Coach Speak: Brandyn Cook

Brandyn Cook committed to the Panthers on Friday; just two days after getting his verbal offer, and less than a week after his first trip to Pitt. There's no question he grew to love the school in such a short time, but it was a relationship built between head coach Steve Specht and Pitt assistant Tony Dews that helped lay the ground work

St. Xavier (OH) head coach Steve Specht hasn't seen Pitt build a presence at his school in nearly a decade, when Walt Harris' staff recruited another lineman of his, Matt Vogele, who eventually commited to Miami of Ohio.

When Todd Graham's staff was put in place, it was tight ends coach Tony Dews—who recruited St. Xavier when he was at Michigan—who stopped by his school.

"He's a good guy," Specht said. "We have developed a pretty good friendship. When he was at Michigan, he always hammered St. X. I always gave him a list of kids."

One of the kids Specht told him to keep an eye on this year, is center Brandyn Cook, who committed to the Panthers on Friday.

"I told (Dews), ‘If you're looking for a center, I'd be shocked that anyone's better than the kid I have here,'" Specht said. "He's a shade under 6-2. He's not a tall, long-armed guy, but he's one of the top-five linemen I've ever coached from a fundamental standpoint. He's just a football player."

From there, Dews took an interest, hoping to get Cook to one of Pitt's prospect camps. Specht always believed that Cook could be one of those guys who would impress a coaching staff at a prospect camp. He couldn't have been more right.

"Tony, he stayed on him," Specht added. "He loved him from the get-go. He went to camp last week. Tony called me right after. He said, ‘Coach, he tore it up, he was just unbelievable, he did everything you were saying.' He said he was physical, he had great feet. He said they were going to watch what they had on film, and make a decision (about an offer) later in the week."

That lasted until Wednesday, when the Pitt coaching staff extended the verbal offer. Cook came back to Pittsburgh on Friday, where he spent the entire day taking a closer look at Pitt. By the end of the day, he decided Pitt was where he wanted to be.

"He went back, got the full tour, and got to sit with all the coaches," Specht said. "(Cook) and I had spoken. He had an offer from Miami of Ohio and Youngstown State. Everybody else was just waiting."

Though Specht expected more offers could come, he felt that the situation at Pitt—coming so soon with an offer after his prospect camp—he encouraged Cook to jump on the opportunity.

"When he looked at it, it was a good football program," Specht added. "He wants to be a lawyer, and (academics) was a selling point. The coaching staff isn't going anywhere, so if he's coming in, they're going to be there four years. (Head coach Todd Graham) is going to have a chance to bring his own guys in.

"He loved the coaching staff, loved the campus. When he took his unofficial, he said he loved it. It exceeded his expectations. He said he was going to commit. He might have had other offers, but the way they were recruiting him, it was a win-win situation. We're excited to have (Pitt) back at St. X."


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