Gut Feeling

Seton-LaSalle offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski became the ninth verbal committment for West Virginia's 2007 recruiting class. In this exclusive interview with, Gradkowski explains his decision.

Fittingly, the battle for Gradkowski's services came down to the Mountaineers and Backyard Brawl rival Pitt. Gradkowski had hinted that he would make an announcement sometime soon, but ended up taking one last trip to each school before making the call.

"It feels great (to have the process over with,) he said. "It was dead even for a while, and it was going back and forth between both schools, but I had the gut feeling that I was supposed to be at West Virginia and I went with it."

Gradkowski can play either guard or center at the collegiate level, but doesn't seem to have a preference either way.

"I don't know what (West Virginia offensive line) coach (Rick) Trickett wants me to play, so I'll just wait until I get there and see what happens."

Making the decision harder than it already was for Gino was the fact that he liked the offensive line coaches at both schools.

"I really liked (Pitt offensive line coach Paul) Dunn, but there was something about Coach Trickett," he said. "He's an intense guy who demands a lot, and gets a lot out of his players.

"I also liked the town. It's more of a college atmosphere and the stadium is right there on the campus."

Gradkowski has spent a lot of time on West Virginia's campus over the past few months. In March, he watched attentively as Mountaineer players went through a day of spring drills. Three weeks ago he took part in West Virginia's one day rising senior camp. And, as mentioned before, he visited both campuses this past week. The younger brother of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski said he plans on spending a lot more time on campus this coming fall.

"Oh yeah, I'll be there. With my cousin (Mountaineer wide receiver Carmen Connolly being on the team there I'll be down to see as many games as I can."

As for the recruiting process, it's all over for Gino. Now he's got his mind set on bigger goals at the high school level.

"This is a solid verbal. I'm just going to worry bout my senior season and high school team from here on out," he said. "We want to win a state title. We've won a district, but I haven't won the state yet. I'm not too worried about all-star games or anything like that. I'm focused on winning the state title."

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