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Insider

Pitt's future hangs in the balance Saturday

11/16/2012

Paul Chryst's tenure at Pittsburgh will be defined this weekend. Hyperbole? Probably. But that isn't to say Nov. 17 could be looked back on as the date the Pitt program was turned around.

The top two players in Pennsylvania -- Dorian Johnson and Robert Foster -- will both take their official visits to Pitt this weekend. Clairton (Pa.) athlete Tyler Boyd, No. 7 in Pennsylvania, is also officially visiting.

All are four-star prospects and among the best players in the country, let alone the Keystone State. Johnson is No. 22 in the ESPN 150 and Foster is right behind at No. 28. Boyd sits just outside the ESPN 150 at No. 161.

As it stands, Pitt does not have a single four-star prospect committed in its 2013 class, so the need to land true difference makers is obvious. Johnson is a bookend tackle and No. 2 nationally and few in the country are better with the ball in their hands than Boyd and Foster.

The necessity of landing at least two of those three -- not this weekend but by signing day -- doesn't just stem from wanting the glam of a top 25 class ranking, though. All three are within a 45-minute drive of Pittsburgh, and if Chryst is going to turn Pitt into a contender in the ACC, he will have to keep the few elite talents in Western Pennsylvania home every year. As it stands, Pitt's top prospect from Western Pennsylvania is Scott Orndoff, who is No. 18 in the state and flipped his commitment to Pitt after Chryst and several assistants left Wisconsin.

Five ACC programs are in the top 25 of the team rankings, and those schools -- Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech -- all have deeper and richer recruiting grounds nearby.

The recent rise of Pitt on Boyd's list and Johnson naming Pitt his leader has the Panthers faithful buzzing, but it was just this summer Pitt fans were not to thrilled with Chryst as a recruiter. He closed out the 2012 class strong, but it was put together by former coach Todd Graham.

So while this coming weekend won't define Chryst's career at Pitt, if Pitt becomes a contender in the ACC, it likely will need Boyd, Foster and Johnson to do so.