Recruiting gurus may be familiar with this interesting story, but I was not. But apparently, not only did Larry Fitzgerald strongly consider attending Penn State, but he was almost a linebacker.
Fitz recalled the story this week for an Arizona newspaper.
The star wide receiver was so intrigued with Penn State as Linebacker U, he almost became a part of the tradition:
More than 10 years ago, this attitude led to a life-changing decision. He said no to Joe Paterno, who wanted Fitzgerald to play linebacker, to be part of a great Penn State tradition.
"I played linebacker all the way up to my senior year in high school," Fitzgerald said. "I was heavily recruited as a defensive player. I had about 25 to 30 offers coming out, and probably 70 percent of them were defensive offers. I grew up watching Penn State, and was really enamored by the defense at Linebacker U."
Except Fitzgerald was chasing something else, and he did something rare. Like Tony Dorsett, he chose the University of Pittsburgh instead, where Fitzgerald would be the team's star wide receiver, catching 34 touchdown passes in two seasons before jumping all the way to the NFL.
Pretty incredible to think that Fitzgerald could have not only wound up in Happy Valley playing for Joe Paterno, but also playing on the other side of the ball. He's such a great athlete, I'm sure he could have been successful in that role, but it's safe to say he made the right choice.
And a fairly big kudos is in order for maligned coach, Walt Harris (or whoever was the main recruiter of Fitz), who was one of the few to offer him a scholarship as a receiver. I'm not the biggest fan of Walt's, but he turned Pitt around to a respectable program and had the vision to see Fitzgerald as a receiver instead of a linebacker.