Rivals.com released its initial ranking of the top 250 recruits in the class of 2014 this week, and there were Pitt targets all over the list, including a quartet from the state of Pennsylvania and quite a few more with offers from Paul Chryst and his staff.
Chryst knows that recruiting starts at home, and the Keystone State is represented by four recruits in the early watch list. Not surprisingly, all four already have offers from Pitt.
The Panthers were the first BCS team to offer Gateway safety Montae Nicholson, who has since added offers from the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, West Virginia, Illinois and Michigan.
Another western Pa. safety on the Rivals250 list is Aliquippa's Dravon Henry. Given his high school's reputation as a Pitt pipeline and the Panthers' history of producing NFL talent from the Quips, Henry should be an early lean to hometown school. But a number of BCS schools have already offered, including Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, and West Virginia, and the Panthers will be in for a fight.
Likewise, Washington running back Shai McKenzie is also on the watch list and has been a lifelong Pitt fan. But as he has exploded in his junior season - 2,300 yards and counting - his offer sheet has also grown, and Pitt will have to battle to keep McKenzie at home.
The fourth Pennsylvania prospect on the Rivals250 list is Bethlehem Liberty receiver K.J. Williams. A product of the same high school that sent Devin Street and Anthony Gonzalez to Pitt, Williams caught 59 passes for 988 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Pitt was the second school to offer Williams, and despite growing interest from Big Ten and SEC schools, the Panthers seem to still be in good shape for the 6'2" 190-pound receiver.
Pitt also has offers out to a number of juniors in the state of New Jersey, and several of those recruits are four-star prospects in the Rivals250. That includes Manalapan receiver Saeed Blacknall, who told Panther-Lair.com he was pleasantly surprised when Pitt offered. Bergen Catholic tight end Garrett Dickerson is also on the list, and Pitt is one of a dozen schools to offer the 6'4" 240-pound prospect. And the Panthers have offered Kiy Hester, a 6'2" 200-pound safety prospect at St. Joseph's who has offers from the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Big East.
Two of Pitt's early offers in the state of Maryland also made the cut. DeMatha offensive tackle Brock Ruble recently added an offer from Pitt, while Gilman cornerback Troy Vincent picked up an offer when he visited the Panthers for their game against Virginia Tech.
Pitt has also offered several juniors from the Midwest who are on the Rivals250 list. Lancaster (Oh.) offensive tackle Kyle Trout picked up an offer from the Panthers a few weeks ago, while Sun Prairie (Wisc.) defensive tackle Craig Evans and Detroit (Mich.) linebacker Deon Drake also have offers from Pitt, although Evans is committed to Wisconsin and Drake is committed to Michigan State.
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