"I attended Pitt's summer camp but I didn't really get the full tour. This was first opportunity to spend some quality time at the school and get to know everything better. My parents were a little nervous about the trip before we went. They were sold on Pitt by the time it was over. They loved the visit as well"
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.
"My host was Scott McKillop. He was really cool and we mostly hung out with Gus Mustakas and Henry Hynoski," said Gruder. "Friday night we went to Dave and Busters. Some kid pulled the fire alarm and it shut down almost all of the games there. In a way, it was kind of good because it gave us the chance to get to know each other better and shoot some pool. When they finally opened the games back up, we wasted little time ripping through our game cards."
Gruder is capable of running a 4.5 forty-yard dash, bench press 340 pounds and squatting 610 pounds. 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.
"Saturday was simply great. I really enjoyed the tour of the campus and facilities. Two parts that were very impressive were the business school review and our meeting with Chancellor Mark Nordenberg," said Gruder. "Meeting the Chancellor was great. He talked about Pitt and their future plans for the school. There are a lot of schools out there and don't have support from the top. He was standing there telling us how much he supports Pitt athletics. He wants to see them back in the national spotlight. Learning about Pitt's business school was great as well. I didn't realize it was ranked amongst the top business schools in the country."
Gruder is one of three linebackers to join the Panthers class of 2007. Tristan Roberts (6-foot, 215 pounds) from Perkasie, PA and Brandon Lindsey (6-foot-2 inches, 220 pounds) from Aliquippa, PA have verbally committed to Pitt.
"I really enjoyed the basketball game on Saturday. The atmosphere was incredible and the fans were simply going crazy. It was obvious that the fans were trying to get LeSean McCoy to come to Pitt. They were all cheering for him," said Gruder. "A student had a sign with a bunch of our names on it. My name and the other guys that committed were on the sign with checks next to our names. LeSean's name was the last one and it was left unchecked. He walked up and checked it and the crowd went nuts. It was a great moment. I understand he committed on Sunday. That makes our class even better."
On Sunday Gruder was able to meet one on one with Defensive Coordinator Paul Rhodes and Head Coach Dave Wannstedt. "Both basically told me what I already knew. They want me to come in ready to play and contribute on special teams," said Gruder. "I just want to help the team. It doesn't matter in what capacity. If I can see some time at linebacker next year, that's great. If I have to redshirt and help the team on the scout team, I'm fine with that as well. I simply want to make the team better. I'm going to work very hard and come in ready to compete."
"I like our class quite a bit and I like the linebacker class we have coming. Myself, Tristan and Brandon were brought in because we can run and we're fast. I think our recruiting class is going to take Pitt to a new level."
Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.