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2008 Pitt Panthers Season
Pitt RB LeSean McCoy
Pitt RB LeSean McCoy
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 4, 2009


2008 Pitt Panthers Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2008 Pitt Panthers

Dec. 31
2008 Sun Bowl
Oregon State 3 … Pitt 0

Oregon State’s Justin Kahut hit a 44-yard field goal with just over two minutes to play in the first half, and that was it for scoring. Pitt was held to just 178 yards of total offense and was thoroughly dominated by the Oregon State defensive front, yet it had two late chances to tie it. Conor Lee missed a 58-yard field goal, and a last drive at midfield was snuffed out. Oregon State made 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, with Victor Butler coming up with four, but it’s not like the Beaver offense provided much help. With star RB Jacquizz Rodgers out, the OSU running game was held to 80 yards.
Player of the Game: Oregon State DE Victor Butler made 11 tackles, four sacks, five tackles for loss, and forced and recovered a fumble.
Stat Leaders: Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 7-24, 52 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 24-85. Receiving: Dorin Dickerson, 2-37
Oregon State - Passing: Lyle Moevao, 21-42, 193 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Jeremy Francis, 15-76. Receiving: Sammie Stroughter, 6-88
Inside The Box Score ...  - 5 Thoughts on the Sun Bowl …Scott Ransom and Scott McKillop each made 11 tackles for the Panthers … Oregon State P Johnny Hekker averaged 45 yards on his ten kicks and put five inside the 20 … Third down conversions: OSU 3-of-17 – Pitt 2-of-15 … Punts: OSU 10-for-450 yards – Pitt 10-for-429 … Total offense: OSU 273 – Pitt 178 … The two teams combined to turn it over five times … Yards per carry: OSU 2.7 – Pitt 2.4

- 2008 Pitt Preview  
- 2007 Pitt Season

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
10-2
2008 Record: 8-
4

Aug. 30 Bowling Green L 27-17
Sept. 6 Buffalo W 27-16
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 Iowa W 21-20
Sept. 27 at Syracuse W 34-24
Oct. 2 at South Florida W 26-21
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 at Navy W 42-21
Oct. 25 Rutgers L 54-34
Nov. 1 at N. Dame W 36-33 4OT
Nov. 8 Louisville W 41-7
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Cincinnati L 28-21
Nov. 28 West Virginia W 19-15
Dec. 6 at Connecticut
Sun Bowl
Dec. 31 Oregon State L 3-0

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
9-3
2007 Record: 5-7

Sept. 1 Eastern Mich W 27-3
Sept. 8 Grambling W 34-10
Sept. 13 at Michigan St L 17-13
Sept. 22 Connecticut L 34-14
Sept. 29 at Virginia L 44-14
Oct. 10 Navy L 48-45 2OT
Oct. 20 Cincinnati W 24-17
Oct. 27 at Louisville L 24-17
Nov. 3
Syracuse W 20-17
Nov. 17 at Rutgers L 20-16
Nov. 24
South Florida L 48-37
Dec. 1 at West Virginia W 13-9

Nov. 28
Pitt 19 … West Virginia 15
LeSean McCoy ran for a one-yard score with 52 seconds to play to cap a fourth quarter rally to win the Backyard Brawl and send Cincinnati to the BCS. McCoy’s five-yard touchdown run following an interception from Jovani Chappel that put the ball on the WVU 16. The Mountaineers got three Pat McAfee field goals and a brilliant reverse-field 54-yard touchdown dash from Pat White, but couldn’t get back on the board in the final 11 minutes. Pitt started the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown catch from Derek Kinder.
Player of the game: Pitt RB LeSean McCoy ran 33 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 17 yards
Stat Leaders: Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 12-23, 156 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 33-183, 2 TD. Receiving: Nate Byham, 4-69
West Virginia - Passing: Pat White, 15-28, 143 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Pat White 12-93, 1 TD. Receiving: Bradley Starks, 4-38
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Pitt’s win might have given Cincinnati the Big East crown and a spot in the BCS, but that doesn’t mean this year has been a total disappointment for a Panther team looking to get to the big money games. If the Panthers can beat UConn to end the regular season, they’ll finish second in the Big East; that’s not bad. LeSean McCoy earned his 183 yards on 33 carries, which helped mask a mediocre day from QB Bill Stull. Defensively, the Panther did a great job of holding the West Virginia ground game in check for the second year in a row outside of the one big touchdown run from Pat White.   

Nov. 22
Cincinnati 28 … Pitt 21
Pitt RB LeSean McCoy started off the scoring with a six-yard run just over five minutes in, and then Tony Pike took over. Continuing to play with a broken arm, the UC QB was sharp hitting on 26-of-32 passes with three scores on the way to a 28-point run. Pike connected with Marcus Barnett from 20 yards out, Dominick Goodman from four yards away, and Marshwan Gilyard from 39 yards out. Jacob Ramsey added what would be the winning score with a two-yard run early in the fourth, and then Pitt mounted a comeback attempt. McCoy ran for a 16-yard score on the ensuing drive, and Dorin Dickerson scored on a 41-yard pass play with 1:22 to play, but that would be as close as the Panthers would come.
Player of the game: Cincinnati QB Tony Pike completed 26-of-32 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran nine times for 33 yards
Stat Leaders: Cincinnati - Passing: Tony Pike, 26-32, 309 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Tony Pike, 9-33. Receiving: Marshwan Gilyard, 8-110, 1 TD
Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 18-28, 229 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 17-82, 2 TD. Receiving: LeSean McCoy, 6-45
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Cincinnati is now a win away from going to the show. All the Bearcats need to do is beat lowly Syracuse and they’re playing in the BCS after winning four straight and eight of their last nine. Tony Pike was magnificent making big throw after big throw, hitting his receivers on short to midrange passes in places where they could do something with it. The defensive line was fantastic at getting into the backfield, and while it couldn’t stop star RB LeSean McCoy, it made the plays needed to get the huge, program-changing win.
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Just when it seems like Pitt is about to make a big run and take over the Big East, it couldn’t slow down the Cincinnati defensive front and it couldn’t stop the Bearcats’ quick passing game. Time after time, the Panthers just missed out on coming up with the play as they were picked clean on timing patterns. All is not completely lost, even if the Panthers need UC to lose to Syracuse to have a shot at going to the BCS. Pitt can still come up with a 10-win season by beating West Virginia and UConn, along with the bowl game. That would continue the progression and would be a huge help for Dave Wannstedt and the coaching staff.

Nov. 8
Pitt 41 … Louisville 7
Pitt dominated from the start on both sides of the ball getting out to a 17-0 first half lead helped by a brilliant leaping 26-yard Oderick Turner touchdown catch and a seven-yard run from Aundre Wright. Louisville benched quarterback Hunter Cantwell for a stretch, but he came back to throw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Troy Pascley in the third. That was is for the Louisville fun as five turnovers proved to be costly. LeSean McCoy took a direct snap 11 yards for a sore and then the defense and special teams got into the act. Ricky Gary returned a fumble three yards for a score and Scott McKilliop returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown.
Player of the game: Pitt QB Bill Stull completed 15-of-27 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Hunter Cantwell, 15-28, 164 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Victor Anderson, 17-73. Receiving: Doug Beaumont, 5-65
Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 15-27, 216 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 17-39, 1 TD. Receiving: Derek Kinder, 4-30
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Pitt showed that it could win a game without LeSean McCoy. The threat of McCoy, at least, helped the cause in the win over Louisville, but it was the defense that owned the game, and the special teams that came up with two takeaways. Bill Stull proved to be a steadying force for the offense with a mistake-free passing game that took advantage of the Cardinal mistakes. Now the Panthers are assured of going bowling, and now they can shoot for the big prize: the Big East title. If they play like this over the final three weeks, they’ll have it.
 

