slow it down, and I think too much coaches nowadays make too many mistakes offering guys early. I mean, that's why I like what we do. We try to slow the process down. If we don't get that five-star guy because we're not sure or we don't see him in camp, I'm good with that.
I'd rather be sure with who we get than taking swings at guys that aren't good enough in our opinion in our evaluation.
Everybody has a different evaluation. Everybody has different motives as far as why they offer a kid. Why does a guy get offered to go to the NFL combine and doesn't play much of his senior year or his junior year? Why is that? They've got different things that they have to get done.
You know, so I have no regrets. I don't want to have a conversation -- we don't have time for that either. If our coaches were going out, talking to juniors, they're not getting to as many schools and seeing as many high school coaches as they can. We want to contact as many different schools as we can. If I spend an hour-and-a-half over here talking to that guy, it's massive change I don't see in the spring. If there was a good player in the spring, let's just say this May, looking at the 2020 class, if there's a four-star here in the city of Pittsburgh or a player that everybody in the country has offered, can you imagine what that guy would get done academically that day in that four, five-week period? He wouldn't get anything done.
He might as well not go to class, and I just don't think there is a need for it. I think it's way too early, and they've still got time -- they still have room for development. That's my old school opinion.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports