Feb. 4, 2009
PITTSBURGH-Standing in the Panthers' locker room at Heinz Field this afternoon, University of Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt announced the signing of 20 prospects to National Letters of Intent.
"We have been fortunate to sign some quality recruiting classes the last four years," Wannstedt said. "I believe our 2009 edition is a continuation of that strong pattern.
"While recruiting these young men, the message we continually received was they want to be part of what we are building here at Pitt. This past season was a big step forward for our program. These recruits noticed that and believe they can help us make even greater strides in the future. That's the goal and that's why we put such a heavy emphasis on recruiting outstanding players and people."
Pitt's class is comprised of players from six different states. In addition to Pennsylvania, the Panthers' recruiting arm stretched to New Jersey, New York, Florida, Texas and Maryland.
Pitt's 2009 class includes:
· Four players named All-Americans by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, including tight end Brock DeCicco (Thomas Jefferson), defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell (Steel Valley), defensive lineman Jack Lippert (Central Dauphin) and wide receiver Todd Thomas (Beaver Falls).
· A total of six players named All-Americans by either PrepStar or SuperPrep recruiting annuals, including linebacker Dan Mason (Penn Hills), who was honored by both publications.
· Nine players who earned Associated Press All-State honors in Pennsylvania. Todd Thomas was named AP All-State each of the last three years at Beaver Falls -- and at three different positions (receiver, running back and defensive back).
· Five of the top 12 prospects in Pennsylvania according to Rivals.com, the most of any school.
· Five players from New Jersey high schools, the Panthers' most signees from the Garden State since the mid-1980s. The group is led by PrepStar All-America all-purpose back Ray Graham (Elizabeth).
Among the Panthers' 20 signees is running back Dion Lewis (Albany, N.Y./Blair Academy [N.J.]), who enrolled at Pitt in January and will participate in spring drills.
2009 Pitt Football Recruits
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/High School/Prep School
Kevin Adams DB 6-1 205 Central Nyack, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional (N.J.)
Brock DeCicco TE 6-5 235 Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson
Fernando Diaz OL 6-2 275 Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Hayes
Jason Douglas RB 5-7 170 Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay
Tyrone Ezell DL 6-4 270 Munhall, Pa./Steel Valley
Carl Fleming LB 6-1 210 Reisterstown, Md./Franklin Senior
Shane Gordon LB 6-1 225 Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay
Ray Graham RB 5-9 185 Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth
Kolby Gray QB 6-2 185 Houston, Texas/Cypress Falls
Jason Hendricks DB 6-0 190 Brooklyn, N.Y./Hudson Catholic (N.J.)
Juantez Hollins OL 6-5 270 Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa
Cory King OL 6-6 315 Stoneboro, Pa./Lakeview
Dion Lewis* RB 5-8 190 Albany, N.Y./Blair Academy (N.J.)
Jack Lippert DL 6-4 250 Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin
Dan Mason LB 6-0 225 Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills
Bernardo Nunez DL 6-2 235 Hoboken, N.J./Hoboken
Ryan Schlieper OL 6-5 280 Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny
Devin Street WR 6-3 180 Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty
Todd Thomas WR 6-2 205 Beaver Falls, Pa./Beaver Falls
Ed Tinker WR 6-2 200 Pittsburgh, Pa./Brashear/North Carolina Tech
*enrolled January '09
2009 Pitt Recruiting Class Breakdown
Running Backs -- 3 (Jason Douglas, Ray Graham, Dion Lewis)
Quarterbacks -- 1 (Kolby Gray)
Tight Ends -- 1 (Brock DeCicco)
Florida -- 2 (RB Jason Douglas, LB Shane Gordon)
New York -- 1 (OL Fernando Diaz)
Maryland -- 1 (LB Carl Fleming)
Texas -- 1 (QB Kolby Gray)
Kevin Adams, DB, 6-1, 205, Central Nyack, N.Y., St. Joseph Regional (N.J.)
Two-way standout for New Jersey power St. Joseph Regional as an outside linebacker and running back...All-Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League (NNJIL)...collected 51 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions as a senior...led team with nine rushing touchdowns and scored 12 total TDs (three receiving), helping St. Joseph average more than 40 points per game...totaled 1,170 rushing yards over his junior and senior seasons...averaged more than seven yards per carry as a senior and six yards per attempt his junior year...led team to an 11-1 record and the Non-Public Group 3 state championship as a senior...team went 9-2 and advanced to the state title game his junior year...PrepStar All-East Region...rated one of the top 30 prospects in New Jersey by Rivals...played under Coach Tony Karcich.
Brock DeCicco, TE, 6-5, 235, Jefferson Hills, Pa., Thomas Jefferson
Considered one of the country's top tight end prospects...joins Pitt's growing pipeline from perennial state power Thomas Jefferson...SuperPrep and Tom Lemming All-American...rated the country's No. 7 tight end by Scout, No. 10 by SuperPrep and No. 14 by Rivals...named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAA All-State Team (first team)...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22"...Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25"... Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic...finalist for the Pittsburgh Athletic Association's Mercury Award, annually presented to the region's top high school football player...helped lead Thomas Jefferson to a three-year mark of 45-2 (.957), back-to-back PIAA Class AAA championships and three consecutive WPIAL titles...as a senior DeCicco had 24 catches for 542 yards (22.6 avg.) and 11 touchdowns...as a rush defensive end, had five sacks, seven batted passes and two interceptions...over his final two seasons he compiled 43 receptions for 935 yards (21.7 avg.) and 17 TDs...PrepStar All-East Region...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...rated the No. 10 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by SuperPrep and No. 12 by Rivals...played under Coach Bill Cherpak, who was a standout offensive lineman for Pitt from 1985-89...Brock joins his brother Dom, a junior safety at Pitt and former T.J. star...the Panthers also have another brother tandem from Thomas Jefferson, junior linebacker Nate Nix and sophomore offensive lineman Lucas Nix.
Fernando Diaz, OL, 6-2, 275, Bronx, N.Y., Cardinal Hayes
Powerful offensive lineman considered one of the top 10 prospects in the state of New York...won the heavyweight title at the 2008 AthElite National High School Strongman Championship, where among other tasks he pushed an SUV 50 yards in 18 seconds...three-year starter at offensive tackle for Cardinal Hayes, the same high school that produced Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Willie Colon...All-Catholic High School Football League (CHSFL)...first team All-New York City...FiveBoroSports.com first team All-Bronx/Manhattan...rated the No. 8 prospect in the state of New York by Rivals and No. 10 by SuperPrep...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...PrepStar All-East Region...played under Coach C.J. O'Neil.
Jason Douglas, RB, 5-7, 170, Weston, Fla., Cypress Bay
Speedy all-purpose back who played for one of Florida's top 6A (largest classification) programs...rushed for 1,048 yards on 181 carries (5.79 avg.) as a senior at Cypress Bay...scored 15 total TDs, including 13 rushing...averaged an impressive 30.5 yards per kickoff return (15 returns for 458 yards) and had a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown...All-Broward County...helped Cypress Bay to a combined 20-4 mark (.833) over his final two seasons, including back-to-back 6A District 11 championships...selected to play in the Dade vs. Broward All-Star Game...rated one of the country's top 50 all-purpose players by Rivals...joins linebacker Shane Gordon as one of two Cypress Bay players to sign with Pitt this year...sophomore defensive back Buddy Jackson is another Cypress Bay product at Pitt...played under Coach Mark Guandolo.
Tyrone Ezell, DL, 6-4, 270, Munhall, Pa., Steel Valley
Tom Lemming and SuperPrep All-America defensive lineman...Lemming called Ezell "the No. 1 DL prospect in the state of Pennsylvania"...named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AA All-State Team (first team)...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22"...Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25"... Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...first team All-Century Conference...three-year starter who led Steel Valley to two WPIAL Class AA playoff berths...starter at both defensive tackle and offensive guard his final two seasons...rated the No. 10 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 12 by SuperPrep...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...PrepStar All-East Region...rated one of the country's top 40 defensive tackle prospects by Rivals...rated the nation's No. 21 defensive end prospect by Scout...played under Coach Ray Braszo.
Carl Fleming, LB, 6-1, 210, Reisterstown, Md., Franklin Senior
One of the top prospects in the Baltimore/District of Columbia area...two-way standout who rushed for nearly 2,400 yards and picked off nine passes his final two years at Franklin Senior...played diverse roles on offense...in addition to being a workhorse at running back, also played receiver and quarterback...was a cornerback and safety on defense...rushed for 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior...also collected 74 tackles and three interceptions...as a junior, rushed for 1,099 yards and 15 touchdowns, while compiling 50 tackles and six interceptions...two-way selection (running back and linebacker) on Baltimore County Coaches' All-County Team...Baltimore Sun All-Metro...named the Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year for the state of Maryland...SuperPrep All-Mid Atlantic Team...first player in Franklin history to sign with a Division I-A (Football Bowl Subdivision) school...played under Coach Anthony Burgos...selected to play in the Maryland Crab Bowl All-Star Game (Baltimore vs. D.C.).
Shane Gordon, LB, 6-1, 225, Weston, Fla., Cypress Bay
All-Florida 6A (largest classification) linebacker who compiled 150 tackles and 15 sacks over his final two seasons at Cypress Bay...had 87 tackles, nine tackles for loss, six sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior...averaged 7.7 yards per carry as a fullback, netting 146 yards with two touchdowns on 19 carries...All-Broward County...selected to play in the Dade vs. Broward All-Star Game...helped Cypress Bay to a combined 20-4 mark (.833) over his final two seasons, including back-to-back 6A District 11 championships...SuperPrep All-Dixie Team...rated one of the top 105 players in Florida by SuperPrep...PrepStar All-Southeast Region...a four-year varsity starter, including his junior and senior seasons at Cypress Bay...started as a freshman and sophomore at Chaminade-Madonna High...joins running back Jason Douglas as one of two Cypress Bay players to sign with Pitt this year...sophomore defensive back Buddy Jackson is another Cypress Bay product at Pitt...played under Coach Mark Guandolo.
Ray Graham, RB, 5-9, 185, Elizabeth, N.J., Elizabeth
Big-play all-purpose back who earned PrepStar All-America honors...rated one of the top five prospects in New Jersey and the country's No. 11 all-purpose back by Rivals...first team All-New Jersey Group 4...first team All-Union County...Union County Player of the Year...New Jersey Top 100...rushed for 1,592 yards and averaged nine yards per carry at Elizabeth...scored 24 touchdowns to lead Union County with 144 points...13 of his TDs came on plays of 40 yards or longer, while eight came on plays of 60 yards or more...sat out the entire fourth quarter in six of Elizabeth's 10 games...saw limited time as a junior due to a preseason collarbone injury but returned late in the year and rushed for 750 yards and scored 12 touchdowns in Elizabeth's final four games...rushed for 1,290 yards and 13 TDs as a sophomore...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...rated the No. 14 prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep...played under Coach Chet Parlavechio.
Kolby Gray, QB, 6-2, 185, Houston, Texas, Cypress Falls
Texas dual-threat quarterback who threw for nearly 5,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,300 over his final two seasons at Cypress Falls...was a 1,000-yard passer and rusher his senior season...threw for 1,492 yards while completing 57% of his passes (122 of 214)...rushed for 1,006, averaging 5.6 per carry...accounted for 22 total touchdowns (13 rushing and nine passing)...as a junior Gray threw for 3,350 yards with 32 TDs and only five interceptions...completed 59.7% of his passes as a junior (190 of 318) and rushed for 300 yards and four TDs on 75 carries (4.0 avg.)...All-District 15-5A...Touchdown Club of Houston Offensive Player of the Year finalist...5A Texas Football All-State (third team)...led team to a 9-3 record and 6-1 mark in District 15-5A play his junior year, helping Cypress Falls advance to the second round of the 5A Region III playoffs...rated the country's No. 28 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals...played under Coach David Raffield.
Jason Hendricks, DB, 6-0, 190, Brooklyn, N.Y., Hudson Catholic (N.J.)
Highly productive prospect on both sides of the ball...compiled 1,790 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior running back...at outside linebacker Hendricks collected 110 tackles...second-leading scorer in the state...All-New Jersey Non-Public...Hudson County Football Coaches Association Player of the Year and Offensive Back of the Year...The Star Ledger Hudson County Player of the Year...Hudson Reporter All-Area and Area Most Valuable Player...All-American Conference...led Hudson Catholic to the Non-Public Group II championship final and four playoff berths overall during his varsity career...played under Coach Rob Stern.