Nov. 1
Pitt 36 … Notre Dame 33 4OT
In a battle of overtime field goals, Pitt’s Conor Lee hit his fifth of the game, and the fourth in the extra time, on a 22-yarder after Notre Dame’s Brandon Walker, who hit three from 22, 26 and 48 in the OTs and four in the game, just missed his kick. The crazy ending overshadowed a huge day from Pitt RB LeSean McCoy, who had a big second half, finishing with 269 yards, and ran for a one-yard score to tie it at 17. The Notre Dame passing game got hot in the first half with Michael Floyd touchdown grabs from 18 and four yards out just 1:23 apart. Jimmy Clausen threw his third touchdown pass of the game on a six-yarder to Golden Tate late in the fourth, but Pitt answered with a 10-yard Jonathan Baldwin catch that ended up forcing overtime. Pitt ended up turning it over three times, while Notre Dame didn’t turn it over.
Player of the game: Pitt RB LeSean McCoy ran 32 times for 169 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 23 yards
Stat Leaders: Notre Dame - Passing: Jimmy Clausen, 23-44, 271 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Armando Allen, 19-73. Receiving: Michael Floyd, 10-100, 2 TD
Pitt - Passing: Pat Bostick, 14-27, 164 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 32-169, 1 TD. Receiving: Oderick Turner, 2-42
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Exhale. Bowl eligibility. It has been a rocky road with the loss to Bowling Green to start out and the clunker to Rutgers last week, but with quarterback issues, overall inconsistency, and plenty of naysayers, Pitt is bowl eligible needing just one more win to give Dave Wannstedt a winning season. After holding tough to beat Notre Dame, it’s time to focus on big things in the Big East. The key will be limiting turnovers, keeping LeSean McCoy going, and securing up a secondary that’s struggling. After getting picked apart by Rutgers’ Mike Teel and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, holding up against Louisville’s Hunter Cantwell will be job one.

Oct. 25
Rutgers 54 … Pitt 34
Rutgers got six touchdown passes from Mike Teel with three going to Kenny Britt as the offense exploded for the first time all year. RU jumped out to a 20-7 lead helped by a 60-yard catch from Tim Brown and a 79-yard play from Britt. Pitt was able to keep up the pace thanks to LeSean McCoy, who ran for touchdowns from 33 and 22 yards out along with two one-yard scores, but the Teel was one finding Brown for a 36-yard touchdown in the third quarter for a 41-31 lead, and Kordell Young put it away with two short scoring runs.  
Player of the game: Rutgers QB Mike Teel completed 14-of-21 passes for 361 yards and six touchdowns with an interception
Stat Leaders: Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 16-22, 279 yds
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 26-146, 4 TD. Receiving: Jonathan Baldwin, 5-81
Rutgers - Passing: Mike Teel, 14-21, 361 yds, 6 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kordell Young, 20-83, 2 TD. Receiving: Kenny Britt, 5-143, 3 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Where was this Rutgers offense all year? The running game was fine against Pitt with Kordell Young doing a good job, but it was Mike Teel who had a bizarre, but productive day throwing six touchdown passes on just 14 completions. Is this really going to be the catalyst for a big second half? After beating Connecticut and now Pitt, two of the big boys are out of the way with a trip to South Florida the biggest remaining problem. There won’t be any Big East title talk, but bowl hopes are back on.

Oct. 18
Pitt 42 … Navy 21
LeSean McCoy ran for three scores including dashes from 11 and 58 yards out in the second quarter, and LaRod Stephens-Howling ran for two short first quarter scores, on the way to a 35-14 Panther halftime lead. The offense kept rolling to start the second half as Jonathan Baldwin took a pass 60 yards for a score on the opening drive, and Navy couldn’t answer. The Midshipmen got a 40-yard Shun White touchdown run and short scoring runs from Jarod Bryant and Ricky Dobbs, but even with three Pitt turnovers helping the cause, the offense couldn’t keep up the pace.
Player of the game: Pitt RB LeSean McCoy ran 18 times for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught two passes for 46 yards
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Ricky Dobbs, 1-1, 39 yds
Rushing: Jarod Bryant, 21-81, 1 TD. Receiving: Mario Washington, 2-46
Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 15-23, 255 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 18-156, 3 TD. Receiving: Jonathan Baldwin, 3-101, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Pitt is humming. Not only did the defense keep the dangerous Navy offense in check, allowing just 194 yards, but the offense was clicking with a near-perfect balance with 255 yards passing and 244 on the ground. LeSean McCoy got a little room to move, and when he got into space he was cranking out big plays. Now on a good roll with a five-game winning streak, the momentum has to continue against Rutgers next week to keep pecking away at the Big East schedule.

