Comeback kid: Upper St. Clair recruit commits to Pitt
July 26, 2013 8:00 PM
Upper St. Clair's Rori Blair is headed to Pitt; a year ago he nearly died.
By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Rori Blair's comeback story will continue this football season at Upper St. Clair High School -- and next year at Pitt.
Blair, a senior, made a verbal commitment to Pitt Friday after he and his family met with coach Paul Chryst.
Blair is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound tight end/defensive end who nearly died of complications from a stroke a year ago.
Now he is fully healthy and has a Division I scholarship to his hometown school. West Virginia and Kent State also offered Blair a scholarship.
"Pitt did a great job recruiting him," said Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render. "They've checked on his medical records, watched him at their camp this summer and didn't hesitate to recruit him."
Pitt offered Blair a scholarship a few months ago. In April 2012, Blair suffered a stroke. A few days later, he had to be resuscitated with paddles and chest compressions at a hospital after he flatlined from stroke complications. Blair had trouble talking and walking after the stroke, lost 50 pounds, spent a month in a hospital and another month in a rehabilitation center.
Blair showed plenty of promise as a junior in the 2011 football season, but the stroke forced him to miss his senior season. He gained back his weight and this spring, doctors cleared him to play again, saying there was no danger for him to return to the field.
Upper St. Clair then appealed to the WPIAL for another year of eligibility for Blair. Under WPIAL and PIAA rules, a student-athlete can be granted extra eligibility because of illness or injury as long as the student-athlete is still age-eligible, missed more than 45 days of school in a semester or 60 in a year because of the injury and didn't participate in more than 25 percent of regular-season contests in a sport.
Blair fit the criteria, and the WPIAL granted him an extra year.
Pitt, West Virginia and Kent State then offered scholarships based on Blair's junior season.
"I expect him to have a great year this season," Render said. "It was an unfortunate situation what happened to him. I think it made everyone grow up a little. I learned a lot and I think he has learned a lot."
Blair was recruited as a defensive end.
"He has got size, arm leverage and length that colleges like to see," Render said.
"He's got some things we can't teach as coaches. Now we just want to put him in situations where he can excel."