"So, with that said, I will be taking my talents to the University of Pitt," Poteat said, as he put a Pitt hat on, from a group of hats that included Notre Dame, Rutgers, USC, Tennessee and Florida.
Jameel Poteat was one of the first juniors to receive an official offer from Pitt last September. On the flip side for Poteat, Pitt was his first offer. That held some meaning all the way through the recruiting process, which in the end, made Pitt tough to beat out.
"They were his first offer, that always weighs a lot with our kids," Bishop McDevitt head coach Jeff Weachter said. "They work very hard at Bishop McDevitt. We've had kids go there and have success."
His commitment to the Panthers is big on many levels. One, Pitt brings in another big-time running back. Between 2001 and 2006, the Panthers did not have a 1,000-yard rusher. Over the last three seasons, they have produced three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons--two belonging to LeSean McCoy, now in the NFL, and another belonging to Heisman Trophy candidate Dion Lewis.
"It was a big factor," Poteat said, of Pitt's style of running the ball. "The running backs there, they're doing a great job. They have a great running back coach that can only make you better. That was a very big factor."
There will be a lot of talk this season about the possibility of whether Lewis leaves after a successful sophomore season. We won't know where that stands, until we see the kind of numbers he puts up. If he does leave, Pitt will have Ray Graham back, and now Poteat. There is also Savon Huggins, who is keeping Pitt in the mix. Dave Wannstedt has proven he can successfully use two running backs. Both McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling are in the NFL, after sharing the workload at Pitt.
The other part of Poteat's commitment, is the success that Pitt has reaped in central Pennsylvania. He is the fourth McDevitt player to commit to Pitt since 2006, joining McCoy, Aaron Berry, and former teammate Salath Williams, who signed this past February. In addition to that, he's the third player out of Pitt's 2011 class from central Pennsylvania, to verbally commit to Pitt.
Poteat's cousin, Hank Poteat, who just finished his tenth season in the NFL, his first with the Cleveland Browns, was somewhat of a factor in his decision, but only for advice on the recruiting process. The same can be said for McCoy. Jameel says neither pushed for him to go to Pitt.
"A little bit," Poteat said, whether he was pressured to go to Pitt by the former McDevitt stars. "(McCoy) had success at Pitt, he had success (at McDevitt). He set some great footsteps to follow. I think I can keep the tradition going.
"I knew the coaches since Shady (McCoy) and AB (Aaron Berry) was up there. I was always up there, wanting to watch them play. We had a 7-on-7 my sophomore year. I really got to meet the coaches, and just go around the city. I really feel comfortable there."
Hank Poteat was under a completely different era of Pitt football, but also served as a trailblazer of sorts. When Hank was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000, he was the first Pitt player at that point, to have been drafted in four years. Every year since then, a Pitt player has been selected in the draft.
What summed it up was family and playing close to home. The two things go hand-in-hand for Poteat, who is able to have his parents come see him play every week. He also senses the family atmosphere on the Pitt campus.
"You just walk outside the campus, and everybody is a family," Poteat said. "That really blew my mind. I really felt comfortable there. I was taking visits up there. You have to feel it in your heart. I told my mom before, ‘I'm going to commit, mom. I want to commit now.' I got it out of the way now. They've been showing me love since the beginning of my junior year."