Pitt picked up a big addition to its 2012 recruiting class on the morning of signing day, as McKees Rocks (PA) Sto-Rox linebacker Deaysean Rippy committed to the Panthers.
Even though most schools recruited him as a linebacker, Pitt is also recruiting him as a safety. He expects to stay there by the time fall camp rolls around.
"They’ve had a lot of big-name safeties," Rippy said. "I hope I can be that guy, maybe strong safety. Everyone knew I wasn’t your typical linebacker, especially in high school. I always thought of myself as a safety. I played safety before. I just mentioned to the coaches, I’m similar to a safety. Safety would be my choice of position."
Rippy chose the Panthers over a host of other offers including West Virginia, Arizona and Colorado. He had taken visits to those schools in recent weeks. He had taken multiple visits to Pitt and West Virginia during his recruiting process. He ended all speculation on the morning of signing day, committing to the Panthers.
In regards to familiarity, Rippy couldn’t have gone wrong with any of his choices. At Colorado, his cousin Doug is a linebacker for the Buffaloes. At Arizona, he was able to gain interest in the Wildcats thanks to football operations assistant Matt Dudek, and Wildcat assistant Tony Gibson. Dudek was a major factor in his initial interest in Pitt when Dave Wannstedt was head coach. Throw in new Wildcat defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel as a factor as well, who recruited Rippy while at West Virginia.
In the end, Rippy said the efforts that football assistant Bob Junko made to keep the lines of communication open, won him over.
"I called Junko last night," Rippy said. "I almost gave him a heart attack, just playing around with him, ‘I’m going to West Virginia,’ just playing with him. Everyone can thank Bob Junko for this opportunity, and getting me here."
Despite being recruited by three coaches in his time at Pitt—Dave Wannstedt, Todd Graham and now Paul Chryst—Rippy was comfortable with the new staff, enough to see some stability in place. He talked about the wave of momentum in his Pitt interest, and how it led him to signing day.
"I never really talked to (Todd) Graham," Rippy said. "I disliked him. Honestly, if Todd Graham was still there, he wouldn’t have a chance. (His interest in Pitt) went up when Wannstedt was there. Todd Graham got there, I never liked him. He didn’t know who he was. From then, I always got a bad vibe about it.
"It seems like they have that NFL coaching experience (Paul Chryst). We’ll see what happens this year. I hope we get a good bond like I had with Coach Wannstedt."
There was also a connection with the current players on the team, including redshirt freshman receiver Drew Carswell—Rippy’s cousin. He also established a connection with fellow members of his recruiting class, and made an interesting comparsion with how he views this Pitt class.
"It's just like the Miami Heat; LeBron James, (Chris) Bosh and (Dwyane) Wade," Rippy made the comparison. "That's what I've been comparing it to. It's like the dream team. I'm the LeBron James fan, so I would be LeBron. Rushel Shell can be the Bosh or Wade, Chad (Voytik) can be Bosh or Wade."
Though safety it is for Rippy, he did finish with 22 catches for 389 yards on offense. He was also a first-team all-conference selection, and played in the Semper-Fidelis game in Arizona last month.