Bethel Park offensive lineman commits to Pitt

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Before Tuesday morning, Pitt had two verbal commitments for its 2014 recruiting class. While Panthers coach Paul Chryst probably wasn't panicking, the number wasn't exactly a cause for celebration.

About 48 hours later, though, the Panthers are sitting pretty with seven verbal pledges, including one from one of the WPIAL's most highly sought recruits.

Bethel Park High School offensive lineman Mike Grimm made the biggest splash when he verbally committed to Pitt Wednesday morning. Grimm joined Shady Side Academy running back Dennis Briggs, Marion (Ohio) quarterback Adam Bertke, Philadelphia West Catholic safety Patrick Amara and Detroit Martin Luther King Jr., cornerback Avonte Maddox as players who have announced plans over the past two days to enroll at Pitt in 2014.

"This feels great," Grimm said. "I'm really happy with my decision. I love the school, and that's why I'm committing."

Grimm is rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, making him the highest-rated recruit of Pitt's class so far. He chose the Panthers over Arizona, Baylor, Boston College, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, among others.

Grimm said he made his final decision when he attended a Pitt prospect camp Friday and "it just felt right."

"The right fit that college coaches talk about; that's just what I felt when I went down there," he said. "It really just made sense to me in my mind that that was my final decision."

Though not his primary recruiter, offensive line coach Jim Hueber played a major role.

"He's a great guy," Grimm said. "He has so much experience and is a great role model. That's definitely what sold me on it, was him."

It also didn't hurt that Pitt played its spring game this year at Bethel Park.

Grimm's commitment marks the third consecutive year the Panthers have landed an elite offensive line prospect from the WPIAL. Fox Chapel graduate Adam Bisnowaty likely will start for Pitt this year, and five-star Belle Vernon product Dorian Johnson will enroll this summer.

"Playing with those guys on the offensive line at the same school, it's just going to be a great experience and a lot of fun," Grimm said.

Grimm also could have a familiar WPIAL face lining up behind him in the future. Briggs might not be the most high-profile recruit in this class, but his high school coach Dave Havern was bullish on Briggs' future at the college level.

"[He doesn't have] the big rushing numbers over the years, but I always thought he was an offensive guy," Havern said. "His offensive instincts were great, and he has everything you want in a running back."

Amara is the second defensive player in the class, joining Newburgh (N.Y.) safety Jalen Williams. Amara is listed as a two-star athlete on Rivals, and likely will start his college career at safety.

Amara's high school coach, Brian Fluck, said Hueber, a Philadelphia native, and the coaching staff did a good job of making Amara feel comfortable at Pitt. Amara's former high school teammate, offensive lineman Jaryd Jones-Smith, will enroll at Pitt this summer.

At quarterback, Bertke provides the Panthers with an insurance plan. Their top target at the position remains Palo Alto (Calif.) passer Keller Chryst, Paul Chryst's nephew.

Maddox was the final player to make his pledge public and gives the Panthers even more depth in their defensive backfield.

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com or Twitter @SWernerPG.


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