Saturday, February 6, 2010

Schneider chooses Pitt

After spending four seasons with one of the most successful high school football programs in the area, Avon Lake senior Dan Schneider officially signed his National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Pittsburgh this fall.

"Pitt has a good blend of academics and football," said Schneider, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end. "It was a mix of everything that allowed me to make my decision."

During the past three seasons, the Shoremen finished a combined 27-8 with three Southwestern Conference championships and three playoff berths. In 2009, Avon Lake lost three of its first four games, finished 8-4 and lost to Toledo St. Francis DeSales in the second round of the playoffs.

Playing on both sides of the line of scrimmage, Schneider was voted the Lorain County Defensive Lineman of the Year and made the A.P. First Team All-Ohio as a tight end.

"Winning the SWC that many times and getting to run out on the field with my friends was the best part," he said.

Signing Day may have been on Wednesday, but Schneider made his decision in the summertime, weeks before the season started. His top three schools were narrowed down to Pitt, Florida State and West Virginia.

"My recruiting experience was crazy and tiring at times," he said. "I didn’t exactly plan on deciding that early, but I wanted to give myself enough time to make a sound decision."

Earning a 4.5 GPA at Avon Lake and scoring 30 on the ACT, Schneider is somewhat undecided when it comes to his academic future.

"I’m leaning toward (studying) something like business and maybe go to law school."

Schneider was the 17th recruit to sign from the Class of 2010 at Pitt and fourth from Ohio. has him ranked as the 23rd best tight end prospect in his class and the 40th best overall in the state.

He will most likely redshirt during his first season in Pittsburgh but could earn a spot on the roster with hard work and a good training camp.

One of the more significant aspects of his visit to Pittsburgh was a lunch meeting with senior tight end Nate Byham. Byham came into Pitt as one of the top tight end prospects in the country, was named to the All-Big East Team and was able to give valuable insight to life as a Panther.

"It was good to hear from a player," Schneider said. "Sometimes coaches say things that might not turn out being true, but players will always tell you how things really are."

The Panthers are coached by former NFL head coach Dave Wannstedt, who led the Chicago Bears for eights seasons and the Miami Dolphins for five.

Notable Pitt alumns include NFL Hall of Famers Mike Ditka, Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett as well as Larry Fitzgerald and Darrelle Revis in more recent years.

Wannstedt and the Panthers went 10-3 last season, coming within one game, a close loss to the University of Cincinnati in the Big East Championship, from reaching the Sugar Bowl.

Schneider is a solid run blocker, a gifted receiver and should find a good niche in Wannstedt’s pro-style offense.

Football, however, isn’t the only thing on his mind at this time.

"I’m looking forward to the same things any college kids looks forward to, like living away from home" Schneider said. "Playing football is a bonus for me. I am very fortunate."

Courtesy of Cory Schuett

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