Oct. 2
Pitt 26 ... South Florida 21
South Florida got out to a hot start with a blocked punt for a score from Charlton Sinclair, but Pitt quickly bounced back with 17 straight first half points highlighted by a Jonathan Baldwin 52-yards touchdown grab and a six-yard LeSean McCoy run, but USF came back. A 22-yard Jessie Hester scroing grab with under five minutes to go gave the Bulls a one point leas, but the Panthers went 60 yards on three plays finishing with a McCoy three-yard score. USF had its chances throughout the game but got a field goal blocked and missed on a fake field goal. The Panthers held on to the ball for 36:54.
Player of the game: Pitt RB LeSean McCoy ran 28 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 23 yards.  
Stat Leaders: Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 16-27, 228 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
LeSean McCoy, 28-142, 2 TD. Receiving:
Conredge Collins, 4-25
South Florida
- Passing: Matt Grothe, 11-21, 129 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Mike Ford, 14-73. Receiving: Jessie Hester, 3-34, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... All of a sudden, Pitt is playing up to expectations. After beating Iowa and South Florida in the last few weeks, and with LeSean McCoy and the running game going, now the Panthers have to be considered the favorites to win the Big East title. Getting a steadier performance from QB Bill Stull is a must, while the defense has to stay effective. Scott McKillop had a huge day making 12 tackles with two sacks. While this wasn't as big a win as the win over West Virginia at the end of last year, it could turn out to be more important for Pitt. Now the program really does look like everything's coming together.

Sept. 27
Pitt 34 … Syracuse 24
Pitt overcame a sluggish start and a 24-13 deficit to crank out 21 unanswered points with LaRod Stephens-Howling running for two short scores and Conor Lee hitting two field goals. Syracuse started off its scoring by answering a first quarter 40-yard Lee field goal with a 90-yard kickoff return for a score from Michael Holmes. The Orange got two touchdown passes from Cameron Dantley on the way to the lead, but the offense bogged down late and the Pitt running game took over. Pitt outgained SU 407 yards to 263.
Player of the game: Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy ran for 108 yards on 21 carries and had a reception for one yard.
Stat Leaders: Pittsburgh - Passing: Bill Stull, 16-27, 157 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
LeSean McCoy, 21-108. Receiving: Derek Kinder, 8-92
Syracuse
- Passing: Cameron Dantley, 8-12, 131 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing:
Curtis Brinkley, 14-107. Receiving: Lavar Lobdel, 3-52
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Pitt finally got the running game going for the first time this year, and it took a game against Syracuse to do it. The offense moved the ball, and was strong on third downs, holding the ball for 38:20, but it’s took too long to take control of the game. Dave Wannstedt went for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter, and converted on a sneak, and the team never looked back, but it should’ve never come to that. The Panthers have to be far sharper on offense in the first half to have any chance against South Florida next week.

Sept. 20
Pitt 21 ... Iowa 20
Pitt got first half touchdown run from Greg Cross and QB Bill Stull, and a 27-yard third quarter scoring dash from Lean McCoy, but it was the defense that came through late not letting Iowa get close to scoring range late. The Hawkeyes pulled within one on a 39-yard Trent Mossbrucker field goal in the fourth quarter, but was stuck with bad field position for the final drives. Iowa's touchdowns came on short runs from Shonn Greene and Jake Christensen to get up 17-14 going into the fourth quarter, but McCoy's touchdown turned into the game-winner. Pitt was outgained 361 yards to 259.
Player of the game: Pittsburgh RB LeSean McCoy rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, catching a pair of passes for 33 yards.
Stat Leaders: Iowa
- Passing: Jake Christensen, 12-24, 124 yds
Rushing: Shonn Greene, 23-147, 1 TD. Receiving: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, 6-75
Pittsburgh
- Passing: Bill Stull, 11-25, 129 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 18-78, 1 TD. Receiving: LeSean McCoy, 2-33
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Pitt hardly played like a world-beater against Iowa, the offense struggled to do anything through the air, but it was a nice win over a good opponent. It's premature to say that this should change the season around, but the chance is there to go on a little run with a trip to woeful Syracuse next week. The defense has to keep up the pressure that screwed up the Iowa offense, but Bill Stull has to do a far better job of keeping the chains moving.

