"Mad" Max Gruder commits to Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh football team will lose a myriad of quality linebackers after the 2006 season including H.B. Blades and Clint Session. Although the Panthers are reeling from their loss to Connecticut, Head Coach Dave Wannstedt received some great news when North Carolina linebacker Max Gruder committed to Pitt on Sunday.

"I just called Coach (Dave) Wannstedt and committed to Pitt," stated rugged middle linebacker Max Gruder (6-foot-2 inches, 220pounds) from Charlotte Country Day High School in Charlotte, NC. "Pitt was the school I wanted to go to all along. I told every school recruiting me that Pitt would be my choice if they offered."

Charlotte Country Day High School defeated Victory Christian High School (Class 3A Independent) in the Virginia state semi-finals 28-7 last week. Gruder had one of his best games this season registering 13 tackles in the game. His high school is set to play Charlotte-Latin High School this week for the state championship.

"I simply liked everything about Pitt. I liked the school, the coaches and the facilities. I truly would like to play as a freshman and it looks like I could get some playing time. I have no expectations heading into my freshman year, but I want to work hard and try to get onto the field."

Gruder has been a three year starter for Charlotte Country Day High School. He's capable of bench pressing 340 pounds, squatting 600 pounds and running the forty-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

"I was reading the message board on the PantherDigest.com and I saw some of the comments from Pitt fans. I want to make two points clear," said Guder. "First, I don't run a 4.8 forty-yard dash. I have actually run a 4.45 forty-yard dash recently and I run a consistent 4.5 forty. Second, fans wanted to know why I didn't have offers from schools in North Carolina. The truth was that I never sent any of them my film because I wasn't interested in them. Trust me, everyone recruiting me knew who my favorite school was and I just committed to them. I wanted to be a Panther."

Max registered 132 tackles his junior season. He currently has registered 100 tackles and leads his teams in tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles. Gruder was named All-State and All-Conference as a junior. He recently was invited to participate in the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl. The Shrine Bowl is an annual all-star game that pits the top seniors from both states.

When asked about his strengths, he stated "My size and speed are obviously an asset. I play with a lot of heart. I give you everything I have on the field. I play sideline to sideline."

"Coach Wannstedt told me that I'm not a lock for middle linebacker. They really like my speed and they could try me at outside linebacker. I know that Pitt has struggled on defense and speed has been an issue. I hope to help to fix that problem."

Gruder has received scholarship offers from Western Michigan and Rice. North Carolina State and Illinois have recently contacted him about his senior film and hope to schedule official visits.

"I have had a number of college players and I can tell you that Max is as good as any of them," stated Charlotte Country Day High School Head Football Coach Bob Witman. "You just don't see too many players with Max's size that can move that fast. Max is a really big player, but his main asset is his speed. He runs sideline to sideline and he can run anyone down."

"Pitt just landed themselves a great player.'

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at harrypsaros@msn.com.


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