When future University of Pittsburgh
wide receiver Michael Shanahan
of Norwin was first receiving athletic scholarships they were to play basketball.
No fewer than nine schools offered the 6-foot-6 forward, who averaged 18 PPG to lead the Knights to a 22-6 record in 2007-08. But while schools like Duquesne, Air Force, and Robert Morris were interested in Shanahan as a cager, schools like Georgia Tech, West Virginia, and aforementioned Pitt liked his gridiron skills.
And after he caught 37 passes for 13 touchdowns and a 19.8 yards per catch average during his senior year his attitude changed.
"The five touchdowns against Gateway opened my eyes," Shanahan said, referring to the Knights' 37-36 loss to the Gators on Sept. 21.
"I just had a feeling football would be best for me."
Shanahan has even taken to running sprints and relay races on Norwin's track team this spring to prepare.
But in a way, playing basketball may have helped him matriculate to Pitt. His AAU team, the Pittsburgh Storm, would practice at the Peterson Events Center.
"I'm familiar and comfortable with the area," Shanahan said. "I liked Pitt's campus a lot. I like the fact it was all kind of close by. Even though where I'll be living, Sutherland Hall, is up there, it's still close. I just like being in the city a lot."
Shanahan, however, is a suburban kid who didn't go into Pittsburgh a lot to hang out.
His basketball background has shaped his cultural tastes. He listens to hip-hop and his favorite book is "The Carolina Way" by Dean Smith.
As such, could Shanahan play both sports at Pitt, joining the ranks of Robert Haygood, Billy Osborn, and Brian Generalovich?
"They don't have a problem with me walking on [the basketball team] if I feel its right," Shanahan said.
"I'm going to focus on football and if basketball comes up and it ever comes up where there were a lot of injuries I might do it."
Which was the circumstance when punter Nate Cochran joined Ralph Willard's basketball team in the mid-90s.
Akron actually offered Shanahan the opportunity for him to have prominent roles on both the football and basketball teams, but he decided he'd be better off staying home at a higher profile college.
"A Pitt education would really help me out," he said, stating he has an interest in psychology and could see himself as a guidance counselor or psychology teacher.
And, after all, with a name like "Mike Shanahan" he has to be a football player, right?
"When I'm asked, I tell them [the Denver Broncos head coach of the same name] is my uncle and they go with it. But obviously there's no relation."
With the conclusion of spring practice the Pantherdigest will be profiling the members of the class of 2008 that will land in Oakland this year. You will read several interesting stories about the future Panthers including Norwin wide receiver Michael Shanahan.
The Pantherdigest takes and up and close and personal look at the newest Panthers.