Sept. 6
Pitt 27 … Buffalo 16
Pitt survived a second straight tough game against a MAC team thanks to three short LeSean McCoy touchdown runs and two Conor Lee field goals from 21 and 42 yards out. Buffalo held a 17-16 lead in the fourth quarter helped by a 39-yard Brett Hamlin scoring grab, but the Pitt defense stiffened in the fourth quarter and the offense came through with two late scoring drives. Pitt gained 352 yards to UB’s 348.
Player of the game:
 Pitt RB LeSean McCoy ran 20 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Buffalo - Passing: Drew Willy, 21-34, 223 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: James Starks, 20-97  Receiving: Naaman Roosevelt, 6-65
Pitt - Passing: Bill Stull, 22-33, 241 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 20-93, 3 TD. Receiving: T.J. Porter, 6-57
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Pitt might have survived against Buffalo, but it was hardly a confidence-inspiring performance. LeSean McCoy had problems shaking loose for big runs, but he was effective, while Bill Stull had a nice game once he got into a groove. Even so, there has to be a major concern that the team still isn’t playing up to its talent level. Is it mental or is the team just not that good? It’s almost like the Panthers need one breakout performance to get its confidence level up.

Aug. 30
Bowling Green 27 ... Pitt 17
Bowling Green became the first MAC team to win at Pitt as it overcame a 14-0 deficit with a 14-0 second half on touchdown runs from Anthony Turner and Tyler Sheehan. Pitt opened up the scoring with an 11-yard LeSean McCoy touchdown run and a four-yard Derek Kinder scoring grab, but Bowling Green hung around with two Jimmy Schiedler touchdown catches in the second quarter and saw its defense come through with a big second half. The Falcons came up with four sacks, including two from Diyral Briggs, while the run defense held Pitt to 46 rushing yards over the final three quarters.
Player of the game: Bowling Green CB Antonio Smith had 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, two pass breakups, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Stat Leaders: Bowling Green - Passing: Tyler Sheehan, 24-40, 163 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Chris Bullock, 7-44. Receiving: Chris Bullock, 7-49
Pittsburgh - Passing: Bill Stull, 29-51, 264 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: LeSean McCoy, 23-71, 1 TD. Receiving: Cedric McGee, 6-55
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
There’s no sugarcoating how bad the Panthers’ loss was to Bowling Green. With expectations soaring for the nation’s No. 25 team, Pitt was lethargic and sloppy after the first quarter, raising the temperature for beleaguered head coach Dave Wannstedt. All of the concerns about the rebuilt offensive line came to life for four quarters as QB Bill Stull was harassed repeatedly and LeSean McCoy found little running room. In a pivotal season for the program and the coaching staff, but all is not lost. It's all about the Big East season, but Pitt has to be impressive next week against Buffalo or the overall attitude could go in the tank.

2008 Recruiting Class

Star of the Class

Shayne Hale, LB, 6-4, 240, Monroeville, Pa., Gateway
Earned status as one of the country’s top defensive players during his highly accomplished career at Gateway…first team All-USA selection by USA TodaySuperPrep All-American…PrepStar “Dream Team”…Scout.com All-American…rated one of the nation’s top 50 overall prospects by SuperPrep (No. 21), Scout (No. 38) and PrepStar (No. 44)…rated the nation’s No. 2 linebacker prospect by SuperPrep and No. 3 defensive end prospect by Scout…selected to play in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, where he announced his decision to attend Pitt during NBC’s live telecast…two-time first-team selection to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA All-State Team…rated Pennsylvania’s No. 3 overall prospect by SuperPrep, No.4 by Scout, No. 5 by Keystone Recruiting …rated No. 7 on Scout’s East Top 100 list…three-year starter at Gateway…played defensive end and linebacker his senior season and compiled 114 tackles, 25 tackles for losses, nine sacks, three forced fumbles and three pass breakups…was also a devastating blocker at fullback…led Gateway to a 24-11 mark (.686) during his career, including three WPIAL Class AAAA playoff berths…the Gators went 11-2 his senior season, capturing the “Big East” Conference championship and advancing to the WPIAL title game…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”…Harrisburg Patriot-News “Platinum 33”…played under Coach Terry Smith…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…one of two Gateway products to sign with Pitt in 2008, joining receiver Cameron Saddler…they will join two other Gateway graduates at Pitt, sophomore linebacker Dan Loheyde and redshirt freshman receiver Aaron Smith.

