Thoughts, thoughts and thoughts, dudes...
1. Losing McKenzie to VT doesn't sting quite as badly as losing Nicholson and Henry. Pitt has at least some decent depth at that position with Bennett, Conner and Ibrahim. Crockett is still in the mix as well, though I wouldn't be surprised if he transferred out. If he does - or hell, even if he doesn't - I wouldn't be surprised to see James factor in at some point as he may be too good to keep off the field.
2. I hated to see Nicholson go because he could have likely stepped in as early as 2014 and made an impact. That said, he's the one prospect they were chasing whose name has most often been attached to the word "overrated". Maybe that's the Gateway stigma, or maybe it's not really the case. That said, I'll be interested to see how he does at Michigan State. They're a fun team to watch on defense.
3. The one that stings the most is Henry. This certainly doesn't break the Aliquippa pipeline for Pitt (suffice it to say, Pitt will always at least be an option for their kids because there is a high value placed by the community and the program on their kids staying home to play). But a lot of the reports that emerged about the way his recruitment was handled left me wondering a little. There were reports that Pitt went a month between contact calls with him...that he called the Pitt football offices and his calls were left un-returned. It wasn't reportedly addressed until after the reports became public. If those are true, that's inexplicable.
Then there were the comments his mother made. Accurate or not (which players did they speak to? Active? Former? Anyone with an ax to grind?), it allowed for the perception to emerge that there is some sort of discord between players and DC House. For those who have already been critical of Chryst and his performance to date, those comments have been like giving a pyro a couple of cans of gasoline and a bonfire.
4. Cheesesteakwithegg's comments about potential attrition on the defensive side of the ball will probably be the most telling evidence of any potential disconnect between coaches and players. Losing veterans would be one thing, but losing younger players like Bam Bradley would be something different. I wasn't a fan of House's promotion and the defense was a mixed bag. Some players regressed - Pitts, in particular (maybe because of the scheme?), but others - Gonzalez, Vinopal, Murphy, the younger DBs - got better as the season went on. If the younger players start going (Bradley, the Clairton kids on defense, etc), that's when I would worry.
5. I want to see how the rest of this class shakes out. They still have the potential to make a good amount of noise and bring in some decent kids.
They're still very much in the running for WR's Jamil Kamara and Adonis Jennings. Kamara is a National Top 150 player according to 247sports.com, will be playing in the US Army All-American game and is down to Pitt, Wisconsin and Virginia. They also lead for Adonis Jennings (6'3", 190) over offers from Iowa, Arizona, Arkansas and Clemson. Either of those two would be huge.
They two on defense that have most caught my eye are Canton-McKinley LB Jamal Davis and Florida safety Marquese Dudley-Gordon (6'1", 190 lbs). He's a top 150 player in Florida with offers from Arkansas, Cincy, Michigan State, Louisville, Wisconsin and Wake Forest.
6. One thing I like to see recruiting-wise is the regional footprint. According to 247sports, Pitt has had extensive contact with 155 different prospects. 60 of them are from PA and 21 from Ohio. But they've also begun to focus on the Atlantic coast (VA - 6, MD - 8, DE - 3, DC - 1, NJ - 6, NC - 4) and SEC country (FL - 12, GA - 6, SC - 1) as well. Hitting those ACC & SEC overlap regions will be huge for this program going forward. I'd like to see even more focus there in upcoming classes.