Hollins Is Newest Pitt Commit

Juantez Hollins has been a Pitt football fan his entire life, and now he'll get to be part of the Panthers' surge back to prosperity.

A senior at Aliquippa, Pa. High School, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Juantez Hollins committed to Pittsburgh and officially will sign a letter-of-intent in February, 2009. Hollins was joined by his mom, Tamika Genes, and Quips assistant coach Sherman McBride for an unofficial visit to Pitt Tuesday afternoon.

The group had lunch at the UPMC Sports Complex, took a quick tour of the facilities and then headed to the Pitt campus in Oakland. Hollins is Pitt's third verbal commitment for the 2009 class. He joins 6-5, 300-pound offensive tackle Cory King from Lakeview HS in Stoneboro, Pa. and 5-7.5, 180-pound running back Dion Lewis from Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J.

"I always liked Pitt, and this just was the best decision for me to make,'' the soft-spoken Hollins said. "My mom likes Pitt a lot (she nodded her head vigorously as her son said this), and she wanted me to stay close to home.''

It's well-known that Pitt has had a pipeline to Aliquippa High School for years now, as well as Beaver County, so Hollins is just another gem to come from that fertile area in Western Pennsylvania. He joins former Quips teammates Jonathan Baldwin, a freshman wideout this fall, and redshirt freshman outside linebacker Brandon Lindsey with the Panthers.

"That's important to me, to have friends on the team already,'' Hollins said. "They can help me out when I need it. Brandon will have been here a couple years, and Jonathan will be there a year when I get there. So, they'll know what's going on and can help me do what I need to do.''

Pitt is expected to be ranked in the top 25 in the upcoming preseason by all the major polls and already has received national attention. And Hollins can't wait to be part of the Panthers' future success.

"They've had a couple good recruiting classes in a row, and it looks like they're going to be pretty good this year and years to come,'' Hollins said. "They have a lot of young guys on the team, so I'll be able to keep it going with them.''

Baldwin's father, Jeffrey, was a defensive lineman with the Panthers from 1981-84. Other former Pitt players from Aliquippa include cornerbacks Josh Lay and Darrelle Revis, a first-round draft pick by the New York Jets in 2007; defensive lineman Sean Gilbert, who spent a decade in the NFL; as well as Pro and College Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka.

"Aliquippa, it's been a great tradition there for us for a long time, starting with (assistant AD and football operations director) Chris LaSala,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said after Baldwin signed with the Panthers.

"So, when you treat players right and they come here and have success and get an opportunity to go to the NFL, there's an attitude where it can become contagious within the community and the school district. And we've been fortunate. Aliquippa has been one of those places for us.''

And Hollins will continue that pipeline next year.

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