Pitt Is It For Baldwin

Tezmalita and Jeffrey Baldwin raised their son to be humble, so it came as no surprise that there was a modest gathering at the family's home in Aliquippa, Pa. when Jonathan announced his decision to officially sign with the Pitt football team next year and begin school in the fall.

Baldwin received dozens of offers, but he always had Pittsburgh in the lead.

"Me and my parents have discussed it, and I really liked my official visit,'' Jonathan Baldwin said. "I committed (Sunday), but I waited so we could do this. And I feel that Pitt is the best place for me. My parents will get to come to most of my games. I like the coaches, and I think I'll be most comfortable at Pitt. I know all the players. And I think that's the best place for me.

"Pitt was in the lead the whole time, but I just wanted to keep it to myself. I was going to take some other official visits, but I decided not to. This will take a little bit of the pressure off, and I can focus on the (basketball) season. So, that's what I'm going to do. I've really liked Pitt since I was little, and I've watched guys like Darrelle Revis and Josh Lay play there. And when Coach Wannstedt got there it helped me make my decision even more.''

Despite her son's athletic success, Tezmalita Baldwin never looked this far ahead in Jonathan's career.

"I really never thought that it would come to this day,'' Mrs. Baldwin said. "You don't look at your child as one day being a nationally ranked high school player. But our main thing was for him to be humble and give it all all he's got. If he was going to do anything halfway, there was no need in doing it. ... So, he picked up on all that, and here we are today.''

The Aliquippa Quips have had a long history of sending athletes to play football for the Panthers. Baldwin talked about recent stars Revis and Lay, but there also was Sean Gilbert in the 1980s among others. But Baldwin said he did not take that into consideration.

"I was going to make my decision for me, so being from Aliquippa really didn't play into it very much,'' Baldwin said. "I had to do what was best for me, because you don't want to make the wrong decision and have it stay with you the rest of your life. And I just wanted to keep it in the family.''

Since Jeffrey Baldwin also played for Pitt from 1981-84, it certainly stayed in the family for Jonathan to go there.

"It definitely is a pleasure that he's staying close to home, and we've always been blessed by his athletic ability,'' Mr. Baldwin said. "And we're very proud of him. ... I was recruited by Hugh Green to be a defensive end, but I gained some weight and moved to defensive tackle. I played behind Dave Puzzuoli.''

Baldwin also confirmed that he was the recruit who sent a text message to Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt after the win at West Virginia and said: "I knew we could do it.'' But Baldwin added that the big win didn't affect his choice.

"I was going to Pitt whether they won or lost at West Virginia,'' Baldwin said. "And all the other recruiting stuff was kind of on the back burner, because I knew that I was going to Pitt all along. So, it really didn't bother me.

"I just wanted (Wannstedt) to know I was watching the game all along and that I was on his side,'' Baldwin said. "So, it was good for me to do that, and I know it made the coach feel good that I did that. I felt like I was part of it.''

Baldwin believed that his speed, good hands and elusiveness after the catch would benefit him at Pitt, but "there are still things that I can work on to be better as a player. (And) playing football at Aliquippa has prepared me to play in big games and make plays in college, so I'll be ready for stuff like that at Pitt.''

Baldwin is part of a flurry of recruits to verbally commit to Pitt since its win at West Virginia, and more are expected this week.

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