Pitt Still Interested In Florida Players

When University of Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt reorganized his recruiting efforts this year to concentrate more in Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northern Virginia and Maryland areas, it was widely believed that Florida was being de-emphasized.

But that's not just the case, according to primary Sunshine State recruiter Charlie Partridge. The Pittsburgh special teams coordinator and linebacker coach, Partridge still ventures into Florida. And his latest coup was getting Miramar High School coach Damon Cogdell to bring 49 players to Pitt's camp.

"Coach Partridge and I have been talking for quite some time, and I told him when I got the head coaching job at Miramar, the high school I graduated from, I told him we'd try to bring the majority of my kids up here,'' Cogdell said. "And I went to West Virginia, so I can visit there, too.''

Miramar is located in Broward County, South Florida, about "100 yards from the Dade County border,'' Cogdell said. So, this is a fertile area for football recruiting. During their spring workouts, Cogdell noted that there were 140 players in camp for Miramar, a Class 6-A high school (the largest) in Florida.

"We have a lot of young, talented kids, and they're very eager to get it done,'' Cogdell said. "We had more kids that wanted to come, but we just couldn't take all of them.''

Cogdell added that Pitt has shown some interest in senior running back-outside linebacker Corey Tate, senior linebacker-defensive end Winston Kennedy and junior quarterback Eugene "Gino'' Smith, among others.

"I talked to Pitt a little bit, Coach Partridge,'' Kennedy said. "And I'm enjoying myself here. I like the scenery and the campus in the city, and their practice facility here is really great. The fields, they're really nice. And being at the same place with the Steelers is pretty good, too.''

Pitt has offered all three, but the group downplayed that and preferred to talk about their prospect for success in the upcoming season.

"Pitt writes me every week, and they've been on my mind, too,'' Tate said. "I have some offers, Winston has, too, but we don't want to talk about them. We don't want to get too bigheaded. We want to stay focused right now, and we have a big season coming up to get ready for right now.''

Smith has received a lot of interest, and he basically put the unique high school trip in perspective.

"Things are going great for me,'' Smith said. "I'm glad to be able to come up here for Pitt's camp. It gives us a chance to leave home for a while and see a different part of the country. It's a nice experience. I'm having a good time, and it also gives you a chance to measure yourself against athletes from around here instead of just going up against the ones we have back home.

"Pitt's making a lot of contact with me now, and I'm interested in them, too. But I'm trying not to focus too much on picking a school right now. I want to improve myself to get ready for this season. We're going to be real good, a new dynasty, so you can forget about Miami Senior High School. Don't even write about them. We're the team to beat this season.''

senior free safety and wideout Marcos Archer also enjoyed the experience.

"Pitt has shown a little interest, so I was glad to make the trip here,'' Archer said. "We had a good first night, got some good food, and then we went back to the dorm. And we're really happy to take part in Pitt's camp.

"A lot of kids from our area don't get a chance to do something like this, and we just hoped to make the most of it. I wouldn't mind coming back here. It was a good trip, and it's a very nice area. I liked it a lot.''

As long as Pitt's recruiting ventures remain in Florida, that's not out of the question.

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