Derrek Pitts’ mom praises James Franklin’s recruiting persistence

South Charleston four-star safety Derrek Pitts hugs his younger sister Rajah after committing to Penn State on Wednesday.

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When South Charleston prospect Derrek Pitts chose the Penn State hat Wednesday, sending the crammed barbecue restaurant into delirium, his mother realized she had guessed wrong.

“I really thought he was going to WVU. I really did,” said Dionne Pitts. “He loves West Virginia, loves the fans, and loves the people. But I think Penn State’s coaches did a little bit more. They solidified their want for him.”

The four-star safety had long been a priority for West Virginia coaches, but the Nittany Lions staff connected with him in a way no other schools did.

“My family was the main attention at Penn State,” he said. “They were coming at my mom and coming at my sister more than they were coming at me. My whole family felt as one at Penn State.”

“My family was the main attention at Penn State. They were coming at my mom and coming at my sister more than they were coming at me. My whole family felt as one at Penn State.” — South Charleston’s Derrek Pitts

Pitts suggested Penn State even made an impression on his father, whom the player said remains incarcerated in Pennsylvania.

At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Pitts is the nation’s 19th-rated safety in the 2017 class, according to Rivals.com. He had Florida, Tennessee and Maryland among his finalists. Within the 24-hour run-up to his commitment, offers from Alabama, Florida State, Texas and USC poured in.

A nonbinding verbal won’t stop the recruiting pitches.

“That’s just the beginning of what’s coming at me. It’s just the process,” he said. “But they’ve got to come at me with something crazy for me to come out of my commitment.”

As Pitts hugged relatives and posed for photos with high school teammates, his mom praised the conscientious involvement of Penn State’s coaches, all the way up to James Franklin.

“They came to see him all during the school year. They DM’d him on a regular basis and they DM’d me, checking on me, checking how I was doing,” she said.

“Coach Franklin was persistent. He was really involved. I can show you on phone how the head coach contacted me as much as any other coach. He contacted me at least three days a week.”

“Coach (James) Franklin was persistent. He was really involved. I can show you on phone how the head coach contacted me as much as any other coach. He contacted me at least three days a week.” — Mother of recruit Derrek Pitts

Saying the family “didn’t hear from WVU as much,” Dionne Pitts still joined her son at the ceremony expecting him to choose the Mountaineers. But the player had turned quiet in recent days, sharing his preference only with his father.

“I’m Mama. I’m not manager. I’m not fan. I’m Mama, so I had to do what made him comfortable,” she said. “I want him to be happy wherever he goes. At Penn State, they just made us feel like we were part of them.”

After Pitts donned the Nittany Lions cap, a smiling woman shouted rom the back of the restaurant: “I love WVU but I’m still going to come watch you play at Penn State!” Pitts responded by telling the crowd he’d try to find everyone tickets.

Outside the restaurant, some West Virginia fans tweeted congratulations to Pitts. Others groused over the state’s top prospect getting away, a startling trend this year with only one of the top six seniors committed to WVU.

“I had to do what’s best for me and my family,” Pitts said. “If some people can’t understand that, then they just don’t want the best for me.”





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