Pitt recruiting 2013: Panthers' small class boasts strength on offensive line

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Paul Chryst continues to build Pitt's recruiting base in his second year as head coach.

In their second season under head coach Paul Chryst, the Pittsburgh Panthers have more to accomplish on the recruiting trail. According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Pitt's 2014 class ranks 43rd in the nation and just 10th in the ACC, ahead of only Duke, Syracuse, Maryland and Wake Forest.

The Panthers have 17 commits for 2014 thus far, all three-stars or lower. One of the most enticing recruits is three-star athlete Elijah Zeise (Wexford, Pa.), who committed July 3. Zeise is a 6'2, 185-pound receiver who 247's composite rankings consider the nation's No. 81 player at his position, as well as the No. 29 player from Pennsylvania in the 2014 class. Zeise chose Pitt over Old Dominion, Temple and West Virginia.

247's rating scale pegs Zeise as an 89, tied with guard Connor Dintino (Wallingford, Conn.) as the highest in Pitt's 2014 class. Dintino is a 6'4, 280-pound prospect who 247's composite rankings have as the nation's No. 49 guard and the No. 4 Connecticut '14 prospect. Dintino committed June 20, chosing Pitt over offers from Buffalo and Connecticut.

Two other offensive line prospects also find themselves atop Pitt's '14 class. Three-star Michael Grimm (Bethel Park, Pa.) is a 6'7, 315-pound tackle who received more than a dozen other offers from schools like Arizona, Baylor, Illinois, Rutgers, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Per 247's composite rankings, Grimm is the No. 35 tackle in the country and the No. 11 player out of Pennsylvania for 2014.

Three-star Traverse City, Mich., tackle Connor Hayes is the other top lineman committed to Pitt. Hayes is a 6'4, 300-pound prospect who also received offers from Central Michigan, Duke, Indiana, Syracuse and Western Michigan. 247's composite rankings peg Hayes as the nation's No. 64 tackle and No. 13 player out of Michigan for 2014.

On target

Pitt has several top targets on which it is working.

Dravon Henry, of Aliquippa (PA) High School, is an excellent four-star defensive back, who is also considering West Virginia and Penn State.

Juwann Winfree, of Englewood (NJ) Dwight Morrow High School, if a four-star athlete over whom Pitt will fight Maryland.

Alex Bookser, of Pittsburgh (PA) Mt. Lebanon High School, is an excellent four-star offensive tackle who also has interest from Ohio State.

Shai Mckenzie, of Washington (PA) High School, is a big, four-star back who is also considering Virginia Tech and perhaps Florida State. Unfortunately, McKenzie recently tore his ACL.

Montae Nicholson, of Monroeville (PA) Gateway High School, is a four-star athlete capable of playing corner, safety and receiver. Pitt will battle Penn State for his services.

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