Coach Speak : Jeff Weachter

Jameel Poteat

Bishop McDevitt head coach Jeff Weachter not only talks about the reasons why his star running back committed to the Panthers on Wednesday--he also talks about why many of his former star players have been committing to the Panthers since 2005.

When Jameel Poteat committed to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, he became the fourth Bishop McDevitt prospect to commit to the Panthers since 2006. The first two will be in NFL camps soon--LeSean McCoy in his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Aaron Berry, who signed a rookie free agent contract with the Detroit Lions.

Salath Williams signed with Pitt in February, and shows some promise for the future after being one of the state's most productive receivers in Quad-A over his junior and senior seasons. Poteat, who was an all-state selection, and put up over 1,600 yards on the ground and 400 receiving yards as a junior, joins his former teammate Williams.

While the track record of success is evident within the McDevitt players who have gone to Pitt, it is starting to spread to several other programs around central Pennsylvania. According to Weachter, Pitt's improved record over the years, and hard work is paying off.

"They were (Poteat's) first offer, that always weighs a lot with our kids," Weachter said. "Pitt works hard. They outworked everybody. I believe the NCAA allows them to come out six times a year. Every year since Dave Wannstedt has been their coach, they've been to Bishop McDevitt all six times."

For as much as Jeff Hafley has gotten a lot of well-deserved attention for his success in New Jersey in recent years, Brian Angelichio is quietly building his reputation as a recruiter in central and eastern Pennsylvania. In this class alone, Pitt got a linebacker commit (Ben Kline), its first offensive line commit of the class (Artie Rowell), and now a playmaking running back in Poteat. The class could get another addition later today, in Terrell Chestnut.

It wasn't too long ago that Pitt could not get athletes out of this area. That has all changed under Wannstedt. Part of it is the hard work that Weachter refers to. The other part, is Pitt backing up that hard work, by demonstrating success on the field.

"Brian (Angelichio), but David Walker came in this spring," Weachter said. "Dave (Wannstedt) came in, in January. They just work very hard at Bishop McDevitt. What helps them also is we had kids go there, and have success. (Williams and Poteat) felt guys like Aaron and Shady have been treated real well."

One thing that might be considered tough for some players, but not for Poteat, will be following in McCoy's footsteps. The truth is, after McCoy's record-setting career at McDevitt--a place where expectations are high every year--Poteat carved out a successful career of his own. There will no doubt be excitement around Pittsburgh in getting another running back from the same high school as McCoy, just as there will be excitement in getting another Poteat. Jameel's cousin Hank was the first Pitt player to be drafted in four years, after his Pitt career was done.

There will always be the association, but Poteat has proved--and will be comfortable in proving at Pitt, that he can have a special career of his own. Any comparisons between him and McCoy will just be tying them to the same high school or being from the same area.

"He has (dealt with the pressure)," Weachter said. "(McCoy and Poteat) are similar in some ways. Jameel can make some cuts, got some speed. He's a power runner too. He can split out and play receiver. The other thing he can do, he's a little bit better blocker than Shady coming out of high school."

When it came to making a decision, McCoy was there to offer advice, but never pressured Poteat into going to Pitt. Just like his own career that he found for himself, separating himself from McCoy's shadow, Poteat made his own decision.

"Shady told him, ‘Pitt was great for me, it was a good experience, but you got to do what's best for you.'" Weachter said. "That weighs into it."

With the decision out of the way, though, Weachter is excited to enjoy having Poteat on his team for one more season. Having the decision out of the way allows both the players and coaches, to focus in and have a good season in 2010.

"It's good," Weachter said, referring to having the decision out of the way. "You could tell it was really wearing on him the last couple of weeks. He was going to wait until the end of the season, and announce on Tom Lemming. He said to me late last week, ‘Coach, I want to get it done.' It's good for us."

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