PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Perhaps the only certainty in Paul Chryst’s offense right now is the leadership of Devin Street, but on Wednesday he shored up his receiving corps beyond Street’s final collegiate season.
North Allegheny wide receiver/safety Elijah Zeise, who is entering his senior year, verbally committed to Pitt after spending several months holding court with Arizona, Temple, and West Virginia, among others. After he visited with offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, the Panthers gave Zeise the first of those four offers last August.
Pitt enters its inaugural ACC campaign with an offense unproven, and, on some level, decidedly younger. It’ll be up to Street to set an example for true freshman Tyler Boyd, fellow underclassmen Ron Jones and J.P. Holtz, and others. Any depth at receiver, right now, is good depth, and Zeise should eventually provide that for the Panthers.
In 2012 he was one of three Tigers to crack the WPIAL Class AAAA top 15 in receiving yards en route to a second PIAA championship in three years. Zeise racked up 677 on 23 catches, recording four offensive touchdowns, and heating up on both sides of the ball in the playoffs. He earned a touchdown run in the WPIAL Quarterfinals against Bethel Park and a pick-six against Erie McDowell in the PIAA Quarterfinals.
Zeise (6’2″, 185 lbs.) already has a good physique and good breakaway speed. With WPIAL receiving yardage leader Gregg Garrity gone, he should get more targets this fall, and therefore, more opportunities to continue improving his hands, depending upon what direction Art Walker takes his offense after much roster turnover. Knowing his family personally (his father, Paul, hosts a weekend show on The Fan and writes for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), he’ll undoubtedly come to Oakland grounded and ready to work.
Not to steal the old man’s thunder, but the bigger news in the past 36 hours has been the very unexpected commitment made by shooting guard Detrick Mostella (La Lumiere School/La Porte, Ind.) to Pitt men’s basketball. He was pursued by major programs all over the map before signing with and ultimately de-committing from Oklahoma State.
Coming off a season in which Pitt regained credibility in the gym, but once again lost in uninspiring fashion, the popularity of Jamie Dixon, even despite a nice new contract extension, has been shrinking at the same rate as the Panthers’ window of opportunity. This could be a watershed moment for Dixon’s program, and for Mostella individually–with emphasis on the phrase “could be.”
I’m not hitching any stars–not even the four he got from MaxPreps on their Class of ’13 Honor Roll–to his wagon yet. That’s not cynicism. That’s guarded optimism, and anyone who closely followed the saga of Steven Adams’ lone collegiate season should have a healthy dose of it.
Surely Dixon can boast about getting Adams, his own discovery, to the NBA as the school’s first first-round draftee since Vonteego Cummings (DeJuan Blair should have gone earlier, if you ask me, but I digress). However, Adams was never, at least not on a consistent basis, the impact player fans hoped for. As the hands-on Dixon is wont to do, he shortened the leash tactically on a young player with a high ceiling, so Adams enters The Association looking downright raw.
But let’s just toss that wet blanket into the dryer for a second here. The fact of the matter is, Dixon promised Pitt would overcome recent personnel setbacks, and this latest get goes a significant way toward vindicating him.
Mostella (6’3″, 170 lbs.) was ranked the No. 45 overall prospect in America by 247Sports, and No. 13 among shooting guards. Aside from the above video, which has picked up a few more hits since the news was broken, one of his other claims to fame was earning MVP honors in last year’s State Farm Tournament of Champions, an annual high school exhibition in Peoria, Ill. that once attracted NBA newcomers Anthony Bennett, Nerlens Noel, and Reggie Bullock.
You can put James Robinson in ink as Pitt’s starting point guard in 2013-14, but that 2-spot is up for grabs. If neither redshirt junior Cam Wright nor true freshman Josh Newkirk get those minutes, the ever-evolving Robinson and a reputed sharpshooter like Mostella could be a great combo–if Dixon breaks habit and allows it to be.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)