- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here are some news and notes from each Big East team, based on comments from signing day news conferences today.
The Bearcats signed 16 defensive players and 14 offensive players, and hit areas of need at linebacker and the secondary. This is also shaping up to be the best class in school history.
“The class lends itself to filling many needs within our program,” coach Butch Jones said. “We wanted to put an emphasis on team speed in general while addressing needs at defensive back and linebacker. We feel like we attracted a very high caliber of student-athlete in this class, which will continue to allow us to build a championship culture both on the field and in the classroom.”
The Huskies might not have the highest-profile class in the Big East, but they were able to fill several need areas. Coach Paul Pasqualoni said he was pleased with the class, but he would have been happy with another interior lineman and defensive back.
Two players committed but didn't sign — one flipped to Memphis and the other — receiver Neally Cunningham is expected to go to junior college.
The Cardinals were able to bring in another outstanding class, and this one was led by the linebackers -- three of them are four-star players in James Burgess Jr., Keith Brown and Nick Dawson to specifically address a major need area. Working the state of Florida was huge, too. Ten total players, including transfers, hail from the state.
"We have to continue to move this program forward," coach Charlie Strong said. "You have to have a plan, you have to have a vision. The only way to win championships is bringing in great people."
New coach Paul Chryst was also able to keep a strong recruiting class together, and did a great job once again in Western Pennsylvania, a key area for Pitt every year in recruiting.
"There's a group of guys, Pitt was the place for them," Chryst said. "They wanted to be here. They've got a unique bond because of sticking together and going through what they went through."
If there is one area Rutgers wants to dominate during recruiting it is the tri-state area, or the "state of Rutgers." Of the 20-player class, 19 are from the area. ESPNU150 defensive end Darius Hamilton was the big jewel of the class.
"It is the second year in a row now that the top player in the state of New Jersey has committed to Rutgers," coach Kyle Flood said. "But they are not the only great players that committed to Rutgers over the past two years, or the last three or five years. But every year we’ve been able to more and more build that wall around the 'State of Rutgers,' so that the players in our area are coming to play for us the top players. And when a guy like Darius Hamilton does that on TV, what it does is it gives more validity to what we tell the people in this local area."
Cornerback Chris Bivins has a chance to make an immediate impact, coach Skip Holtz said. Though the Bulls hit many of their needs in the secondary and on the offensive line, they did not sign a quarterback. That becomes a priority for the 2013 class.
"We would have liked to have a quarterback," Holtz said. "When you looked at some of the quarterbacks that were available, we were behind, and I did not want to take one just to take one. At that point, I said I'd rather hold onto it. I feel very comfortable with our quarterback situation right now."
Coach Doug Marrone was happy he was able to hit major needs on the defensive line. Though junior college defensive end Mark Garrick didn't sign as expected, Marrone listed Zian Jones and Markus Pierce-Brewster as two players who might be able to contribute immediately. He also said early enrollee Myles Davis, who came in as a linebacker, would start the spring at fullback.
He also mentioned kicker Ryan Norton as having a chance for an immediate impact as well because he is slated to handle kickoff duties.
Coach Dana Holgorsen confirmed what was long expected the Mountaineers are abandoning the 3-3-5 stack defense they ran under former defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and will run out of the 3-4 and 4-3. As for the offensive players that were signed, Holgorsen was high on receiver Deontay McManus.
“We’re fired up about getting him over here as soon as we can to teach him what to do and get him out there,” Holgorsen said. “Physically I can tell you right now he’s ready to play at the next level. We’ve got to get him here, teach him what to do and get his skills right to the point where he can get out there and compete at this level. We’re excited about Deontay and can’t wait to get him here.”