Pitt expected to land 18 recruits

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Todd Graham was introduced as Pitt's head football coach Jan. 12, which meant he and five new assistants had a little more than three weeks to assemble a recruiting class.

And today, national letter of intent day, that hard work is expected to produce 16 signees.

On Tuesday, highly rated linebacker Nicholas Grigsby (Trotwood-Madison, Trotwood, Ohio) made a verbal commitment. That means Pitt will have at least 18 incoming players -- already committed are defensive tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith, a former Woodland Hills standout who spent the fall at Milford Academy, and offensive tackle Zenel Demhasaj, a transfer from Nassau Community College.

Eight players committed to the Panthers over the weekend, and Grigsby became the ninth.

Grigsby (6 feet 1, 204 pounds), who is listed as a four-star prospect by recruiting services Scout.com and Rivals.com, chose the Panthers over a number of scholarship offers, including those from Michigan, Colorado, Kansas, Louisville, Missouri, Syracuse and Kentucky.

He is ranked as the 16th-best outside linebacker prospect in the country by Rivals, and the service ranks him as the 15th-best overall prospect in Ohio.

But the class is not complete, and coaches are hoping that six big-time players, most with local ties, also decide to sign with the Panthers. The class' overall ranking will depend on how many of these six players pick Pitt:

• Lafayette Pitts (CB, Woodland Hills, 5-11, 185) -- Pitts originally committed to Pitt, then changed his mind when Dave Wannstedt was fired and committed to Rutgers. However, Pitts' cousin and teammate, Javonte Pitts, committed to the Panthers over the weekend, and now Pitts and his family are again strongly considering the Panthers.

• Delvon Simmons (DT, McKeesport, 6-5, 265) -- One of the biggest names in Pennsylvania still uncommitted, Simmons has a number of big offers, and while Pitt is in the running it does not seem to be among his top two or three. He likely will choose between Oregon and Southern California.

• Ejuan Price (LB, Woodland Hills, 6-0, 235) -- He already committed to Ohio State, but the Panthers have made a late run at him and he is said to be reconsidering his choice. He is a teammate of the Pitts cousins and is a former teammate of Mosley-Smith.

• Branden Jackson (DE, McKeesport, 6-4, 220) -- Simmons' teammate and another player with plenty of offers. The Panthers seem to be in a battle with Texas Tech and Oregon for him.

• Desimon Green (DE, Clairton, 6-5, 230) -- Another player who originally committed to Pitt but decommitted because of the coaching change. Of the six, he seems most likely to end up with Pitt, but the Panthers are in contention with Texas Tech for him.

• Michael Eubank (QB, Centennial High, Corona, Calif., 6-5, 232) -- Eubank, a dual-threat quarterback, is already committed to Arizona State but visited Pitt this past weekend and is at least considering the school because of Graham's offensive system.

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720.


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