Elijah Zeise already had a pretty big summer. Being a part of one of the biggest programs in western Pennsylvania, in North Allegheny, Zeise had been to Pittsburgh's 7-on-7 camp and individual prospect camp. He attended the same camps a year ago, as well.
He also took unofficial visits to Maryland, Rutgers, West Virginia and Kent State this summer. Pitt has been a big part of his life, being that his dad Paul Zeise was a long-time beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covering the Panthers. Despite being there multiple times over the years, Zeise said he wasn't expecting he'd get the verbal offer he was hoping for.
"It was pretty exciting," Zeise said. "I was a little shocked. I won't lie, I didn't expect it to happen this fast."
Zeise had been on the Pitt radar, even with the previous coaching staff. He started every game as a sophomore corner for North Allegheny last year, playing an instrumental role in their 14-1 season last year that included another WPIAL championship, the lone loss coming to LaSalle in the state championship game. He finished the season with 42 tackles and 2 interceptions. He will likely see both sides of the ball as a junior.
"We've been talking to Coach (Joe) Rudolph for awhile," Zeise said. "I went to their camp back in June, then I went to their 7-on-7 camp with the rest of our North Allegheny team. Coach Chryst was talking to my dad, and (Chryst) told (his dad) to bring me down. We went down Tuesday, went into his office, and that's when it happened."
As for some of the things he likes about Pitt?
"They're a Nike school," Zeise said. "I like that, so that's a draw. I like how it's an urban-based school. Their academics, from what I hear, are very good. That draws me in as well. There's also something about growing up here, and that it would be cool to play for the hometown team."
Looking ahead, to Pitt joining the ACC, Zeise gave us a recruit's perspective on that.
"At this point, I label them as a program getting ready to be on the rise," Zeise said. "They're not quite there yet, but by the time I'd get there, I would think (the ACC) would enhance them and create better competition. There's more TV time, as well. Better bowls, not to mention getting to play in some of the ACC atmospheres."
Zeise also took time to talk about some of the other campuses he's been to.
Maryland – "Their facilities are real nice. Their uniforms are real nice. I got to meet Randy Edsall. He's a real nice guy.
Rutgers – "Their facilities are real nice. I got to meet a couple coaches. They are real nice, down to earth guys. I like how the school is a little less than an hour from New York City."
West Virginia – "Their facilities. When I went down, all the coaches had a real good understanding, to me. They want to get things done. I like Coach (Keith) Patterson."
Zeise says he expects to make it back to all these schools again throughout the season. For now, he turns his emphasis to his team. The Tigers are in excellent position to repeat as WPIAL champs again.
"We pretty much have everyone back," Zeise said. "We lost a lot on the line. We still have (Michigan commit Patrick) Kugler. Everyone else is pretty much new. We lost a little bit at running back, but we have Alex Diciantis, so we should be good there. Our linebackers are a little inexperienced, but I have faith in them."