Fox Chapel coach Eric Ravotti knows a talented linebacker when he sees one.
He doesn't have to look far to watch one of the best in the WPIAL.
Quintin Wirginis' name likely wasn't known by many high school football fans just a few months ago, but that quickly changed when Wirginis verbally committed to Pitt on June 20.
Wirginis, who lives in Indiana Township, picked the Panthers over offers from Temple, Robert Morris, Slippery Rock and Virginia Military Institute. He is one of four WPIAL players from the senior class to select Pitt, joining Bethel Park's Mike Grimm, Shady Side Academy's Dennis Briggs and North Allegheny's Elijah Zeise.
Wirginis said that playing for his hometown team had long been a dream of his. He was high on Temple, but just a few days after Pitt offered him a scholarship, he decided the opportunity to become a Panther was too good to pass up.
"I liked everything [at Temple] and was really considering them," said Wirginis, the youngest of seven children. "But there was a big issue about them being too far away. I thought that if Pitt offered me, it would be a dream. I visited there. The campus was amazing. I loved their coaches and I loved their future. It couldn't be a better fit."
A former NFL linebacker whom Wirginis knows well agreed. Ravotti was a standout at Penn State and later played for the Steelers from 1994-96. Wirginis is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound outside linebacker in Fox Chapel's 3-4 defense, but the Pitt coaches have told him they project him as a middle linebacker in their 4-3 defense.
"His athleticism is very good. That's probably the biggest thing," said Ravotti, who is in his third season as Fox Chapel's head coach. "He also has a lot of control over his body. He can do a lot of things not many guys can."
A starter since the fourth game of his freshman season, Wirginis played strong safety his first two seasons, before moving to linebacker as a junior. The change had a lot to do with him simply getting bigger. Wirginis was 5-10, 180 his sophomore season, but grew to 6-1, 215 when his junior season began.
"[Ravotti] thought I'd benefit the team most at linebacker," Wirginis said.
The change paid off, with Wirginis flashing his all-around skills by leading the team in tackles, sacks and interceptions.
"And he was just learning his position," Ravotti said. "Not a lot of teams play a true 3-4 like we do. It's a different type of outside linebacker position. It takes some getting used to. Near the end of the season he was really getting the hang of it and was really playing well. He's embraced it and he's excited about this season."
Wirginis said he has learned a good bit from Ravotti, who also serves as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
"He's showed me a lot," said Wirginis. "When I made the move from safety to linebacker, he said, 'You're going to be a linebacker at the next level.' He's definitely helped me out a lot."
Also lending a hand has been former Fox Chapel star Adam Bisnowaty. A 2012 graduate, Bisnowaty is now a redshirt freshman offensive tackle at Pitt.
"Adam and I are good friends," Wirginis said. "He was a senior when I was a sophomore. He had everything great to say about Pitt. He was great at being a good friend about it. He wasn't pushing me to come to Pitt. He just wanted me to make a good decision."
Ravotti expects Wirginis to have a big senior season and an excellent career at Pitt.
"I think he'll do very well," Ravotti said. "He's got the frame to add weight. He'll easily play at 250 pounds playing linebacker. At a program like Pitt, he'll get better as he matures. Playing in the ACC, they need athletic linebackers. Quintin is going to be a heck of a player down there. I think he's going to have a really good career at Pitt."hsfootball