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July 17, 2014

Pilato makes the 'natural' choice

As Tony Pilato moved through the recruiting process, he was never lacking for contact with the Pitt coaching staff.

In the last few months alone, the big offensive lineman from Hempfield took a pair of spring visits, attended the Panthers' prospect camp in June and returned for another visit a week later. So when Pilato finally made his commitment Thursday, the decision was a natural one.

"I just think it was a really good process with them," Pilato told Panther-Lair.com. "All the coaches were really genuine and they're all great guys; I really enjoyed spending time with them and the players. When it came down to it, it was the right fit for me.

"I think it really felt natural with Pitt. I just wanted to take my time and consider all my options. But they offered me first and that was a big thing, and t was just good with them. Toward the end of the process, it just felt right with them."

Pilato was recruited for Pitt by offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, and he had extended contact with offensive line coach Jim Hueber. Naturally, those were the coaches he called on Thursday when he was ready to make his commitment.

"I talked to Coach Rudolph first and then I called Coach Hueber," he said. "They were very excited. They really put everything into it and they made sure I knew that they really wanted me. They were telling me I was the big piece they needed for this class and how they need to keep building the offensive line moving forward and they need me for that.

"Coach Rudolph is very approachable; I related to him well, and he was a really nice guy with me and my whole family. He did the extra things that some guys won't do, just being there and putting in extra work that coaches don't really need to do. He did it and that was big for me

"And with Coach Hueber, he's been doing it for a long time and he sent a lot of guys to the next level; he knows what he's doing. That was big for me and that's who I want to play for as a line coach. I knew what I was getting into with him; you meet him and you know what type of guy he is. I think he's definitely an old school guy; he's going to tell you straight-forward what's going to happen, and that's the kind of guy I am, too. I get told what I need to do and then I work my butt off to improve and do what I'm supposed to do."

With Pilato on board, Pitt now has 12 commitments in the class of 2015, and he's the second offensive lineman to join the mix, along with Canon McMillan center/guard Alex Paulina. At 6'7" and 310 pounds, Pilato projects as a tackle, and while he's the latest in a line of quality offensive line prospects to pick Pitt, he's bullish on everything he has seen from the Panthers.

"I think they're doing a great job," Pilato said. "They have a lot of young players who played last year, and a lot of the recruits coming in this year are big-time, too. I think they're going in the right direction."

In addition to Pilato and Paulina, Pitt also has commitments from Kittanning tight end Nick Bowers, Altoona linebacker Kevin Givens, Malvern Prep quarterback Alex Hornibrook, Quaker Valley cornerback Dane Jackson, Apollo-Ridge receiver Tre Tipton, Pickerington (Oh.) Central defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, Hallandale Beach (Fla.) cornerback Malik Henderson, Wilmington (Del.) Alexis I Dupont receiver Quadree Henderson, Kettering (Oh.) Archbishop Alter defensive tackle Kraig Howe and Melbourne (Fla.) Palm Bay running back Sekai Lindsay.

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