Juantez Hollins, OL, 6-5, 270, Aliquippa, Pa., Aliquippa
Four-year starter at offensive tackle for perennial power Aliquippa...named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AA All-State Team (first team)...Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25"... Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...first team All-Midwestern Conference...the Quips produced a 1,000-yard rusher each of Hollins' four seasons as a starting offensive lineman...also started at defensive tackle as a senior and compiled 71 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and an interception...led team to a 12-3 record his final year, including the WPIAL Class AA championship and berth in the semifinals of the PIAA playoffs...Aliquippa went 42-7 (.857) during his varsity career, including WPIAL playoff berths each season...PrepStar All-East Region...rated Pennsylvania's No 23 overall prospect by Rivals...Hollins is the latest in a long line of Aliquippa products to sign with Pitt, joining two current Panthers in receiver Jonathan Baldwin and linebacker Brandon Lindsey...other notable Quips to play at Pitt include NFL first-rounders in end Mike Ditka (1958-60), defensive lineman Sean Gilbert (1989-91) and defensive back Darrelle Revis (2004-06)...played under Coach Mike Zmijanac.
Cory King, OL, 6-6, 315, Stoneboro, Pa., Lakeview
Four-year starter on the offensive line, playing tackle and guard for Lakeview...also a three-year starter at defensive tackle....first team All-Region 1 on both sides of the ball...Erie Times-News All-District 10 Team...Pennsylvania Football News All-Class A (third team)...PrepStar All-East Region...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...rated the No. 26 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 33 by SuperPrep...rated one of the nation's top 40 offensive tackle prospects by Scout...played under Coach Dan York.
Dion Lewis, RB, 5-8, 190, Albany, N.Y., Blair Academy (N.J.)
A December graduate who enrolled at Pitt in January...will participate in spring drills...rated one of the country's top 20 all-purpose backs by Rivals...New Jersey Prep Offensive Player of the Year...Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) Offensive Player of the Year...first team All-New Jersey Prep and All-MAPL...averaged an astounding 14.1 yards per carry his senior season at Blair Academy, rushing for 1,243 yards on 88 carries...eclipsed the 250-yard rushing mark four times as a senior...scored 26 total touchdowns, including 23 rushing, two on punt returns and one receiving...averaged 12.4 yards per carry as a junior, rushing for 979 yards on 79 carries with 14 TDs...led team to a 17-1 record (.944) his final two seasons, including two MAPL championships and a New Jersey Prep state title...PrepStar All-East Region...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...rated the No. 14 prospect in New Jersey by Rivals and No. 18 by SuperPrep...played under Coach Jim Stone.
Jack Lippert, DL, 6-4, 250, Harrisburg, Pa., Central Dauphin
Tom Lemming and PrepStar All-America defensive lineman who excelled as a pass rusher at Central Dauphin...rated the country's No. 9 weakside defensive end prospect by Rivals...named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA All-State Team (second team)...first-team All-Mid-Penn Commonwealth selection as both an offensive and defensive lineman...led Mid-Penn Commonwealth with 11 sacks...also blocked three kicks as a senior...over his junior and senior seasons, Lippert compiled 110 total tackles and 19 sacks...three-year starter on both sides of the ball, playing defensive end, tight end and, as a senior, offensive guard and tackle...led team to a three-year mark of 24-11 (.686) and three berths in the District 3-AAAA playoffs...played under Coach Glen McNamee...rated the No. 7 player in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 29 by SuperPrep...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...selected to play in the 2008 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, a national all-star game in Myrtle Beach, S.C....also selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic.
Dan Mason, LB, 6-0, 225, Penn Hills, Pa., Penn Hills
SuperPrep and PrepStar All-American who compiled more than 200 tackles over his junior and senior seasons at Penn Hills...rated the country's No. 8 middle linebacker prospect by Scout...named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA All-State Team (first team)...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22"...Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25"... Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...as a senior Mason had over 100 tackles with 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery...three-year starter who led Penn Hills to a combined 24-11 (.686) mark and three trips to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, including a title game berth as a sophomore...in addition to linebacker, was also a tough blocker as a starting fullback...linebacker MVP at the State College NIKE Camp...rated one of the country's top 20 linebacker prospects by Rivals and SuperPrep...rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by SuperPrep and No. 8 by Rivals...played under Coach Ron Graham...selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic.
