Pitt needed offensive tackles in the class of 2012, and on Friday night the Panthers added a second one when Adam Pankey announced that he had made his college decision.
"I'm a Pitt man now," Pankey said after the final game of his high school career at Hamilton (Oh.).
Pankey narrowed his list of scholarship offers to Pitt, West Virginia, Illinois, and North Carolina State, but he took a trio of visits to Pitt in the last four months that solidified his decision. First was an unofficial visit over the summer; then he attended the Panthers' game against Utah; and he completed the trilogy last weekend with an official visit.
"After I visited, I was locked on Pittsburgh," he said. "Every time I visited somewhere else, I was comparing it to Pittsburgh. When I did that on visits to other schools, I knew that's where I wanted to go.
"When I visited for the game, I really liked the atmosphere and I was feeling like Pittsburgh was probably going to be the place for me. Then I took a third trip down there to solidify that my feeling was still there for it."
Pankey was joined on the official visit by his mother, and she shared his feelings for Pitt.
"I was talking to my mom on the way home and I was listing the pros and cons. She liked all the coaches because she finally got a chance to meet them and she thought it was a great fit for me, too."
A big part of Pankey's official visit was spending time with current Pitt players. He was hosted by redshirt junior center Ryan Turnley and met most of the team's offensive linemen.
"There's just a whole family feeling there; it was a great fit and I had a great bond with all the guys," Pankey said. "You could see it between the players and coaches, too; they have a really good bond. There's a family thing there."
With his decision made following the official visit, Pankey called the Pitt coaches earlier this week.
"I told them on Tuesday. I called them and let them know but I wanted to keep it under wraps until tonight. They were excited. I talked to the whole offensive staff, and they were telling me how excited they were. They were handing the phone back and forth, so I got to talk to everybody."
After this season Pitt will lose Jordan Gibbs, Lucas Nix, and Greg Gaskins, leaving the Panthers with just a handful of offensive tackles with starting experience. That doesn't mean Pankey expects any guarantees of playing time, but he does think he'll get a chance to compete.
"That was another thing I liked about them: the coaches were telling me how they're not going to be real deep at tackle, so there is definitely an opportunity if I come in and work my tail off. I'm going to push those guys out there.
"There's an opportunity for me to come in and make a big impact."
On Friday night, Pankey and his Hamilton teammates beat rival Fairfield 25-6 in the season finale. For Pankey and the rest of the seniors, the game marked the end of a long journey.
"It was our last game. I've played with all of these guys since I was in first grade and it was a big moment for all of us. It was great playing with my team one last time.
Pankey, 6'5" 320, is the 19th recruit overall and the third offensive lineman to commit to Pitt in the class of 2012. Pitt's other line commits are Fox Chapel tackle Adam Bisnowaty and Cincinnati (Oh.) St. Xavier offensive lineman Brandyn Cook.