Johnstown (PA) Bishop McCort has already sent the Panthers a tight end, in starter Mike Cruz. Despite playing coming from a small single-A school, Cruz finds himself the starter in just his third year with the program.
The Pitt coaching staff is keeping an eye on a junior lineman from McCort, in 6-5, 275-pound Zachary Rugg. Rugg was at the Pitt-Rutgers game on Saturday--his second Pitt game of the fall. He was also one of the many prospects at Pitt's camp over the summer.
Rugg is being recruited by Greg Gattuso, who recruits much of western Pennsylvania. He's also gotten to know Tony Wise during the last two Pitt games he has come up for.
"They're pretty straightforward with you," Rugg said. "They're not sure yet if they're recruiting me for offense or defense. At the Pitt camp I attended, they liked me as an offensive lineman."
Last year, Bishop McCort advanced all the way to the state championship game, before losing to Clairton--led by Pitt freshman receiver Kevin Weatherspoon, and 2011 verbal commit Desimon Green. Rugg started at nose guard, and was the lone sophomore starter on a team that had 21 seniors.
This year, Rugg not only plays defensive tackle, but every spot on the offensive line as well. Though each offensive line spot has its own assignment, Rugg's instincts take over when it comes to figuring out his assignment on each play. On defense, he is averaging 8.5 tackles a game on defense.
"It comes to me naturally," Rugg said. "Last year, being on the team, it's the same offensive plays and same offensive schemes from last year. This year, I play both ways on offense and defense. I'm around underclassmen that haven't played in the system, so I'm trying to help them out."
Though he was not a teammate of Cruz, his older brother Shane Rugg was a teammate of Cruz. It was exciting for Rugg to see someone from his school catch a pair of touchdown passes the way Cruz did on Saturday against Rutgers.
"It shows even from a small school you can make big plays in a big game," Rugg said. "It's all about hard work and hard effort."
The highlight of Saturday for Rugg was getting a chance to be face-to-face with head coach Dave Wannstedt.
"It's one of those things where when you're younger, you see him on TV," Rugg said. "Now, being older, I'm shaking hands with the guy. It's surprising how things happen."
Aside from getting to meet the head coach, Rugg was impressed with the atmosphere at Heinz Field. He expects to be back for another game at Heinz Field later this season.
"I really liked the atmosphere on the field before the game started," Rugg said. "Every player was involved. Knowing that whole stadium is filled with fans, and just the atmosphere before games. Walking through from where we parked, the people walking through the streets was constant. You can feel the game when you're down there."