Bernardo Nunez, DL, 6-2, 235, Hoboken, N.J., Hoboken
Enjoyed a decorated career as a four-year starter on the defensive line for Hoboken...All-New Jersey Group I and The Star Ledger first team All-New Jersey...first team Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association Coaches Team...Hudson County Defensive Player of the Year...three-time Jersey Journal All-County Team selection...had 127 tackles, 10 sacks, five fumble recoveries and two tackles for safeties as a senior...over his final two years Nunez collected 236 tackles and 20 sacks...Hoboken went 35-10 (.778) during his varsity career and advanced to the playoffs each of his four seasons...his senior year, led team to the North Jersey Section 2, Group I title game in Giants Stadium and an 8-4 overall record...rated the No. 15 overall prospect in New Jersey by SuperPrep and No. 19 by Rivals...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...PrepStar All-East Region...played under Coach Lou Taglieri.
Ryan Schlieper, OL, 6-5, 280, Wexford, Pa., North Allegheny
Named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA All-State Team (first team)...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22"...Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...played both left and right offensive tackle as a senior...led North Allegheny to a combined 17-6 mark (.739) his final two seasons, including consecutive trips to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs...team went 11-1 his junior year, capturing the Northern Six conference title and advancing to the WPIAL semifinals...rated the No. 28 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and SuperPrep...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...PrepStar All-East Region...Ryan's father, Rich Schlieper, was a Major League Baseball pitcher...played under Coach Art Walker Jr.
Devin Street, WR, 6-3, 180, Bethlehem, Pa., Liberty
One of Pennsylvania's top receiver prospects...compiled 49 receptions for 822 yards (16.8 avg.) and eight touchdowns as a senior, the second most prolific receiving season in Liberty history...had two interceptions as a starting cornerback...named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA All-State Team (second team)...The Morning Call All-Area (first team)...led Liberty to a 15-1 record and the PIAA Class AAAA championship...had a key TD in the team's 28-21 overtime victory in the title game vs. Bethel Park...rated the No. 22 prospect in Pennsylvania by SuperPrep and No. 35 by Rivals...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...PrepStar All-East Region...played under Coach Tim Moncman...selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic.
Todd Thomas, WR, 6-2, 205, Beaver Falls, Pa., Beaver Falls
Multi-faceted talent at Beaver Falls who is rated one of the country's top 100 prospects by Tom Lemming (No. 68)...Tom Lemming and PrepStar All-American...earned praise for his play at running back, wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker...three-year Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AA All-State Team honoree at three different positions...his senior year Thomas earned first team all-state as a receiver...was a second-team all-state running back his junior year and a first-team all-state defensive back as a sophomore...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22"...Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25"...Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...three-time "Top 22" selection on both offense and defense by the coaches in the Midwestern Athletic Conference...compiled 2,786 rushing yards on 366 carries (7.6 avg.) and scored 53 total touchdowns for his career...rushed for 865 yards on 121 carries (7.1 avg.) and caught 21 passes for 557 yards (26.5 avg.) as a senior...led his team to a 12-1 record his final year, including a berth in the WPIAL Class AA title game...rated the No. 6 prospect in Pennsylvania by Rivals and No. 18 by SuperPrep...SuperPrep All-Northeast Team...played under Coach Ryan Matsook...also a four-year starter in basketball and career 1,000-point scorer...twice earned Associated Press All-State honors in basketball.
Ed Tinker, WR, 6-2, 200, Pittsburgh, Pa., Brashear, North Carolina Tech
Standout receiver-defensive back who was the Pittsburgh City League's top college prospect in 2007-08 at Brashear High...spent subsequent year at North Carolina Tech and will join Pitt with freshman eligibility for the 2009 season...facing largely collegiate competition at North Carolina Tech, averaged an incredible 29.2 yards per catch...had 21 receptions for 613 yards and six touchdowns in helping the Tigers to a 12-1 mark...played under NC Tech coach Tim Newman...as a senior at Brashear had 26 receptions for 443 yards (17.0 avg.) and seven TDs...returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game against Langley (40 and 54 yards)...was named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA All-State Team (second team)...led Brashear to a 12-1 record, the City League title and the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs his senior year...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22"... Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...played under Brashear coach Ron Wabby.
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