Pitts Expands On His Signing With Pitt

In addition to talking about why he signed with Pitt, Lafayette Pitts talked about his role--a role that both Todd Graham and Tony Gibson also talked about for him.

After holding a press conference at his school on Wednesday morning to announce which school he would be momentarily signing with, there was only one word that could describe his feeling to be officially signed with a school.

"I'm really relieved, because now I can just focus back on school," Pitt said. "I'm very relieved that this is all over with."

Pitts, who rushed for over 1,700 yards and 28 total touchdowns last season, in helping Woodland Hills reach the WPIAL championship game for a second year in a row, initially committed to the Panthers on June 26. He held that commitment even through the dismissal of Dave Wannstedt, citing on December 14 that he would take additional visits to Iowa and Maryland, just to have another pair of schools to compare things with.

He stayed committed to Pitt when Todd Graham was named head coach on January 11. Six days after that, Pitts took an unofficial visit to the Pitt basketball game, as the Panthers defeated Syracuse 74-66. That following weekend, he took an official visit to Rutgers, where he committed to the Scarlet Knights following the visit, last Monday.

He still planned to follow through with the official visit to Pitt, this past weekend. It was after that visit that even though he still had that relationship with Frank Cignetti Jr. and Jeff Hafley, now assistants at Rutgers, he had to tell them he was going to go back to his original commitment and be a Panther.

"It was tough," Pitts said of having to tell Cignetti and Hafley the news. "It was tough to tell them that I wanted to come back to the University of Pittsburgh and stay close to home and family. I've known those guys a long time. That was a very hard part. I just have to do what's best for me. I felt that was the University of Pittsburgh; just staying close to home and staying close to family and for them to see me and my cousin (Jevonte Pitts) play. That was a big part."

One thing that was working against Pitt, was just the fact of having a new coaching staff. Pitts was comfortable with them. He just hadn't known them as long as the previous staff. Once he did get to know them, he took a look around and looked at some of the other benefits of Pitt, besides playing close to home and being around family and friends.

"If Coach Wannstedt was here, there's no question I would have (stayed committed throughout) to the University of Pittsburgh," Pitts said. "But, besides that staff, there was always a reason why I committed to the University of Pittsburgh, what led me to the University of Pittsburgh. The academic support is good. For Pitt to sit down one-on-one with me and walk me through all the support I would get from them, one-on-one, this person and that person, showed me a lot about them. That was the only school that showed me the help that I would need in order to succeed. That was a big part."

On the visit, not only did he sit down and visit with the staff one-on-one, but he had a chance to connect with him. If losing a sense of familiarity with a coaching staff was a factor in not going back to Pitt, it's safe to say he got that sense of familiarity back as he got to know the new staff.

"The visit solidified how comfortable I am at home," Pitts said. "I knew everywhere to go, the places and everything, and the tours. (The coaches) were asking me to do a little bit of the tours. It's funny because I'm familiar with the place and everything.

"I got to meet the coaches and know them all very well. I got to talk to all of them one-on-one and meet all of their families. There's some pretty good people."

Pitts will start off at corner, but also said there's a possibility of playing offense too.

"My primary position will be corner, special teams and returning," Pitts said. "They also told me that they actually have a package just for me, like a Wildcat/quarterback type deal, and a little bit of slot receiver for reverses and things like that."

That's not just player-speak, as both head coach Todd Graham and defensive backs coach Tony Gibson admitted.

"Lafayette Pitts is a corner, obviously I might have to split time with him on offense," Gibson said.

"He was a must for us," Graham said. "A guy that loves the University of Pittsburgh and a guy that will play corner for us on defense. He will be a guy who will be a ‘Wildcat' quarterback on offense, return punts, return kicks, and a guy naturally we're extremely excited about."

Pitts isn't just hopeful of playing offense. It sounds like there is a plan in place.

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