Max Gruder prepares for Pitt visit

Max Gruder from Charlotte, NC was the first linebacker to commit to the Panthers football class of 2007. He, along with a myriad of talented players, will visit the Panthers in early January. The PantherDigest.com spoke with him about his upcoming trip to Pittsburgh.

"Coach (Dave) Wannstedt was at my house recently," stated rugged linebacker Max Gruder (6-foot-2 inches, 225 pounds) from Charlotte Country Day High School in Charlotte, NC. "We talked about a lot of things and it was a great visit. Overall we spent over two hours together. Coach Wannstedt stopped by my school as well. He's a great guy and he made a strong impression on my parents."

"Mad" Max is scheduled to visit Pitt on January 12th along with a host of talented players. Gruder stated he was scheduled to visit along with "10 to 12" other recruits.

"Coach Wannstedt told me to come to Pitt ready to play. He's not sure if I'll play middle or outside linebacker. Outside of Tommie Campbell, it looks like their starting positions are up for grabs," stated Gruder. "He told me I would start on special teams and work my way up from there."

Max led Charlotte Country Day to an outstanding 10-3 record and a birth in the NCISAA state championship against Charlotte Latin High School. His team was subsequently defeated 28-25 in a thrilling overtime game.

Gruder is capable of running a 4.5 forty-yard dash, bench press 340 pounds and squatting 610 pounds.

Max, a former Hockey player, is quite internet savvy and frequents Pitt related sites. After viewing his Scout.com "two-star" ranking, he has developed a chip on shoulder that he plans to bring to Pittsburgh.

"I have seen my rankings and don't understand it," stated a frustrated Gruder. "I think I have been stigmatized because I play for a small private school. I'm guessing that Pitt fans on your site perceive me as a reach. I know I can play with anybody. I went to the NIKE camp in Gainesville, Florida and had the 2nd highest SPARQ score of any linebacker there. I went to Florida to compete against the best and I as good as any down there."

The SPARQ Rating is the first-ever system designed to measure sport-specific athleticism. Created to capture the key aspects of athleticism, these tests are combined and weighted in a unique proprietary formula. A SPARQ rating is accumulated based on the following tests: vertical jump, standing broad jump, 10-yard dash, 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, L-drill, bench press, 5kg Power Ball throw and two vision/reaction tests.

"I plan on getting to Pitt and outworking everyone. I'm coming to Pitt and proving to everyone that I'm not a lower rated recruit. I ran a slow forty-yard dash ten pounds heavier with a pulled hamstring and all of sudden I'm rated lower. My main asset is my speed. I was the fastest player on my team and in our conference."

Max finished his senior year with 110 tackles and his junior year with 132 tackles. He was a three-year starter for Charlotte Country Day High School. Gruder is a solid student with a 3.0 grade point average.

"I'm looking forward to the visit to Pitt. I want to get to know my future teammates better and see more of the campus. Pitt's going to be playing Georgetown in basketball and we're going to attend the game."

NOTE: Gruder was invited to participate in the Oasis All-Star Shrine Football Classic at Catawaba College (Salisbury, NC). The Shrine Bowl is an annual all-star game that pits the top seniors from North and South Carolina. Max opted not to participate.

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


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