Potential Instant Impact Players

Jonathan Baldwin, WR, 6-5, 220, Aliquippa, Pa., Aliquippa
One of the country’s elite receiver prospects and multi-sport stars…selected to play in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl…SuperPrep All-American and Northeast Offensive Player of the Year…PrepStar “Dream Team”…Scout.com All-American…rated one of the country’s top 40 overall prospects by SuperPrep (No. 14), Scout (No. 20) and PrepStar (No. 38)…among national receiver prospects, was rated No. 3 by SuperPrep, No. 6 by Scout…named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AA All-State Team (first team)…rated the No. 2 prospect in Pennsylvania by SuperPrep, Scout and Keystone Recruiting…rated No. 3 on Scout’s East Top 100 list…had 41 receptions for 613 yards (14.9 avg.) and nine touchdowns as a senior…compiled 62 catches for 1,083 yards (17.5 avg.) and 14 touchdowns his final two years…helped team to a combined 19-4 record (.826) as a junior and senior, including berths in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs each season…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous 22”…Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 25”… Harrisburg Patriot-News “Platinum 33”…played under Coach Mike Zmijanac…selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic…in addition to being a national football recruit, also had several Division I scholarship offers in basketball, including Marquette…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Fabulous Five” and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “Terrific 10” honoree in basketball…was averaging more than 24 points per game through January of his senior year…averaged more than 21 points per game as a junior…an AAU basketball teammate of fellow Pitt recruit Mike Shanahan…in his first year of competing in track as a junior, finished third in the 100-meter dash at the PIAA Class AA championship meet, clocking in at 11.03 seconds…also was a member of the Quips’ PIAA champion 400-meter relay team

Greg Cross, QB, 6-2, 215, Brunswick, Ga., Glynn Academy, Fort Scott C.C. (Ks.)
Rated one of the country’s top 50 JUCO prospects overall by SuperPrep….joined Pitt in January with junior eligibility and will participate in spring drills…two-time All-Jayhawk Conference selection…was named the 2007 Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Year and NJCAA Region VI Offensive MVP…rated the No. 2 player overall in the region…Honorable Mention NJCAA All-American…paced the Jayhawk Conference in passing yards (2,127) and total offense (2,529)…accounted for 23 touchdowns (17 passing and six rushing)…ranked third nationally in total offense in the JUCO ranks, averaging 233 yards per game…Cross led a rejuvenation of Fort Scott’s football program…prior to his arrival, Fort Scott lost its prior 24 contests…in his two seasons as the team’s starting quarterback, Fort Scott went 16-8, won two conference titles and advanced to two bowl games… Fort Scott went 9-3 in 2007, the program’s best record since 1973, and played in the Valley of the Sun Bowl, where Cross threw two touchdowns and ran for an 85-yard score

