Former Gateway HS standout talks Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh is in the process of rebuilding their offensive line. With four offensive linemen already joining the Panthers class of 2007, will there be room for one or two additional linemen? A former Gateway High School star hopes that Pitt has him on their radar. Read on for details.

One year ago, Gateway High School (Monroeville, PA) offensive lineman Chris Hanna (6-foot-4 inches, 285 pounds) was preparing for a successful senior season with dreams of moving on to the University of Pittsburgh. Considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the state of Pennsylvania, he grew up rooting for the Panthers.

Pitt expressed tremendous interest in Hanna until it appeared he would fail to qualify academically. Despite his questionable status, Illinois, Rutgers, Duke, Kent State, Akron and East Michigan opted to offer him a scholarship.

Chris diligently attempted to improve his academic status but his efforts fell short. His head football coach, Terry Smith, suggested he head to Milford Academy in New Berlin, NY to improve on and off the football field.

"I'm glad Coach Smith suggested I come to Milford," stated Hanna. "I needed to get my grades up and improve my SAT scores. I can do that here plus focus on becoming a better football player."

"We just got started but the workouts are tough. We are up at 6:00 in the morning, we stretch then we run eight gassers. I have already dropped some pounds. Right now I'm around 285 pounds."

"The practices remind me of the practices I had in high school but they are faster. We have three practices a day at 6:30, 10:30 and 3:30."

Hanna played at 300 pounds last year. He will start at right tackle for Milord this season. Chris is capable of bench pressing 320 pounds and squatting nearly 400 pounds.

"The two main schools I'm going to look at when I'm done in December are Pitt and Illinois. Pitt is my top choice. I would love to play there," stated Hanna.

The Panthers added Gateway High School standouts Dan Loheyde and Aaron Smith to their class of 2006. Hanna attempts to keep in contact with both. "I talk to Aaron more than anyone. He has great things to say about the Panthers," he said. "I haven't been in contact with Pitt but it's early right now. It would be great to join their team in January."

"I'm a strong run blocker with solid technique and speed. I'm playing tackle at Milford but most people tell me I'll play guard in college."

Milford Academy opens their season against Hudson Valley Community College on August 27th. Another Pitt target, Aundre Wright (5-foot-9 ½ inches, 185 pounds) from Perry Traditional Academy, will be one of the starting wide receivers for the Falcons. Wright, like Hanna, hopes to join the Panthers after his season is over.

"I simply want to work hard on improving my grades and becoming a better player. Hopefully I'll be playing at Heinz Field next year."

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at

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