Pitt's basketball team won on Wednesday, but the night was already off to a good start as local football recruit J.P. Holtz pledged his allegiance to the Panthers (here's the video ... unfortunately, Holtz does that awkward hat thing, which I've never been a fan of).
Holtz was a highly-recruited tight end/defensive end out of Shaler who had previously committed to Penn State. ESPN and Rivals rate him as a three-star recruit while Scout calls him a four-star. Scout also rates him as the No. 10 tight end in the nation and Rivals says he's the No. 24 overall recruit in Pennsylvania.
He was widely sought after by big time programs reportedly including Penn State, Michigan State, Arkansas, Michigan, and West Virginia, among others.
Now, while Holtz decommitted from Penn State, I'd like to hear his thoughts on Pitt right now. At the time, he was called a lifelong Penn State fan. Holtz also sounded pretty high on the Nittany Lions:
"I wanted to get [recruiting] over with before the season, and [playing for Penn State has] always been like a dream. When you’re from Pennsylvania, it’s a big thing," said Holtz, who has 14 Division I scholarship offers and picked the Nittany Lions over Purdue, Michigan State and Pitt. "It’s like the perfect place to go to, especially for football, and it’s a really good school, too. I’ll get a good education. I knew it was the right choice.
Obviously, the Jerry Sandusky stuff gave him reason to consider other options. Still, I think his apparent allegiance to Penn State isn't a huge concern. He reportedly had Pitt in his list of finalists and it sounds as if he considered becoming a Panther.
So why wasn't Pitt his first choice? Well, a little nugget from Mike White of the Post-Gazette makes it seem like he wasn't all that enamored with Todd Graham.
When asked about Graham:
Holtz's commitment to Pitt brought about a natural question. Would he have chosen the Panthers if Todd Graham was still coach?
"Ummm," Holtz said before pausing. "I'm not sure about that."
The hesitation in Holtz's voice said something about his thoughts about Pitt when Graham was coach.
Holtz is a big time player to be sure, as evidenced by his high school contributions on offense ... and defense.
On offense, he was a two-way player with had 15 touchdowns as a tight end and running back. But that's not the end of it - he's also played quarterback and was an All-Conference linebacker.