Rest of the Class

Jonathan Baldwin WR 6-5 220 Aliquippa, Pa., Aliquippa
Chris Burns RB 5-11 190 New Wilmington, Pa., Wilmington Area
Greg Cross QB 6-2 215 Brunswick, Ga., Glynn Academy, Fort Scott C.C. (Ks.)
Mike Cruz TE 6-5 270 Johnstown, Pa., Bishop McCort
Shayne Hale LB 6-4 240 Monroeville, Pa., Gateway
Kevin Harper PK 5-10 170 Mentor, Ohio, Mentor
Ronald Hobby DB 5-10 175 Fort Washington, Md., Gwynn Park
Jarred Holley DB 5-10 170 Easton, Pa., Easton Area
Robb Houser OL 6-2 285 Chico, Calif., Durham H.S., Butte College (Calif.)
Lucas Nix OL 6-6 300 Jefferson Hills, Pa., Thomas Jefferson
Antwuan Reed DB 5-10 180 Johnstown, Pa., Greater Johnstown
Cameron Saddler WR 5-7 170 Monroeville, Pa., Gateway
Mike Shanahan WR 6-5 220 North Huntingdon, Pa., Norwin
Tino Sunseri QB 6-0 200 Pittsburgh, Pa., Pittsburgh Central Catholic
Andrew Taglianetti DB 5-11 175 Bridgeville, Pa., Pittsburgh Central Catholic
Joe Trebitz LB 6-3 200 Boca Raton, Fla., West Boca Raton
Ryan Turnley OL 6-6 300 Aliquippa, Pa., Hopewell
Justin Virbitsky TE 6-4 240 Jermyn, Pa., Lakeland
Manny Williams LB 6-1 205 Clairton, Pa., Clairton

2008 Early Lookahead
Why to get excited: 13-9. Talk about jump-starting a program, Pitt was slogging along in the midst of yet another mediocre season under Dave Wannstedt, and then it screwed up West Virginia's otherwise terrific year with the most important upset in a year of upsets. Now the expectations have skyrocketed with RB LeSean McCoy returning along with most of the key players on both sides of the ball to make this the Big East's "it" team going into 2008. Four of the seven losses were by four points or fewer with all very, very winnable.
Why to be grouchy: 13-9. The win in Morgantown glossed over a slew of major issue that made the Panthers disappointing in the first place. Can Pat Bostick consistently throw? Can the offense score on a consistent basis? Will McCoy have holes to run through with three starters, including possible NFL first round pick Jeff Otah, gone off the line? Can the pass protection improve? Outside of the West Virginia game, Wannstedt hasn't proven he can get his team to play up to its capability. 
The number one thing to work on is: The quarterback situation. Bostick was a big recruit a few years ago and has potential, but he'll have to hold off Bill Stull, who was supposed to be the main man before hurting his thumb, Kevan Smith, and JUCO transfers Greg Cross and Robb Houser. They're not all going to be there by the start of the year with at least one certain to transfer. Handing off to McCoy will only go so far; someone has to improve the passing game.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Jeff Otah
Biggest defensive loss: DE Joe Clermond
Best returning offensive player: RB LeSean McCoy, Soph.
Best returning defensive player: LB Scott McKillop, Sr.

2007 Recap
Recap: If not for a spate of injuries, the past fall might have become the breakthrough season that Dave Wannstedt has been craving since returning to his alma mater.  Despite finishing out of the bowl picture for the third consecutive year, Pittsburgh will remember 2007 as the year it broke the seal on franchise RB LeSean McCoy, and ruined rival West Virginia’s season in a one-for-the-ages Backyard Brawl.  The defense, ranked No. 7 nationally, kept the Panthers in plenty of games, but could have used a lot more help from an offense that sputtered too often in the red zone.           

Offensive Player of the Year: RB LeSean McCoy

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Scott McKillop

Biggest Surprise: Stunning No. 2 West Virginia, 13-9, in the regular season capper as a four-touchdown underdog.  Even in a zany season that was marked by upsets, no one could have seen this bombshell coming.  The Panthers got enough from the defense and the running game to throw the BCS into its familiar state of chaos as the year came to a close. 

Biggest Disappointment: Some poor officiating got in the way of Pitt’s upset bid at Rutgers on Nov. 17.  On the brink of evening its record at 5-5, Panther WR Oderick Turner got flagged for a questionable pass interference after catching the apparent game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds remaining.  The loss dropped Pitt to 4-6, crushing any hopes for a bowl game.

Looking Ahead: Okay, we’ve heard this before, but this really could be the year Pittsburgh challenges for the Big East championship.  All signs point to a promising 2008 for the program if it can find a playmaker at quarterback out of injured veteran Bill Stull and sporadic rookie Pat Bostick.
 
 

 

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