The Pitt coaching staff scrambled to get their 2011 recruiting class put together in three weeks. Todd Graham talks about building relationships with the 2012 class. With the 2013 class, Graham and company have an opportunity to build relationships at a younger age, instead of pushing for a commitment right off the bat with a 2012 prospect.
Central Valley (PA) standout Robert Foster is a good example of how that relationship-building is paying off; both for Pitt and for Foster. Foster has been to a few camps, including the Penn State Nike Camp and the Pitt prospect camp last week. As he explores his early options, he's finding a comfort zone with the Pitt staff.
"I was real comfortable at the Pitt camp I went to," Foster said. "I'm real comfortable with the coaches. They showed me a lot of respect, and they talk to me a lot."
Outside of the coaching staff, Foster just enjoyed a chance to compete against what was arguably the deepest group of athletes of the three prospect camps Pitt held.
"There was a lot of competition out there," Foster said. "When you have competition, it's better to have that to prove that you're good. You have to be willing to be better than everyone else there. I liked the opportunity."
Recruiting has the opportunity to get overwhelming for a prospect between their sophomore and junior years. One offer can turn into several, following a good outing at a camp. Foster realizes that, but likes the way the Pitt staff is gradually introducing him into the whole process.
"I'd have to say (receivers) coach Mike (Norvell), he's really cool," Foster added. "As soon as I got inside the camp, he introduced me to his wife. He said, ‘you're like a part of my family now.' He said he knew me from watching me in high school; he watched some of the things I did. He showed a lot of love. I'm very comfortable with them."
It might be too early in his recruitment to call Pitt his leader or a favorite, but it's safe to say he does like the Panthers.
"I really do like Pitt," Foster added. "It's close to home, it's really cool. It's a nice campus. They have a nice coaching staff. I'm really looking at it."
Foster is just the latest standout from a deep Parkway Conference that includes five-star running back Rushel Shell, Wisconsin signee Mike Caputo, a talented quarterback for the future in Blackhawk's Chandler Kincade, a strong-armed quarterback from New Castle in John Matarazzo and a number of high-level prospects at Montour, led by running back Julian Durden. Every week is a challenge.
One additional challenge that Foster had as a sophomore was making the jump from single-A to triple-A as his former Monaca school was merged with the Center Area school district to create the new Central Valley. Moving up two classes wasn't a worry, as much as it was a realization for more opportunities such as the early interest he's receiving now.
"I thought it would be harder, but really it's just about better opportunities," Foster said. "Regardless of where you're at—single-A, double-A—when you're an athlete, you're an athlete. I do like the Parkway though. It's a better opportunity going up against someone every week. There's always something to prove."