Mike White| Tuesday, June 2, 10:40 p.m.
Fox Chapel lineman Miles Dieffenbach admitted Pitt was his favorite school until recently. Having Pitt as his favorite made sense, especially considering Dieffenbach's tie to Pitt. His father, George, has been Pitt's womens tennis coach for close to three decades.
Then Penn State came on strong in recent weeks and landed Dieffenbach, one of the best offensive linemen in the WPIAL. Dieffenbach made a verbal commitment to Penn State this afternoon while on a visit to PSU with his parents. Penn State didn't offer Dieffenbach a scholarship until a few weeks ago. Dieffenbach said Penn State wanted to see more film of him before deciding whether to offer.
Dieffenbach had visited Penn State for two games last season, but really didn't move the Nittany Lions to No. 1 on his list until he visited a few weeks ago - and again today.
Dieffenbach is definitely a loss for Pitt, if for no other reason than Dieffenbach is another one who got away. Penn State now has four WPIAL recruits from the class of 2010 - Dieffenbach, Penn-Trafford offensive lineman Luke Graham of Penn-Trafford, quarterback Paul Jones of Sto-Rox and linebacker Mike Hull of Canon-McMillan. Hampton's Jordan Paskorz committed to Michigan last week. We'll never know how bad Pitt wanted any of those five, but the Panthers offered scholarships to all of them and believed they had a good shot to get Dieffenbach.
Maybe Pitt fans shouldn't fret. I've contended that Pitt actually took too many WPIAL players in Coach Dave Wannstedt's first two years. They took some WPIAL players who were never going to be factors in their program.
The days of Pitt living off Western Pennsylvania players has been over for a few decades. The Panthers are not going to get every top player from the WPIAL, either. But it certainly would help Pitt to land at least a handful of Western Pennsylvania's top players. That's not happening now. In Wannstedt's first year, he talked about building a fence around Western Pennsylvania. But the truth is, that fence never existed under any Pitt coach and it never will in the future.
In past years, Pitt has landed some top players outside of Western Pennsylvania under Wannstedt. Maybe that can happen again. But if most of the top Western Pennsylvania players don't choose Pitt, it definitely hurts some.
There are still some top players left in the WPIAL from the class of 2010, but a few of them could also spurn Pitt. Trinity linebacker Ken Wilkins will announce his decision at a news conference next week. He has narrowed his list to Pitt, Michigan, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. The hunch here is that it will be either Pitt or Michigan.
Also, Michigan is definitely one of the top choices for two Penn Hills playes - receiver/defensive back Brandon Ifill and defensive back Cullen Christian. They were reportedly going to visit Michigan this past weekend, but didn't. They still both plan to visit Michigan at some point this summer.
Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley recruited Dieffenbach, but didn’t offer a scholarship until a few weeks ago. When Penn State offered, things changed. Dieffenbach visited Penn State with his father a few weeks ago. His mother, Emma, and father went with him for another visit today. He had been to two Penn State games last season.
"But I never really got a feel for Penn State before," Miles Dieffenbach said. "When they offered, I said, ‘This is a pretty big offer. I think I need to check the place out.’ When I saw it the last two times, I saw the campus and the facilities. Everything was there. It had everything I was looking for."
Dieffenbach said there is no chance of him changing his mind.
"Me committing is just as good as signing," Dieffenbach said. "There will be no de-commitment from me."
Dieffenbach was recruited to play offensive guard or center. "They told me that I shouldn't expect to redshirt," Dieffenbach said. "They told me to expect for the most. Expect to play as a freshman."
Dieffenbach is 6 feet 5, 285 pounds. He runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds. He played offensive tackle as a junior and center as a sophomore. He will play guard as a senior. "Pitt was definitely my leader," Dieffenbach said. "I called every single one of the coaches who offered me so far. It was very close between Pitt and Penn State."