After linebacker Greg Webster's freshman year in 2006, Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt wasn't able to successfully recruit any Wolverines. But that changed when Khaynin Mosley-Smith verbally committed to the Panthers Monday.
K.K. Smith was offered a scholarship June 12 during Pitt's initial prospects camp, so he only needed about three weeks to come to a decision. The 6-foot-1, 292-pound Smith is Pitt's lucky 13th verbal commitment for 2010 and the second defensive tackle along with Aaron Donald from Penn Hills.
"I'm very excited,'' Smith said. "I'm ready to go right now.''
Not surprisingly, it's Smith's high energy that first caught Pitt's interest in him.
"Pitt wants their D-linemen to be strong and quick, and they said I already fit right into that role,'' Smith said. "They also liked that I keep going and going, even if I mess up. I keep coming back until I get it right.''
Smith was all over the field for Woodland Hills coach George Novak as a junior last fall and should be a linchpin for the middle of his defensive line.
"K.K.'s a good kid, big and strong, and he moves real well for a big guy,'' Novak said about Smith at the Panthers' recent passing camp. "We love Pitt, and we enjoy coming down here whenever we can.''
Three Woodland Hills kids starred for the Panthers from 2000-03, cornerbacks Shawntae Spencer and William "Tutu'' Ferguson and fullback Lousake Polite, while nose tackle Tyre Young was dominant in 2001 before an injury and off-field issues derailed his career. Fullback Mark Yezovich walked on to Pitt and eventually lettered in 2006. But that was it for the Wolverines until Smith.
"Yeah, I'm familiar with every single one of those guys,'' Smith said. "I just want to be a big part of Pitt like they were. And you know, I'm up for competition any day, so with all these guys committing to Pitt I just wanted to join them. I waited a while, saw what else was out there and thought about it.
"But I picked Pitt because it really felt like a family bond there. It was great working with the coaches at the camp, and every time I went down there, it felt like I already was part of the team. Everybody knew me and talked to me, even the trainers. And it definitely wasn't the same for me with the other schools.''
Along with Pitt, Smith reportedly had scholarship offers from Michigan, West Virginia, Syracuse, Connecticut, Ohio and Toledo.
Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti handled Smith's recruitment for Pitt, but he also developed a strong relationship with D-line coach Greg Gattuso and head coach Dave Wannstedt. And more importantly, so did Smith's mother, Lisa.
"I really enjoyed the time I spent at Pitt, especially their academic program and (academic counselor) Matt (Dudek),'' she said. "He was just wonderful, and I got to talk to some of the coaches when we were there for the camps. It was K.K.'s decision, but what did it for me was the connection I felt at Pitt.
"It truly was just like a family, so what better place for my son to go to college but with his family. Everything they did was first class. I consider K.K. to be a well-grounded kid, so I wouldn't have minded if he went away to school. But I'm certainly happy that he stayed close to home and went to Pitt.''
And that also re-opened the pipeline to Woodland Hills.
K.K. Smith Is No. 13 For Pitt
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