Panther Profile: Justin Virbitsky

Over the next few weeks as the Panthers begin spring practice, the Pantherdigest will be profiling the members of the class of 2008 that will land in Oakland this year. You will read several interesting stories beginning with Lakeland tight end Justin Virbitsky.

Know the old story about the farm boy who develops his body working in the fields and becomes a football star?

Future Pittsburgh Panther tight end Justin Virbitsky comes from a somewhat similar background.

Instead of the farm, the Virbitsky family owns a construction company in the Scranton area where they reside.

Guess where the 6-5, 251-pound Virbitsky spent his summers?

"I worked a lot in the summer laboring," Virbitsky said. "The last two or three summers I've been mixing cement and bringing blocks and bricks to the masons."

Bringing cement blocks to masons! How did he keep his hands soft for catching passes?

"I'd go through a couple of pairs of gloves a day!" he said.

With this revelation Panthers fans may be relieved to know Virbitsky is projected as a blocking tight end, but he was also a fine pass-rushing defensive end as was twice named Class AA All-Region, leading Lakeland High School to the Class AA state quarterfinals with a 12-2 record in his junior year.

He also starts for the Chiefs' basketball team as a center and has exceeded 49 feet with a shot put throw and 149 feet with a discus.

Some early reports listed Virbitsky as a Penn State fan, but Pitt fans will be happy to know those reports were a bit overrated.

Yes, they were his favorite team, a product of being a native Pennsylvanian in the opposite end of the Commonwealth from Pittsburgh.

And, after committing, the Pitt fans in Jermyn, Pennsylvania came out of the woodwork.

"I never knew that many people around here went there," he said.

Virbitsky has one Pittsburgh tie. His uncle Eddie lives in the area and went with him on his official visit.

As such, Virbitsky had visited Pittsburgh before and he has had positive first impressions.

"Oakland seems very cool. There is a lot of stuff to do there. Pittsburgh seems like a really cool place."

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