Pitt's Baldwin backs off draft declaration

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Pitt junior receiver Jon Baldwin told Chris Steuber of NFLDraftScout.com via text message yesterday that he was going to declare for the NFL draft but Baldwin and his family have since backed away from the statements.

Baldwin's father, Jeff Baldwin, told the Post-Gazette earlier today that his son was misquoted and hasn't declared himself eligible for the draft.

"There is no truth to that," Jeff Baldwin said today. "He was just misquoted, that's all, he was misquoted. He still has a bowl game to play, he still has a few weeks of practice and he hasn't decided what he is going to do. No decision has been made."

Then a little later, Jon Baldwin, issued the following statement through the university's sports media relation's office.

"Yesterday, I received a text message from a reporter at a time when I was very emotional," Baldwin said in the statement. "Because of everything that happened, I wasn't using the best judgment and am very sorry about the things that were printed. I love my teammates and coaches at Pitt. I have not made a final decision on the NFL Draft. My only focus is on my commitment to my team and preparing to win our bowl game next month."

It would not be a surprise if Baldwin does declare early for the NFL draft because he has made it fairly clear to some of his teammates and others around the program that he was going to forgo his senior season and head to the NFL.

However, the exchange of text messages between Baldwin and Steuber apparently took place in the aftermath of the news that Dave Wannstedt was out as Pitt's head coach and Baldwin took some shots at both quarterback Tino Sunseri and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti on his way out the door.

Here is what Steuber wrote about the exchange he had with Baldwin:

"Reached through text message Tuesday evening and asked if it was safe to say he would forego his senior year with Wannstedt stepping down, Baldwin responded, "No, it's not safe to say that. It doesn't change my quarterback!"

At first, it sounded as if Baldwin was non-committal on his future, but when asked, "Why would you stay [for your senior season] when you have no chemistry with QB Tino Sunseri, a new coach/system taking over next season and possibly hurt your draft stock for the 2012 draft, Baldwin clarified, "Oh, I misunderstood you ... Heck yeah I'm leaving. It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes [this year] and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock."

Baldwin, who is 6-feet-5, 230 pounds, is the No. 6 rated receiver according to NFLDraftScout.com.

He was not immediately available for comment and a spokesman for Pitt said he is not likely going to be made available to comment today.

Baldwin is one of several Pitt players who went high tech to express their feelings about Wannstedt's ouster as several players used Twitter and Facebook to express their disappointment.

Senior offensive lineman Jason Pinkston sent this Twitter message out shortly after he heard the news that Wannstedt was gone and it captured the general sentiment of just about all of the players who went the social networking site route to voice their frustrations.

Pinkston wrote, "These people don't know they made the biggest mistake ever letting OUR coach go. He's more than just a coach, he's a father to 96 kids on the team. We came from many different backgrounds. Some of us wouldn't be in college or have the chance to experience college football. We have players on our team who have been turned down at other D1 schools and he took them in and made them family. Thank you coach for everything. You've done so much for me and my family. I would never of had this chance if it weren't for you. I know my mother greatly appreciates what you have done for us. He didn't deserve this from a guy who only came and switched us from ADIDAS to NIKE. Thank you, God bless, hail to Pitt and coach "Wann" and his family."


Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720


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